If you haul your horses regularly, eventually you're likely to experience some sort of a breakdown on the road. Knowing how to handle a breakdown and preventing them in the first place can be vital to your horses' health. An informal survey showed that in some states roughly 40% of veterinary visits were due to trailer accidents resulting in some sort of injury to the horse. Here are some tips for managing a breakdown, as well as information on how you can prevent problems with your rig on the road.
What to Do Immediately Following a Breakdown
If you experience a breakdown, such as a tire blowout or an engine problem, put on your emergency flashers on immediately. Slow down gently, and try to pull off the highway, always on the right side.
You want to find the biggest, safest area possible to park your rig. Don't park on a slant, as this can cause injury to your horses in the trailer or even cause the trailer to tip.
If you can't get off the highway completely, make yourself visible to other motorists at night or in stormy conditions. Set up a row of flares or reflector triangles some distance from the back of your trailer to give motorists time and space to move over to the left of you. Place a couple of flares or reflectors in front of your rig as well.
Take care for passing traffic as you illuminate your area. Do not unload any horses, as it is too dangerous. Call your roadside assistance program or repair company for anything you can't handle yourself.
Why a Truck Repair Roadside Assistance Program Is Important
It's a good idea to have an emergency truck/trailer roadside assistance program or have a relationship with a truck repair company that you can call 24/7, 365 days a year in an emergency. When engaging such a service, think about the following:
- Can they deal with the size of your rig?
- Do they do on-site repairs, or do you always need to be towed?
- If you need to be towed, can your horses remain in the trailer?
- Do they handle running out of fuel and accidental lockouts?
- Will they change tires? Are there restrictions on the type of tires they'll work on?
- What is the geographic range they cover? Will they go off-road?
- Can they help with emergency needs for your horses, e.g., veterinary care and out-of-town stabling?
How to Prevent Horse Trailer Breakdowns
The best way to deal with a trailer breakdown, ideally, is not to have one in the first place. Before every road trip, go through a safety checklist for your rig. If you're not sure what to check or how to do it, many 4H clubs now offer trailer safety workshops.
Check your tires to make sure the treads are good and the pressure is sufficient. Make sure you have at least two spares with you in the rig.
Check your coupling/hookup if towing. Make sure your brakes work and your lights and signals are functioning properly.
Don't forget that your horses are part of the safety check too. Train your horses to become routine about trailering, so they don't cause any accidents due to panic behavior. Ensure they are adequately padded with leg wraps and poll protectors, as well as barriers in the trailer. Separate horses that don't get along with each other, to further reduce avoidable accidents.
Taking your horses out on the road should be fun and stress-free. The more prepared you are for an emergency, the calmer you'll be, which your horses will notice. Follow the tips above and hopefully, you'll avoid breakdowns or accidents altogether. If you have a plan for roadside assistance in place, you'll breathe easier knowing you can count on them if the unexpected does happen. If you do find yourself needing assistance to get back on the road, contact a company like Thomas Mechanic Services Inc.