There’s quite a difference between driving your car and having the added responsibility of towing a trailer with your horse inside.
If you’re new to towing, ask someone who has experience to go out with you. Practise towing the trailer on its own first, without your horse on board.
This will help you become familiar with the feel of towing a how your vehicle and trailer react when you brake and turn.
Your horse will be much happier if you drive in a way that allows him to maintain his balance while on the move. To make your towing technique smoother, follow these tips:
Adjust your mirrors so you can see the back end of your trailer and check your mirrors regularly as you’re driving.
Allow extra stopping distance – with the additional weight of a horse, it will take more time to slow down.
The extra weight means acceleration will be slower too, so give yourself extra time to reach full speed when pulling out onto roads.
Slow down for bends in the road and take them a little wider than in a car to help your horse keep his balance.
Give your horse time to prepare for stops by taking your foot of the accelerator and allowing the car’s engine to slow you down before applying the brakes.
Never accelerate quickly and make sure that your trailer has cleared a turn and straightened out before you return to normal speed to ensure that your horse doesn’t lose his balance.
On bumpy roads, drive carefully for both you and your horse’s comfort.
Keep a good distance from any vehicle you are following in case the traffic in front suddenly stops.
Use a lower gear while travelling up or down hills and don’t change lanes suddenly when driving on a motorway.
Be alert for odd shakes or sounds coming from your trailer – this may be an indication that your horse isn’t happy or there’s an issue with the trailer.
Dealing with trailer sway
Trailer sway, or fishtailing, is when a trailer begins to move from side to side on its own. Trailer sway is usually set off by a strong gust of wind – either from a side wind in exposed areas or from a lorry overtaking – or by quick changes of direction, such as on winding country roads. It can also be made worse by incorrect air pressure in the trailer’s tyres, or overloading the trailer.
If you feel your trailer starting to sway, it’s important to stay calm but take immediate action. Take your foot off the accelerator – this is usually all that’s needed to stop the sway.
Don’t apply the brakes unless it’s an emergency. This could increase the sway and cause you to lose control.
For more information about safe towing, read the full article in issue 456.
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