Guest post by Bosal:
Driving with a horse trailer is no easy feat, so you should get plenty of practice before embarking on a long haul journey with your horses. If you’re investing in your first horse trailer this year and you’re feeling a bit anxious about hitting the road with your extra load, follow our top tips for a safe and hassle-free journey.
Know the law
Do you have the relevant license to tow your trailer? A standard category B car license will allow you to tow trailers where the total combined weight of your vehicle and your trailer does not exceed 3,500kg. If your vehicle and trailer does exceeds this and your fully-laden trailer weighs up to 3,500kg, you’ll need to acquire a category B+E, which involves passing an exam.
Do you know the legal speed limits for vehicles and trailers? Unless signs tell you otherwise, stick to a 30mph limit on all roads with street lighting, and don’t exceed 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways. Keep to the outside lane where possible and only pull out if you need to pass a stationary vehicle.
Choose the right vehicle for towing
How much can your car tow? The vehicle’s handbook will tell you the maximum weight the car can pull, which is usually up to about 85% of the its total mass. A hatchback might be fine for pulling a small horse or pony and an estate or small 4×4 might be your best bet for a large horse or two small horses, but opt for a large 4×4 if you’re towing a multi-horse trailer.
Does the car have any special features to assist with towing? Some vehicles have built-in controls that counteract snaking or instability, which makes the trailer easier to handle, especially on motorways. As a trailer eclipses your rear view, cars with parking assist features like sensors and reverse cameras are especially useful for trailer journeys.
Choose the right towbar for your vehicle
Does your current towbar meet EC regulations? In accordance with European law, your towbar needs to have a specific height and dimension requirement. Check your towbar for a label, plate or stamp with a number that show that it is type-approved and details that show the vehicle for which it is an approved fitment.
For peace-of-mind, choose a towbar from approved manufacturers like Bosal, who engineer towbars specifically for the make and model of your towing vehicle.
Can I fit a towbar myself? As long as you use the vehicle manufacturer’s approved mounting points and follow the towbar installation instructions, it can be safe to fit the towbar yourself. However, to be on the safe-side, Bosal can arrange for a professional installer to fit it for you.
All normal road safety should be applied when driving with a horse trailer. However, extra care should be taken due to the fact that the added load increases your stopping and braking distances, and the trailer obscures your view of the road from behind. It might be a good idea to practice driving with an empty trailer before embarking on a long journey with your horse in tow.
When driving with a trailer, observe the following points:
● Always check your mirrors and signal well in advance before maneuvering. Remember to look over your right shoulder to check your blind spot
● Always pull away slowly to allow your horse time to find its balance
● Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front, around double the amount you would normally, to allow enough room for sudden braking
● Approach junctions steadily, give yourself plenty of time to pull out, and position your vehicle carefully to allow space for the trailer to turn
● When reversing, check both mirrors continuously. If the trailer appears more in one mirror than the other, steer towards that mirror to straighten it out
● When reversing around a corner, begin by turning the wheel in the opposite direction that you want the trailer to turn. Once the trailer is moving in the right direction, turn the wheel to follow it. Keep watching the trailer in your mirrors and straighten up when the trailer has completed its turn
● If snaking occurs, don’t make any sudden movements with the wheel. Continue to drive in a straight line and gradually dropping your speed by taking your foot off the accelerator, and dropping down the gears
If you need help with hitching up your trailer to your vehicle, contact Bosal’s friendly team of engineers that can talk you through it on 01772 771010.