November 14, 2008
Haul your horses safely by properly distributing your load and maintaining a reasonable speed.
Here are a few tips to help you make your next hauling adventure a safe one.
Distribution of Load
There are three aspects to proper loading:
- The trailer should sit as close to level as possible when loaded, to allow for even weight distribution to the axles. Use a drop hitch on bumper pull trailers or adjust the gooseneck coupler.
- Distribute the load to ensure proper tongue weight. Since most horses do not weigh the same, the heavier horse should be put in front so tongue weight would stay over 10 percent of total weight.
- Know the trailer’s capacity. Do not overload the trailer. A typical three-horse trailer will safely hold three large horses and a reasonable amount of tack.
Tongue weight is a determining factor in trailer handling. Too little tongue weight causes sway or hitch disengagement from the ball. Too much tongue weight may exceed guidelines set out by the manufacturer of the tow vehicle and cause steering or suspension problems. A general guideline is that for bumper pull trailers, tongue weights should be 10-15 percent of trailer weight. Tongue weights less than 10 percent of trailer weight can cause stability problems. For goosenecks, tongue weight should be approximately 25 percent of trailer weight.
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Speed and Driving
Use extreme caution when pulling your trailer. Do not exceed the posted speed limits on the roads you are traveling. Be aware that traveling at higher speeds or hauling heavier loads will increase your stopping distance.
The most common trailer repairs stem from people forgetting they are pulling a trailer. It is easy to damage a nose sheet or vehicle by turning too sharply. It is also easy to damage running boards and fenders if you forget how wide your trailer is. You should also be aware of your turning radius to avoid clipping objects or damaging fenders and tires while turning. Position mirrors so that you have good visibility of the area around and behind the trailer.
While you should always check your brakes for proper function before a trip, a good rule of thumb is to drive as if you do not have trailer brakes. For your animals’ safety, brake gradually and navigate turns as smoothly as possible.
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