Trailer Prep Tips

Before the start of the summer travel season, it is critically important for?horse owners to perform basic yet essential maintenance on their trailers. USRider, the national provider of roadside emergency assistance for horse owners, reminds equestrians to invest time doing routine preventive trailer maintenance. This will be time well spent because it will ensure that trailers will be in optimal shape to provide safe passage for precious cargo during the upcoming season.

?A good roadside assistance program is something all horse owners should have but hope they will never have to use,? says Bill Riss, general manager for USRider. ?To that end, our mission is to continually educate horse owners about trailering safety.?

To provide a reliable and accessible source of information about trailering safety USRider maintains an Equine Trailer Safety Area on its website, The safety information is developed with input from equine travel expert Neva Kittrell Scheve.

?We have carefully developed this area to be a resource with helpful and practical topics ? all free and available to members and non-members alike,? Bill says. ?Our website is designed so visitors can print out information as a handy reference. We also post safety bulletins as new information is developed.?

Examples of the information available at the USRider site include a list of items every horse trailer should have on board, short trip and long trip precautions, and trailer inspection procedures.

?Horse owners can put these tips to work and greatly reduce the chances that they will be stranded on the side of the highway,? Bill says.

Some of the tips include:

  1. Remove and inspect all wheels and hubs or brake drums.
  2. Inspect suspension for wear.
  3. Check tightness of hanger bolt, shackle bolt and U-bolt nuts per recommended torque values.
  4. Check brake linings, brake drums and armature faces for excessive wear or scoring.
  5. Check brake magnetic coil with an ohmmeter. The magnetic coil should check 3.2 ohms (+/- 0.3ohms). If shorted or out of tolerance, replace.
  6. Lubricate all brake moving parts, using a high-temperature brake lubricant.
  7. Remove any rust from braking surface and armature surface of drums.
  8. Inspect oil or grease seals for wear or nicks. Replace if necessary.
  9. Inspect and grease wheel bearings.

In addition to these recommendations, USRider advises horse owners to check all trailer tires, (including spares) for signs of dry rot, correct air pressure, faulty air valves, uneven tire wear, overall tire wear and damage. USRider recommends investing in a high-quality air pressure gauge ? learn how to use it ? and inspect tire pressure before each trip. Always replace tires if worn or damaged. In addition, tires should be replaced every three to five years regardless of mileage. When replacing tires, always replace the valve stems. USRider recommends that only high-quality tires specifically designed and rated for trailers be used ? never use retread or automobile tires on a horse trailer. Bill says, ?Quality tires are like fine leather shoes, they only hurt once ? when you pay for them.?

It is also important to service the wheel bearings annually, or every 12,000 miles, due to moisture buildup. Keep a spare set of wheel bearings in your trailer in case of premature failure. Be sure to inspect trailer wiring and lighting; inspect door latches and grease the doors; inspect the floor (be sure to remove any rubber mats so the entire floor can be examined); and inspect and lubricate mechanical moving parts, such as the hitch and suspension parts. If the trailer has been sitting for a while, check for wasp nests, spider webs and any other creatures.

Bill also reminds equestrians to check the contents of their equineand human first-aid kits.

?Any depleted and out-of-date items should be replaced,? he says. A list of recommended items for first aid kits is posted on the USRider website.

USRider advises horse owners to use ICE ? In Case of Emergency. This important initiative was designed to aid emergency responders in identifying victims and determining who needs to be notified. Implementing ICE is easy. Program your emergency contact information into your cellular phone and designate it with the acronym ICE.

Horse owners should also ensure that their emergency contact information is stored in their tow vehicle. USRider has developed an In Case of Emergency form and posted it online for horse owners to print out. Simply fill in the blanks and store the paper in the tow vehicle, as well as in the trailer. Additional recommendations, as well as a Power of Attorney form, are posted on the USRider website.

For additional safety tips, visit the Equine Travel Safety Area on the USRider website at

USRider provides roadside assistance and towing services along with other travel-related benefits to its members through the Equestrian Motor Plan. It includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lock-out services, plus towing up to 100 miles and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary referrals and more. For more information about the USRider Equestrian Motor Plan, visit or call (800) 844-1409.

From America’s Horse Daily.

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