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Horse Trailer Preparedness: A Guide to Essential Safety Gear

Last updated: December 28, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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Did you know that a fully loaded four-horse trailer can weigh over 10,000 pounds? This fact highlights the physical demands of transporting horses and also underscores the immense responsibility it entails. As a seasoned horse owner, I’ve hauled horses across various states, from yearling auctions to barrel races and hauling racehorses to tracks. Each journey has ingrained in me the critical importance of preparation.

Transporting horses, whether for sport, leisure, or relocation, requires more than just a love for them. It demands a comprehensive understanding of the necessary equipment and safety protocols. In this guide, I’ll share insights from my experience in horse care and transportation, aiming to equip you with essential knowledge for a smooth and safe journey.

Whether you’re a veteran in horse hauling or preparing for your first trip, this guide is crafted to provide practical advice and confidence for your travels. Remember, each journey with your horse is an opportunity to deepen your bond and understanding of your animals. Let’s ensure that every trip is as safe as it is rewarding.

Understanding the Essentials

Embarking on a journey with your horse is much more than a simple trip; it’s a venture that demands careful planning and attention to detail. Horse trailer preparedness is not just items to be checked off a list.

They are crucial components that ensure the safety, comfort, and convenience of both you and your equine companions. Let’s dive into the why and how of these indispensable items, highlighting their practicality and real-world application.

1. Emergency Roadside Kit: Your Safety Net

Imagine being stranded on a highway with a horse in tow. An emergency roadside kit is your first line of defense. It should include items like reflective triangles for visibility, a reliable tow strap, jumper cables for unexpected battery failures, and a sturdy flashlight. These items are not just tools; they are your safeguards in unpredictable situations, ensuring you can handle roadside emergencies with confidence.

2. Tire Changing Tools: Preparedness on the Go

A flat tire can happen at any time, and being prepared is key. Essential tools include a well-fitting tire iron or a cordless impact wrench and drive-up blocks to easily lift the trailer. These tools are not just conveniences; they are vital for a quick and safe tire change, minimizing the time you and your horses spend vulnerable on the roadside.

3. Water Storage: Hydration is Key

Horses need regular access to water, especially during long trips. Adequate water storage is essential, not just for hydration but also for your horse’s overall well-being. Opt for containers that suit the size of your trailer and the duration of your journey. This isn’t just about quenching thirst; it’s about ensuring the health and comfort of your horses throughout the journey.

4. First Aid Kits: Equine and Human

A well-stocked first aid kit for both horses and humans is a must. For your equine friends, include items like wound cleaner, bandages, and a thermometer. For yourself, essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, and antiseptics are crucial. These kits are more than just collections of medical supplies; they are your assurance of being prepared for any minor injuries or health issues that might arise.

5. Additional Essentials: The Extras That Matter

Other items, though not always top of mind, can be lifesavers. These include extra halters and lead ropes, a basic tool set for quick repairs, and reflective stickers for increased visibility. These extras aren’t just add-ons; they are practical solutions for unexpected situations, enhancing safety and convenience on your journey.

Incorporating these essentials into your horse trailering routine is not just about ticking boxes; it’s about creating a safe, stress-free, and enjoyable experience for both you and your horses. Each item plays a critical role in ensuring that your journey is as smooth as it is memorable. As we prepare for the road ahead, let’s remember that the key to a successful trip lies in the details.

Detailed Guide on Essential Items

Embarking on a journey with your horse is an adventure that requires more than just a destination in mind. It’s a process that calls for careful consideration of what you bring along. This detailed guide on essential items is crafted to ensure that your horse trailering experience is as smooth and safe as possible.

Here, we delve into the specifics of each item you’ll need, explaining not only what to include but also why each is crucial for the well-being of your horse and your peace of mind. From the must-haves to the often-overlooked, we cover everything to prepare you for the road ahead.

