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by Heather Warburton


1. Is the safety cable connected to a secure point not around the tow ball ?
2. Are all the the tyres at the right pressure and with sufficient tread ?
3. Are the lights, indicators etc. all working ?
4. Is the jockey wheel securely fixed and in working order ?
5. Are your tow ball and coupler greased ?
6. Carry spanners and ramp for changing a wheel.
7. Make sure the car has sufficient fuel.
8. After recent articles about horses panicking on motorways in traffic jams, consider carrying a sedative in case of emergency.
9. Carry a first aid kit. If you have it, hopefully you won't need it!
10. Learn how to pump up your tyres, the pressures and how to use a air pump.

Other things to consider

Are you towing within your car's limits ?
The average trailer weighs about 780kg and the average 15hh horse about 500kg, so this gives a total of 1280kg - therefore your car needs to weigh at least 1505kg. You can check this in your car manual. (An Ivor Williams 510 or Equetrec could weigh more.)
Keep your trailer clean.
Manure and urine have a corrosive effect on metal and wood work so make sure there is none lurking between the matting and the floor. Check the floor is in good condition.
Check your brakes are adjusted and hitch drawbar lubricated. There are grease nipples located on the top of the drawbar - refer to your manual or contact the makers. I didn't realise my brakes weren't working until they were checked, now my trailer pulls me up instead of pushing the car forward !
They should have at least 1.6mm of tread. Deep cuts, bulges or perishing are dangerous and illegal.
Ask someone to help you check that your lights are all working.
If you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997, you can tow a vehicle and trailer combination of up to 8.25 tonnes Max Gross Weight. If you passed you test after this date it's more complicated - you need category E as well as the ordinary licence category B. See the DVLA website.
Towing Courses are available. Contact :-
Caravan Club 01342 336808
Camping & Caravan Club 020 7699 4995
Drivecraft 01327 703612
If you are not practical go to your dealer and have your trailer serviced while it is not in full use. It is too late when you are late for an event and things are starting to go wrong !
The breakaway cable should be clipped onto the special rings some towbars have or loop it around the bar, making sure it cannot foul the coupling head. Do not loop it round the towball neck unless you can find no alternative. If you are pulled up with this wrongly connected, you could incur 3 points on your license and a fine.
Always put the heaviest horse on the right hand side of the trailer i.e. furthest away from the curb. This reduces the risk of the trailer turning over as most roads camber towards the curb. If carrying only one horse always put it furthest away from the curb side.
Make sure the breast bar and back bar are in the correct position. The position of the bar determines the position of the horse inside. This is important because if the horse is standing a long way back then the weight bias will be to the back, upsetting the handling.
If you are the rare victim of a snake (weaving when the trailer takes command over the car) you'll have a far greater chance of controlling it if you are keeping to the speed limit , don't brake too sharply, decelerate gradually, keeping your hands loose on the steering wheel, until the unit is tracking straight again.
It has been reported in farming magazines of insurance becoming invalid for both the car and trailer because of un-notified alteration to vehicles notably adding a bull bar to the car (this can invalidate any insurance claims with some insurance companies.)
Trailer Makers to visit or Richardson/Rice
More advice can be found at the site of The National Trailer & Towing Association.

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