Save the Horse!
While Denver's image as a sleepy cow town at the foot of the Rockies is long gone, the traditions of Old West are still very much alive. After all, this year's stock show saw record attendance
, and you can crack a cold one at a rodeo
or charreda just about any weekend this summer. And that means a lot of animals are on the move, both on the ranch and the road. So if you're a rider looking to bring an animal to show, or you just want to trot around some of the country's most breathtaking national forests, heed these simple tips to keep you and your horse safe on the road!
First and foremost, make sure all of your equipment is properly matched and in good shape. That means ensuring you don't have a low-rated hitch with a trailer that requires a heavier duty hitch.
Next, ensure your trailer sits as level as possible. Depending on the ride height of your tow vehicle, you may need to invest in a drop hitch -- many companies offer adjustable hitches so you can get it just right! This will help your trailer's suspension do its job and handle properly.
Then, check your trailer for its functionality. Ensure that all lights work, the emergency brake engages, and that your safety chains are in good shape. Also, inspect your trailer for rusted out floor panels, door latches, or anything else that may lead to a bad day.
After that, load your trailer using smart loading practices. Each trailer is different, but be sure to load the horses in their proper orientation and with the heaviest animal up front. This is where most trailers are the strongest, and the last thing you want is a rear-end heavy trailer. Should you be unsure, consult an experienced equine enthusiast or contact your local Transwest.
Last but not least, learn how to drive your rig. Let's say you've just picked up a brand new Sierra 2500 with a Duramax -- it may have features previously unavailable to you in your old tow vehicle. Diesel-exhaust-fluid-induced engine braking can really save your brakes and trailer brake controls may be in a different location.
And if you're really new, practice driving and backing with a trailer in an open area where you'll have room to get comfortable with the dynamics. Then, speak with an experienced hauler about helping control your load -- they'll most likely tell you how much extra room you'll need to stop, emphasize smoothness on the throttle and during maneuvers, gear-down before going uphill/downhill, and what your trailer's tire speed limit is (often times no more than 65 mpg).
Once all of this is considered, you're good to hit the highway! What are your thoughts? Do you have any extra tips to help keep your horse safe on the road? Let us know in the comments below!