Tuesdays with Tony
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.
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.
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.
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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