Roadside emergency kits are a must-have when traveling

Roadside emergency kits ensure you have some safety items on hand in case your vehicle breaks down or you have a flat tire. When choosing items for your emergency kit, expect that you’ll have to rely on them to function according to their intended purpose. In other words, buy equipment that works. .trailer edited
Loading up for a barrel race.

Safety is paramount when pulling a horse trailer.

If you have to stop on the side of a busy road with your horse trailer for even a short period, an emergency roadside kit is invaluable. You don’t want to rely on inferior products.

Roadside emergency kits range from essential to deluxe packages with supplies that are useless. Some are full of cheap gear that doesn’t work, and others don’t have the necessary critical items.

EVERLIT Roadside Assistance Kit, Car Emergency Kit Assistance Car Kit with Digital Air Compressor, 12FT Jumper Cable, Tow Strap, Flashlight, 108 Pieces First Aid Supplies (with Air Compressor)

The best kit is one you put together yourself.

The best kit is likely one you put together yourself. Think about what items are important to you. For us the following items are must-haves in any emergency roadside kit when pulling a horse trailer:

  • Roadside Triangles: At least three roadside triangles. If you have to change a tire on the side of the road, these will provide visibility. Get the DOT-approved ones. You can click here to check prices on Amazon.
  • Tow Strap: A tow strap can pull you when stuck or disconnect your truck from the horse trailer. You can click here to check prices on Amazon.
  • Jumper Cables: Automobile batteries seem to go dead at the most inopportune times. Having a good pair of jumper cables handy can save the day. A good set of jumper cables should be at least ten feet long and have a thick rubber coating.   You can click here to check prices on Amazon.
  • Flashlight: A flashlight is critical when breaking down at night but is not useful if the batteries are dead, so include an extra set. You can click here to check prices on Amazon.
  • Duct Tape: Duct tape is a problem solver. Its uses are many; keep a roll in your kit; its usefulness will surprise you. You can click here to check prices on Amazon.
  • Knife: A multi-purpose knife or even a single-blade pocket knife may come in handy to cut straps or rope.
  • Lighter: A sturdy lighter should be a staple in all emergency kits.

These are the vital items needed in your emergency kit. However, the great thing about putting your package together is you choose the brands and styles you like and can add or subtract items to fit your needs. The downside is the costs.

Some pre-packaged roadside kits are sufficient.

The following are some of the better roadside emergency kits for your horse trailer for people that don’t feel like shopping for each item:

  • STDY Auto Emergency Kit:  This unit comes with 57 pieces, which include the basics plus gloves, ponchos, and blankets. What I don’t like: It only has one emergency roadside triangle, the jumper cables are low quality, and it’s hard to get everything back in the bag. But the kit is reasonably priced at $32.00. Click here to check the most recent prices from Amazon.
  • 110-Piece Roadside Emergency Kit: This is a more comprehensive kit and includes a first aid kit with 64 pieces. The tow strap is more substantial in this kit, but the jumper cable is not good quality. It is also reasonable at $50.00. Click here to check the most recent prices from Amazon.
  • Premium Roadside Emergency Kit: This kit includes all the necessary items, plus an air compressor, which is handy. Click here to check the most recent prices from Amazon.
USB Rechargeable LED Road Flares Emergency Lights-Roadside Warning Car Safety Beacon Flashing Disc Flare Kit with Magnetic Base for Vehicles & Boat | 3 Beacon Disc Pack

Pre-packaged kits typically lack quality products.

Roadside emergency kits are handy, compact, and economically priced. But the quality of the individual items, on the whole, is not as good as the items you buy individually.

I’ve done my research on these kits, but it’s prudent to check out Amazon customer reviews before you buy. Often, customer reviews provide useful information and address issues you may not have considered. Here are the links so you can read what other customers have to say:

Tire Changing Tools are a must-have when hauling.

