Knowing How to Maintain Control When Towing

When you're driving, you must always be prepared for the unexpected. Whether you're on a city street, a rural road, or a major highway, anything can happen.

By driving defensively and being aware of potential hazards and problems, you may prevent a problem or mishap from becoming an emergency situation.

Below are a few tips on maintaining control of your vehicle and horse trailer in potentially dangerous situations:

  • Swaying or Fishtailing: If you should suddenly need to swerve or turn hard, be aware that this can cause a load shift in your trailer. Horses are top-heavy, and their weight will shift during a sudden turn, changing the stability of the trailer. As a result, the trailer may sway or fishtail. To prevent loss of control, it is important to keep forward motion and tension on the hitch.
  • Stay alert and know how to react properly to swaying or fishtailing: Be sure to apply only the trailer brake and slow down in short pulses. The drag on the trailer will bring it back into alignment with the tow vehicle, thus preventing a jackknife. Once the trailer is under control again, you may apply the brakes on the tow vehicle. Applying the brakes on the tow vehicle before the trailer is under control can result in making a bad situation even worse
  • Stopping Suddenly: If a situation arises in which you must stop the tow vehicle suddenly, use your side-view mirrors to make certain that the trailer does not begin to jackknife out of control. If you notice that the trailer is swinging out of its lane, let up on the brakes so that your vehicle's tires can regain traction. Whatever you do, don't apply the trailer's handbrake! If the trailer is going into a jackknife, its brakes are already locked up! Once the tow vehicle has regained its grip on the road, the trailer will begin to follow the vehicle and will straighten out.
  • Navigating Steep Hills: Always use a lower gear when going up or down steep hills. This reduces stress on your towing vehicle's engine. When ascending a long uphill grade, keep your speed at 45 mph or less. The slower speed will help prevent overheating of your towing vehicle's motor. If you feel the trailer pushing you as you descend a hill, apply the trailer's brakes manually to slow it down.

This horse trailer safety article is provided by EquiSpirit Horse Trailers.
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