Loading & Unloading | Trailers, Towing & Horse Boxes

Once you have completed your ‘before you travel and essential pre-journey checks’; consider where you park for loading and unloading. It must be in a safe, level and inviting location, think about the lighting conditions as most journeys start early and end late in the day when the light is reduced.

Next steps:

  • When lowering the ramp stand to one side in case it comes down quickly. 
  • If the trailer has a front ramp, it may be worth opening it whilst loading, as it will make it more inviting, but every horse is different. If not, make sure the jockey door is unlocked for you to exit after loading. 
  • Ensure the breast bars are secure and at the correct height for your horse.
  • Open the partition (from the rear in a trailer) to allow enough room for when you load.
  • Some horses prefer to travel with some bedding down on the floor - absorbent material is always best to use, as it assists by soaking up any urine when travelling.

Top tip:f you have a difficult loader it is a good idea to practise loading and unloading calmly and frequently to get them acclimatised to this activity.

Did you know modern baler twine can easily have a breaking strain of 500kg or even more! We conventionally use baler twine to provide a weak point that can break in an emergency, instead of tying a horse to a fixed point, but this strength means a 15hh horse could pull on it with all of his weight and he'd have to put some serious effort into snapping it, potentially doing himself some damage in the process!
There are numerous devices on the market such as the Tether Tie that can be used in place of baler twine but for a cheap and cheerful cheat simply split the twine and tie up to a thinner piece!

Do you have:

  • Sensible footwear
  • Riding hat (with chin strap secure)
  • Gloves
  • A friend to help

Does your horse have:

  • Leather headcollar (these break under stress, whereas nylon headcollars may not and can cause friction burns or other injuries
  • Travel boots
  • Tail bandage/guard
  • Rug/sheet - depending on weather

Loading

Loading

  • To have complete control it’s recommended to have a bridle over a leather head collar when loading and then remove it for the journey.
  • On a trailer; If travelling one horse - load on the right-hand side of the trailer, it helps to balance as it corners. With two horses, the heavier one should be on the right.
  • Make sure your horse is straight whilst facing the ramp and lead them straight up the ramp.
  • Ask your assistant to secure the breech bar and/or partition.
  • Secure the horse to the tie ring via a quick release knot with use of bailing twine or something that will break if your horse panics; make sure the rope is short enough it can’t lower its head under the breast bar (if in a trailer).
  • Raise and secure the ramp(s) carefully to avoid startling the horse – making sure to stand to the side whilst doing so.
  • Complete walk around ensuring all doors/ramps and fastenings are secure, not forgetting to close the front top door (if in a trailer) when travelling.

 

Unloading

  • Once you have arrived at your destination, with your assistant, lower the ramp gently to the floor.
  • Untie your horse and place the bridle back on before you undo the breast/breech bar, or open the partition depending on what transport you are using. Do not allow the horse to rush off the transport.
  • If you have to leave your horse unattended on the transport for a short time at a show or event, it is advisable to ensure the ramps are closed, and to leave contact details in a visible location so you can be contacted in the event of an emergency.

 

Aftercare

Always remove any droppings, urine and debris out of your transport after each use to help prevent any rot or corrosion. 

It is recommended to thoroughly clean your transport out between every six months and a year (dependent on use).

The overuse of water when cleaning your transport can shorten it’s life as water can find its way into side panels or wooden flooring. When using water to clean your transport it is recommended to remove any rubber matting before doing so, and to ensure the vehicle is on a gradient to allow all water to drain off. It is best to leave the transport open for a suitable amount of time in good sunlight and air circulation to allow the vehicle to dry fully before closing it up.

Please refer to our advice and information page for equine disease prevention

Don’t forget to attach your security device (hitch lock/wheel clamp etc) when parked to help prevent theft.

Even at a show or event you should consider the safety of your vehicle and valuables. Make sure your transport is locked and secured, ensuring valuables are out of sight. 

Security Device

Further advice for transporting your horse

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