Trailer Shopping

Trailer Shopping

Tuesdays with Tony

You may have noticed Dr. Vurgason and her horse Smokey galavanting around town in their new horse trailer. Now who do you think Dr. V asked for advice about which horse trailer to get? That’s right- the one and only Tony! After all, I spend most of my day every day watching various makes and models of horse trailer pull around this office building. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly! As a result, I consider myself quite the expert.

As a vet clinic cat, you shouldn’t be surprised that the first thing I’m going to tell you to consider in a horse trailer is safety. Now I’m all for buying a used trailer—that’s definitely how you’re going to find the best deal—however, you do need to make sure it’s safe. Look at and ask about the floors. Pull up any mats and check the condition of the boards or metal underneath. You also want to check out the tires and see if they are ready to be replaced. If your tire were to go flat during a haul, it could cause a serious accident. In addition, be sure to look and feel inside every square inch of that trailer for sharp things—because we all know how good horses are at seeking those out!

I would strongly recommend having a used trailer professionally inspected before purchase. Heck even if you’re not buying a new trailer it’s not a bad idea to get your Old Faithful checked out about once a year. After all, you’re going to be hauling a live animal in that thing, not just a sofa or something! The pros will make sure all your welds are strong, your hinges aren’t too rusty, and your floors are in good condition. One more word on safety, then I’ll get off my cat box: you should never have any loose items in the trailer when you are hauling a horse. So if you are planning on hauling anything in addition to your horse (hay bales, tack trunks, jump poles, barrels, buckets, etc.) consider a trailer with a separate tack room or floor-to-ceiling dividers between stalls.

The next most important thing for us Floridians to consider in a horse trailer is air flow. There are several different options horse trailer manufacturers use to achieve some air movement inside those hot metal boxes. These range from sliding windows, to open slats (especially in stock trailers), to drop-down windows. The air flow inside a trailer can be further supplemented by front or ceiling air vents, built-in fans, or even air conditioning! Now even the coolest, most open stock trailer is going to get pretty toasty if you pack enough horses in there. So, remember to consider your packing density and the climate when selecting a trailer.

Now as long as the trailer is safe and cool enough that your horse isn’t going to overheat, the rest just comes down to personal preference—of both you and your horse. I’ll tell you from my observations at the clinic, horses are a bit claustrophobic; they don’t like walking into small, narrow, dark spaces. So if you have a young horse or one who might not be the best at loading, you may want a trailer that opens completely in the back, and is very bright and inviting. There is much debate on whether horses prefer to load on a ramp or a step-up; my cat conclusion is that horses like what they are used to. With the right combination of patience, treats, and training, any horse will load on any trailer.

There are a couple more items to consider when selecting your dream trailer. Perhaps most importantly, how much can your vehicle tow? Remember that you need to add the weights of each horse plus the weight of the trailer, and that weight should be well below the maximum towing capacity for your vehicle. Almost all new trailers are aluminum, which is much lighter than the older models. However, some people report the aluminum trailers are less robust and less sturdy than their older counterparts.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

In general with horse trailers, the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is true. If one brand is less expensive than another, it is probably more cheaply made, and thus may not hold up as well or last as long as a more expensive trailer of a more reputable brand. Also keep in mind if you are ever planning on selling your trailer that the more expensive big-name brand trailers tend to hold their value better.

Hopefully I’ve given you some things to consider before your next major trailer purchase. Now all you need is another horse to haul in it, right?

Don’t forget to come out to my annual Piggy Ice Cream Social this Saturday from 10:00-noon. Whether you own a pet pig or not, believe me you don’t want to miss this entertaining event!

Until next week,

~Tony

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Trailer Safety – Help Your Horse Arrive Alive

Trailer Safety – Help Your Horse Arrive Alive

Tuesdays with Tony

Pumpkin Spice is back, therefore Fall is coming someday, right? I know, this is Florida. Fall will be here briefly in late October, and maybe some of November, with bits of the FaWinSpri season continuing through until March. FaWinSpri is a unique Florida season. It’s the time of year when it could be Fall, Winter, or Winter, Spring at any moment over a 24 hour period. Once April comes, you have to add in Summer since that can start happening too. Why my musings on seasons? Well, around September, horse people in Florida start their delusions of cooler weather is coming, I better start getting back in shape. This week we’re going to talk about something else that should be ready for cooler riding weather: the horse trailer.

 

The Horse Trailer Floor

 

Everyone knows the floor should be checked, but how many of you actually do it? Take out all the mats and do a thorough inspection. If you have a wood floor, lightly tap all over the floor with a hammer to be sure there are no hidden spots of rot. For aluminum floors, check very closely for pitting. Take this opportunity to wash the floor thoroughly and let it dry completely before replacing the mats. Want to really, really help your floor? Clean your trailer after every use. All that manure and urine produces compounds which do serious harm to any kind of trailer floor.

This horse went through the floor of a trailer. Yeah, it can really happen.

Surgery on Coby, the horse who fell through a trailer floor

 

The Tires

 

Check the condition and air pressure of your tires. A visual inspection to look for dry rot is great, but a knock with a crowbar will give you a better idea about your tire’s health. Also, splurge $1.99 for an air pressure gauge, and be sure you get one that goes all the way to 100 psi. Trailer tires often require higher pressure than regular car tires. Don’t forget to check both of your spare tires! Want to make those tires last longer? Park on a concrete pad and cover them so they stay out of the sun. While you’re checking air pressure and condition, check your lug nuts. Make sure they are all tight. 

Speaking of lug nuts, be prepared to undo them as well if you have a flat tire. Pro Tip: Look for a piece of pipe that will fit over your lug wrench, and keep it in the tack room. This will help you get extra leverage when you’re trying to loosen those pesky nuts, while sitting on the side of the road, while stressing about your horse, and the traffic is whizzing by you. Oh those ramp things: trailer aid tire ramps. Ahhmazing. Get one now. Here’s another Pro Tip: tires that explode on the highway are usually under-inflated. Tire pressure is important.

horse trailer safety

 

Lights, camera, action

 

This one is going to take two people. Check your lights. Make sure both turn signals, your 4-way flashers, and your brake lights work. You’ve put your most valuable possession (besides your cat) in the trailer, now make sure everyone can tell you’re stopping so you don’t get rear-ended. If your lights don’t work, get them fixed! Keep spare light bulbs with you at all times. This is the easiest fix in the world, and it’s far cheaper than a new horse and a new trailer. Asking those around to guess which way you’re going, or if you’re stopping, doesn’t work any better with a truck and trailer than it does in a crowded warm up arena.  

 

Hitches

 

Take the time to go over your hitch on your towing vehicle. If you have a gooseneck, get under the truck and do a visual inspection of the hitch. If you have a bumper pull, you get to do a visual inspection of the hitch, too. You also need to check the ball where it attaches to the hitch. The nut on the bottom can loosen over time. Give it a good check with a wrench to be sure it’s seated tightly.

 

Details, Details, Details

 

Keeping the little things taken care of on your trailer will prevent them from becoming big things. That door latch that’s not working quite right will become a liability when the door suddenly won’t close as you’re trying to pack up to head home at 9 pm. It’s also easy to let the little things pile up. Then you take the trailer in for repairs and get hit with a huge bill all at once. Doing repairs as needed will prevent that huge bill, especially leaks! Even if everything is great on your trailer, take it to a trusted repair shop every few years for a once-over. They can spot things you may not even realize were a problem!

Good riding weather will come. Get your trailer ready so you can take advantage of every precious moment it!

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Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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