Be prepared to change a flat tire on your horse trailer because it’s not a question of if you’ll get a flat tire; it’s when. So be ready for that day. What you need:

  • Tire Iron or cordless impact wrench: Cordless impact wrenches are expensive, but considering the time and energy saved, they are worth the price. Check here for current rates from Amazon. Always ensure your tire iron fits your lugs, and if you go with the impact wrench, you have the right-sized socket to fit the lugs.
  • Drive-up blocks– With a drive-up block, you can lift the deflated tire off the ground tire without a jack. The block makes changing a tire quicker and safer than using standard jacks. The faster you get off the side of the road, the better. Check here for current prices from Amazon.
  • Screwdriver: You may also need a unique tool or screwdriver to remove decorative lug covers. Before leaving your house with your trailer, ensure you have the tools to get your lugs off.

Water is a must-have for all trips.

Horses dehydrate without water, so you have to plan for the unexpected. We purchased a yearling at an auction, and on our way home, we had to cross the Atchafalaya Basin bridge, which spans more than twenty miles.

About halfway across the bridge, we got stuck in traffic for seven hours with our new horse in tow. It was late August in south Louisiana, a sweltering day. If we hadn’t had water in the horse trailer, our horse could have been dehydrated.

When looking for a container to store water, consider the number of horses you haul and available space. You want to carry enough water to fill a couple of buckets. If you need containers in a hurry, Walmart sells some quality water containers.

  • 10 Gallon Tank: This is a heavy-duty tank molded from plastic material. Check here for current prices from Amazon.
  • 10 Gallon Tote: This is a handy model; it is designed to save space and has wheels that make it easy to move. Check here for current prices from Amazon.
  • 7 Gallon Container This is also made of sturdy plastic and is designed for secure storage. Check here for current rates from Amazon.

Keep an equine first aid kit in your trailer.

In an emergency, there are necessary first aid tools that are critical to have on hand to treat your horse. Click here for an excellent pre-packaged equine first aid kit.

Picture of Farnam wonder dust.,
  • Rectal thermometer– This is a quick reading, handy digital thermometer.
  • Vaseline– Keep a small jar of Vaseline to ease the insertion of the thermometer and as a salve for dry areas.
  • Stethoscope: For a stethoscope to be useful, you need to learn how it’s used and what to listen for. The stethoscope has two primary purposes, listen to a horse’s gut and check its heart rate. A resting pulse is generally between 32 and 40 bpm. The best place for the stethoscope is in front of the girth area, just behind the elbow. When listening to the gut, you should hear a low growling noise. If you don’t hear any noise, or if the sounds are high pitched, significantly slowed, or sound hollow, colic is likely, contact your veterinarian immediately. Practice with your stethoscope so you are familiar with standard conditions.
  • Wound cleaner– Use this spray to wash out the wound and treat superficial wounds.
  • Antibacterial spray: It can be used to clean and assist in killing bacteria, fungus, and viruses.
  • Wonder Dust: Wonder Dust is useful to quickly stop the bleeding of horse wounds. It is a powder and blood coagulant used on particular types of wounds.
  • Cotton or Gauze: Use clean, sterile material to cover the wound. Cotton or gauze is recommended.
  • Vet Wrap/Self-stick bandages: After treating the wound and covering it appropriately with cotton or gauze, it needs to be secured with self-sticking bandages and vet wrap.
  • Bandage scissors: These scissors have blunted tips to avoid accidentally cutting your horse when removing bandages.
  • Tweezers– Tweezers are useful in pulling ticks and splinters. They have many uses and are vital tools in a first aid kit.
  • Twitch– A horse twitch is a tool used to restrain a horse. The twitch is useful sometimes when caring for a wounded horse.
  • Cold Pack– Cooling the injured area is sometimes the best treatment. Ice or cold wraps improve tendon, joint, muscle, and other soft tissue injuries. By applying lower temperatures to the injured area, blood flow decreases and slows the metabolism of the surrounding tissue. Cold therapy reduces swelling, alleviates pain, and slows bleeding.
  • Salve–  is a good product for use on superficial wounds and treats proud flesh.
Picture of a 5 horse gooseneck trailer.
Gooseneck horse trailer with living quarters.

Keep a human first aid kit in your horse trailer.

