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Now that spring is finally here and the rain seems to be gone, trails are drying out and shows are beginning to pop up like green grass. Horseowners are beginning to think 'towing' and starting to think about checking out their trailers for safety when heading out to all those trail rides and upcoming events.

When it comes to that trailer care and inspection, the 'routine' items are always checked. The floor is inspected for loose or bad boards. Lights are checked to make sure they all work going forward, turning corners and even backing up. Tire conditions on the trailer are inspected and the spare is pressure checked to make sure it still has air in it from last year! But there are two items that trailer owners often overlooked. They are the 'unknown two' when it comes to trailer care and can mean the difference in easy use and horse safety when towing!

The first 'unknown' is the hitch crank. When was the last time it was inspected and oiled? Usually the trailer is parked in the fall, sits all winter through all types of weather conditions and it's never cranked up or down again until spring and heading out to that first trail ride or show. But teeth in the crank dry over and during months of wet weather, rust can set in and even make it almost impossible to crank up and down when hooking up to go someplace.

Most hitch cranks have an opening on the side for putting oil into it and for those that don't, oiling the teeth and cranking it and up and down a few times can make it a lot easier to use when it comes to hitching and unhitching. If it's really locked in a position, spray a little WD40 on it, let it stand and then try cranking it up and down. Remove all those cob webs, dead bug bodies, dirt as it moves up and down with a brush. And while checking the teeth and post, don't forget to inspect that safety chain (or chains) for warn spots and that the snaps or hooks on the ends are working too!

The other forgotten item is one that can directly affect the safety of horses in trailer AND the general public. What is it? That trailer battery!

Tucked away in its battery compartment box we often 'assume' it's dry and working. But if a battery box is mounted on the trailer hitch outside in the weather, the plastic box it is in can crack from weather conditions, water get into the box and the battery can rust through. If one has lost the battery box lid and is just using a piece of aluminum foil to cover the box or even plastic wrap, it can hold moisture which can also rust the battery. And even if the battery box is mounted inside the trailer, the battery itself can corrode and it won't work. So open the battery compartment box and inspect the battery before hitching up on that first trip.

By making sure the 'unknown two' are inspected and working you've assumed yourself -- and your horse -- of an easy hook up to a towing vehicle and a sure stop for your horse inside the trailer!!


Bonnie Davis is a Bay Area resident, free lance writer and equestrian trails advocate with over 30 years experience. Her stories, articles, and columns have been published in national and international publications such as Western Horseman, Paint Horse Journal, Horse & Horseman, Quarter Horse Journal, Western Side (Italy), Cascade Horseman, California Horse Review, Performance Horse Review, and San Jose Mercury News.  Bonnie has also been a featured speaker at Horsexpo. Visit her on-line at Two Horse Enterprises.

Story copyright 2005 by Bonnie Davis and the Bay Area Equestrian Network. All rights reserved. The above article is the property of the Author and may not be duplicated or redistributed in any way without permission.

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