In the down time of winter, take time to safety-check your horse trailer so you’ll be ready to go when the good weather arrives. Here’s a checklist.
Floor, undercarriage. Examine your trailer’s floor for cracked metal or rotted wood. Your floor mats should be stored upright, but if they’re down, lift them up to reveal the actual floor. Check underneath the trailer’s carriage for damaged frame parts, excessive rusting, or faded welds. (Arrange for a professional inspection of the axle, suspension, and other key parts of your trailer once a year; see box below.)
Braking system. Hitch the trailer to your hauling vehicle and check that the trailer’s braking system works as it should. Also check the battery and attachment cords for the emergency breakaway system.
Lights. Enlist a friend to check that all lights are functioning properly as you operate them: brake lights, turn signals, parking lights, emergency flashers, running lights.
Wheels, tires. Make sure all wheels’ lug nuts are snug. Inspect tires for excess wear and damage, looking especially for cuts, embedded nails, broken valve stems, and dented rims. Tires should have at least ¼ inch of tread. For maximum safety, replace any tires older than 5 years. (Check tire pressure against manufacturer’s recommendations immediately before using the trailer.)
Hitch mechanism. Look for loose bolts, hairline cracks, other signs of wear. Make sure the coupler and locking mechanism function properly. (Also check that the ball on your towing vehicle is tight and not damaged or overly rusted.)
Interior. Inspect inside your trailer for any damage that creates a sharp edge, or for protruding nuts or bolts that could injure you or your horse. Check that floor mats are in good repair, that stall partitions work properly, and that no insects or rodents have set up housekeeping.
Trailer jack, wheel chocks. Make sure these essential items are properly stowed in the trailer and in good repair.