Hauling Horses, Part 2
- October 30, 2014
- Jenn Zeller
I’m back with more safety tips for the road! We will just continue down the list we started previously.
6. Keep a good, working, heavy duty jack in your pickup or trailer (where it is accessible even if your horses are in the trailer). I have a big, heavy, timber that is made so that I can drive up onto it, and that allows me to go without a jack, and still get a tire changed. They actually make some that you can buy. Whatever you choose is fine, so long as you have one with you that can get the job done. You’re probably wondering why I think you should be able to get to your jack with the horses in the trailer aren’t you? And if you’re not, then you haven’t been where I’ve been- someplace where you can’t unload them, or you’ve got horses that you don’t unload because they’re not halter-broke (yes, people haul un-halter broke horses across the country), or many other reasons. I’ve had countless blow-outs where I was unable to get the horses out of the trailer to jack it up- yet another reason to have a heavy enough jack with you to get the job done with the added weight of the horses in the trailer.
7. Keep a cross-bar tire iron with you. If you’re a woman, and you’ve ever had the luxury of changing a tire on your own, this comes in very handy. It’s called leverage. And you need it, especially if you’re 5ft nothing like me. I have actually stood on a tire iron before, to help loosen the lug nuts. Which, brings me to my next two points. As an aside, DeWalt makes a portable, battery powered, Impact Driver that you can keep charged and with you when you haul. I don’t have one, but I probably should, as much as I’m on the road.
8. WD40 is your friend. Carry and keep it with you in your pickup or trailer. It comes in handy for helping to loosen a rusty lug nut or in our case, one that’s seized onto the rim with say, South Dakota Gumbo. Gumbo is almost better than glue. Almost.
9. Do not, for the love of all things grand and holy, let the boys at the tire shop, put new trailer tires on your trailer, and use the impact wrench to tighten them. If you’re a woman and you’re not carrying a portable impact driver with you, chances are you stand a snowball’s chance in hell at getting your lugs off the rim. Ask them to please tighten them by hand, so that you have a fighting chance. Currently, the men reading this are doing a Tim-The-Tool-Man-Taylor grunt right now. Admit it boys! Furthermore, you’re probably thinking to yourself, right about now, why don’t you just call roadside assistance? Well, I will tell you. Most of the time, when I’ve had tire trouble I’ve been in the middle of nowhere, because Murphy has a Law, or something, and there’s no cell service, or roadside assistance is 3 hours out. I’ve got places to go and horses to take care of and waiting for roadside assistance isn’t much of an option for me.
10. Always do an inspection of your rig when you stop to fuel up. I typically check the horses to make sure my floor hasn’t sprung a hole, the doors to make sure they’re all latched, and my hitch to make sure it’s still latched. Putting your hand to your tires is a good thing to do too- it lets you know if they’re getting hot, which they will do if there’s not enough air in them. If they’re warm to the touch, and you just got off the interstate going 70mph, you’re good to go. But if they hurt your hand or are hot to the touch, then you need to do further inspection to figure out what’s going on. Trust me, you don’t want to ignore this. I also check my pickup tires to make sure they’re happy and filled with air like they should be.
11. I drive a dually pickup, and while checking the inside duals, and getting air into them isn’t the easiest thing you’ll ever do, a dually is much safer to pull with, than a single wheel pickup. It doesn’t probably get as good a mileage, but your horses can fuss and move around without taking your rig with them. Bonus, you can have a flat on the inside dual, and still make it to the tire shop to get your tire fixed. Been there; done that. Though, if you’ve got a loaded trailer, which I had, it can get complicated to find a place to unload your horses and unhook. Some tire shops are willing and able to work on your pickup and trailer outside the bay- others not so much.
12. Keep your trailer axles in good working condition. I get the bearings packed every 12-18 months and make sure my jack and hitch are greased, along with the doors.
13. Some miscellaneous items I like to keep with me are, fuel additive, electric tape, jumper cables, and a water hose. You never know when those things will come in handy. I also keep pliers (regular and needle-nose) a set of wrenches, bungee cords, as well as a tiny screw driver- which is exceptionally handy to have if you have to rewire your trailer mid-trip. Been there; done that.
We can’t avoid the things that will go wrong when we’re hauling horses. And things will go wrong. The longer/more you haul, the greater you increase your chances of having one of the above things happen. If you have a blowout, you will almost always know it- it makes a loud sound, and tire shrapnel goes everywhere- it’s hard to miss out of your rear-view or side mirrors. Just slow down, take a deep breath and pull over as calmly, quickly and safely as you can to assess the situation. And if ever something does go wrong, you’ll be surprised, depending on where you are, who may stop to help you. It might even be me!
About Jenn Zeller
Jenn Zeller is the creative mind and boss lady behind The South Dakota Cowgirl. She is an aspiring horsewoman, photographer, brilliant social media strategist and lover of all things western. After a brief career in the investment world to support her horse habit (and satisfy her...