It is essential to keep a well-stocked first-aid kit in your horse trailer so you’re prepared for emergencies. Having one in your horse trailer when you are traveling is critical. You may be injured riding or hurt yourself while handling your horse.

You can purchase pre-packaged first aid kits or put one together yourself with the items you think are essential to meet your specific needs. There are a lot of different first aid kits on the market.

The one we suggest is Surviveware, it is a comprehensive first aid kit housed in a durable waterproof bag, and it’s easy to store. Before loading your horse, pack a first aid kit for the trip.

You can get most of the items you need from your local pharmacy if you like to shop online; I provided the links to Amazon for your convenience.

Essential items for your first aid kit:

  • Band-Aids and gauze pads for covering cuts and cleaning wounds
  • Safety pins and adhesive tape for securing bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment- The application can reduce the risk of infections
  • Antiseptic and hydrocortisone cream for skin inflammation and rashes
  • Antihistamine for allergic reactions
  • Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or other pain-relieving medication
  • Aloe Vera to treat mild burns
  • Vaseline
  • A digital thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • Curved scissors—the medical kind that doesn’t have a pointy edge and is used for cutting clothing away from an injury
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Saline solution for eye washing or cleaning wounds
Picture of the horse trailer we use to haul our racehorses.  Horse trailer preparedness is essential.
Gooseneck we use to haul our racehorses.

Additional Recommendations

This section is the catch-all for separate items you should have when hauling your horse.

  • Reflective Caution Horse Sticker to apply on your trailer
  • Buckets– Extra buckets are always useful; it’s also advisable to keep a supply of large sponges on hand as well.
  • Tool Set– You need a fundamental tool bag with a hammer, screwdrivers, and utility knife. Amazon sells a set that is easy to store and reasonably priced. Click this link to check its current price.
  • Extra halters and lead ropes: There are three major categories of halters rope, web, and leather. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages, but whichever kind you choose, make sure your halters fit your horse. Remember safety first. Knotty Girlz makes a quality rope-style halter that can be purchased for about twenty dollars. You can click their link to check the current price. Don’t skimp and waste your money on a low-quality lead rope, as they don’t last. Weaver sells a lead rope for twelve dollars with a non-rust snap hook, and it’s made of good material.
  • Tack box– Make sure you have brushes, hoof pick, curry, and sweat scraper. Amazon sells a sufficient all-in-one kit that is easy to store.
  • Broom, shovel, stall fork– It is always good to have these tools with you because you never know when they’ll be needed.
  • Horsefly spray– You never know where you may encounter insects. It’s good practice to keep horsefly spray in your horse trailer. Some effective home remedies can be made from easy-to-get items like vinegar, oils, and soap. If you buy a commercial spray instead, Pyranha is a good choice.
  • Folder: Have a binder in your trailer with a copy of your horses’ papers, including its current negative Coggins test. Some horse shows require a Coggins before horses are allowed on the competition grounds.

Here is a YouTube video on horse trailer essentials.

YouTube video

Conclusion: Horse Trailer Preparedness

As we wrap up this journey through the essentials of horse trailering, let’s revisit the key points that make for a safe and successful trip. We’ve explored the importance of a well-equipped emergency roadside kit, the necessity of tire-changing tools, the critical role of adequate water storage, and the indispensability of comprehensive first aid kits for both you and your horses.

Additionally, we’ve highlighted those extra items that, while often overlooked, can significantly enhance the safety and convenience of your travels. Remember, the art of horse trailering is as much about preparation as it is about the journey itself.

Each item we’ve discussed plays a vital role in safeguarding the well-being of your equine companions and ensuring your peace of mind. By prioritizing safety and thorough preparation, you set the stage for journeys that are not only stress-free but also enjoyable for both you and your horses.

Share your horse-hauling experience.

I encourage you to share your own experiences and tips in the comments below. Your insights and stories are invaluable, helping to create a community of informed and prepared horse enthusiasts. Together, let’s continue to learn, share, and grow in our journey with these magnificent creatures.

Safe travels and happy trails!

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