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!
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!!