You’re carrying precious cargo, so it pays to make sure that you’re completely prepared when it comes to towing your trailer. Here are our Top 15 Tips in association with Equitrek South East to guide you through all aspects of towing:
1)The Legal Stuff. If you passed your driving test after 1997 you need to take the additional B+E test in order to be able to legally tow a two horse trailer. Even if you took your test before ’97, it’s worth considering some towing lessons before you take to the road. You also need to make sure your car has the capacity to pull your trailer – you’ll find towing weights in your car’s manual.
2)Safety First. Before setting off, check the tyre pressures on your vehicle and trailer – incorrect tyre pressure is a common reason for trailer sway. Ensure your hitch, couple, breakaway brake battery and safety chains are in order and that all your lights and brakes are working before you load your horses.
3)Keep the Balance. If your horse is travelling along in a two-horse trailer, put them on the same side as the driver. If you’re towing two horses, put the heavier horse on the driver side. The centre of a road is usually higher than elsewhere and by weighting the box correctly, it should balance better.
4)Brake Carefully.Always keep plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front (at least double the braking distance for a car) as you will need to brake slower and take longer to stop due to the weight of the trailer and to give your horses the smoothest ride possible.
5)Keep it Smooth. Brake early into turns and drive through them smoothly, and make sure your trailer has cleared a turn and straightened out before you return to normal speed to ensure your horses have regained their balance. Change lanes gradually, and use a lower gear when travelling up or down steep hills.
6)Secure your Passengers. When tying your horses up in the trailer, give them enough rope to shift their weight and reach their haynet, but not enough for them to turn their head around or get their head behind the partition. You don’t want your horses to fight during their trip or get stuck with their head in the wrong place!
7)Roundabouts. Horses have problems coping with the directional changes involved, so take roundabouts very steadily. Position yourself sensibly, taking the correct lane for the direction you wish to travel and indicating clearly. Where possible, follow your line around the roundabout and never cut across other lanes.
8)Junctions. Approach junctions at a speed that will enable you to turn safely and stop if necessary. Keep in mind the length and width of your vehicle and trailer to allow sufficient time in the flow of traffic before making the manoeuvre.
9)Motorways & Dual Carriageways. Be extra-vigilant in your use of mirrors, and be aware that as lorries pass, their wind-stream may ‘tug’ your trailer – be careful not to over-correct but simply hold it steady. If you need to change lanes or overtake, signal in plenty of time and double check your blind spot, accounting for the extra length of your trailer and the relevant speed of other vehicles.
10)Signal. Always signal well in advance to give other road users due warning of your intention to turn.
11)Side-winds. Trailers can be affected by side-winds, so be extra careful when emerging from or crossing bridges or cuttings. Keep an eye out for signs of high wind such as moving trees or blowing debris.
12)Know your Width. A lot of trailer towers tend to drive wide, leaving more space than necessary between the kerb and trailer. Check your road positioning while going along by glancing in the wing mirror and see where the trailer is, then look ahead and adjust the vehicle position to suit. Take the trailer’s width into account when turning corners and negotiating roundabouts, and when you’re pulling into a petrol station – remember you can’t park as close to the fuel pump as normal.
13)Plan Ahead. If you see a car far ahead braking, start to slow down – don’t wait for the car directly in front to brake. Anticipate traffic lights – if they’ve been green for a long time expect them to turn red.
14)Keep it Steady. It can be very frightening when a trailer starts to snake, moving from side to side. This can be caused by sudden braking or the wheels getting caught in grooves on the road. Don’t try to steer or accelerate out of it, instead, hold the steering wheel straight ahead and brake gently until the trailer comes back under your control.
15) Extra Time. Plan your route and allow plenty of time so that you do not feel rushed or the need to hurry. Towing a trailer takes longer than normal travel time.
It’s far better to arrive early and safe with a relaxed horse and rider!