Maintaining Your Horse Trailer

Learn to perform regular maintenance on your horse trailer to help keep you and your horse safe on the road.
Always check your trailer for any potential safety hazards before hauling horses. | iStock

Purchasing a horse trailer is an investment, so it’s important to keep up with necessary maintenance on your trailer to be sure it’s safe for your horses.

Service Your Horse Trailer Annually

“We advise you to have your trailer serviced annually by a reputable service center,” says Leah Stites of the Lakota of Ohio Trailers, in South Solon, Ohio. “This can be done by a trailer dealer or an RV dealer if you have living quarters in your trailer. They will have a check list that they go over to ensure that your trailer is safe on the road and is not experiencing any issues.” Most service centers will check the trailer’s roof seal, service the breaks and bearings, and inspect the frame, she adds.

Winterizing Your Horse Trailer

For those in colder climates, especially with trailers that are stored outside in inclement weather for several months, winterization is an important part of keeping your horse trailer in good condition. Winterizing your trailer is mainly important for those with living quarters.

For trailers with living quarters, winterizing your trailer can help prevent broken pipes and faucets which can be costly to repair or cause water damage, says Stites. “I always recommend taking your trailer to a service center to have it winterized if you are not familiar with the process. They can walk you through how to do it yourself if you would like to do so in the future. It is not a difficult process, but it is important that it is done correctly.”

Horse Trailer Flooring, Mat, and Exterior Cleaning

How often you need to care for your horse trailer’s flooring and mats can vary widely depending on how often the trailer is used. Clean out the manure and urine relatively quickly after hauling horses so it doesn’t cause the floor to deteriorate.

“I recommend that you pull (out) your mats and wash out the trailer at least once a year,” Stires says. “If you are using the trailer more than once a month, then every 2-3 months is recommended.” Use bedding on the trailer floor to soak up urine, she adds. “The urine is what gets under the mats and can cause erosion issues with the structure of the trailer. Keeping that from sitting on the floor for long periods of time is the goal. There is no such thing as washing it out too much.”

How you should clean the exterior of your trailer largely depends on its construction.

“Some trailers have polished aluminum which can smudge,” says Stites. You can use aluminum polish and buffers to brighten your trailer. “You can also take your trailer to a truck and trailer wash, and they can wash it for you,” she says. “You will want to make sure you check with them to see what products they use as some products can damage the aluminum or paint. Calling the manufacturer of your specific trailer can help you find which products are okay depending on the materials they use.”

Steel-framed trailers are usually coated in a protective layer, so check your trailer frequently for spots where the layer has deteriorated, and rust can form. “This is more likely to happen in 20-year-old (or older) trailers but can happen to newer ones as well,” says Stites. “If you think you see rust or have a concern about your frame, make sure you bring it to the attention of your service center during your annual inspection.”

Horse Trailer Tires

Check your tires consistently for wear. There are many brands available, and tire ratings vary widely. The ratings will determine how quickly tires wear or need to be replaced. You can also tell when your trailer tired need to be replaced by checking for uneven wear, bulges in the tires, or cracks from dry rot, especially if the trailer is not used regularly.

“Discussing your trailers tires with your service center is your best option,” says Stites. “Checking your tire wear and condition should be included in their inspection. They will also advise you what PSI (pounds per square inch) is best to keep your trailer tires at.”

It’s also important to keep a spare tire, the necessary equipment needed to change it, and even a small, portable air compressor handy anytime you haul.

Pre-Hauling Horse Trailer Checklist

A quick look over your trailer before hitting the road can save you some timely and costly problems. Stites recommends checking these parts of your trailer before each trip:

  • The spare tire.
  • PSI on all tires.
  • Propane bottles and batteries in living quarters (if applicable).
  • Steps and ramps to be sure they are secure.
  • All lights.
  • Chains and breakaway system (all trailers are required to have this).
  • Hitch pin.

“Do your annual service, complete your walk around check list before each haul, wash out your trailer when needed, and find a service center that you feel comfortable with discussing any problems or concerns,” Stites adds. Following these steps will help ensure you and your horses are safe on the road.






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