Before You Head Out....
Here is a list of what you can do to prepare yourself, your vehicle, and your trailer before a trip. In all cases develop a set of Plan Bs for any potential emergency.
1. Practice hauling your trailer both empty and loaded prior to any long-distance, high-speed trip: Hitch and unhitch, accelerate, brake, turn, stop (normal and emergency), and back. “My most frequent bad trailer accidents have involved inexperienced trailer drivers,” says Chris Newton, DVM, a practitioner with Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, in Lexington, Kentucky, who has seen his fair share of horse trailer accidents during his 15 years at the clinic. “If someone runs a stop sign in front of you, a fast stop will roll you over. With that amount of weight behind the truck, you don’t want to swerve. You’re always better off hitting something straight on. You need to feel confident you can handle a situation that will require subconscious thought and gut reaction.”
2. Write down your itinerary. Take a copy with you and leave one with someone at home, and let that someone know if your plans change.
3. Compile a list of potential layover sites in case of bad weather or accident.
4. Be sure your vehicle’s towing capacity is appropriate for the load you’re pulling (remember to include the weight of the trailer and everything inside, from horses to gear).
5. Inspect your truck and trailer regularly. Check all tires and wheels for wear, condition, and air pressure, and to be sure lug nuts are securely tightened. Also, be sure to check your spare tires (you should have at least one for your vehicle and two for your trailer; frequently both tires on one side of the trailer are damaged).
6. Test your jack (and make sure it’s rated for your trailer while loaded).
7. Be sure your trailer hitch and ball are secure and safety chains are connected.
8. Check your trailer brakes and lights to be sure they’re working properly, and use sufficient reflective devices or tape on the sides and back of your trailer to promote visibility.
9. Check your trailer’s floor for weak spots that could possibly give way under your horse’s weight.
10. Replace your truck’s wiper blades when worn so your field of vision is always unimpeded.
11. Grease your trailer’s wheel bearings annually. (Note: For a DIY tutorial on replacing bearings, races, and seals on a trailer hub, visit etrailer.com/faq-wheelbearingpack.aspx.)
12. Inspect the inside of your trailer for protrusions, insects, wasp nests, or any other potential safety hazards.
13. Wrap your horses’ legs prior to hauling so if there is a wreck, their limbs are protected from scrambling hooves and other potential sources of bumps/bruises/cuts.
14. Check the weather and travel conditions (in most states dial 511 for road conditions and closures, or refer to a handy traffic app such as Google maps), and pack any extra gear that you might need (tire chains, blankets, etc.)
15. In wet, snowy, or icy conditions, double up on your daily dose of caution. Remember that bridges and overpasses freeze first.
16. Beware of snow removal equipment. Give plows a wide berth: Stay at least 200 feet behind.
17. If you do start to slide in slick conditions, straighten the wheels to regain traction and control. Then, steer out of the skid.
18. Take corners and curves slowly enough that horses don’t become unbalanced and scramble, resulting in load shift and possible rollover.
19. Maintain a safe following distance between you and vehicles ahead. To avoid jackknifing or skidding, you’ll need a slow stop and plenty of space between vehicles. Keep in mind that many states’ laws include pulling over to let vehicles behind you pass, which will help promote safe following distances behind you and prevent impatient drivers’ reckless passing.
20. Be alert. Start well-rested, and take periodic breaks—both for you and your horses. And though it should go without saying, avoid alcohol and prescription medications that could diminish your response time.
21. Drive defensively. Understand that most drivers have no idea what’s involved in trailering horses.
22. Focus your attention on your load and surrounding vehicles, not on children, cell phones, or other distractions.
23. Store two ICE (in case of emergency) contacts in your cell phone—one for you and one for your horses—in the event you’re incapacitated and someone else must make decisions.
Tips courtesy of The Horse - Full Article Available at http://www.thehorse.com/articles/35171/are-you-crash-ready