Drive Smart

Horseback riding is more fun if you conserve gas and save money on the way to your destination.

From AQHA Corporate Partner USRider

With high fuel prices, it is more important than ever to conserve energy and save fuel costs. You can improve your fuel economy by following these simple tips:

    • Drive more efficiently.
    • Keep your vehicle properly tuned.
    • Plan and combine trips.
    • Choose a more efficient vehicle.

USRider offers these suggestions for conserving fuel while traveling with a trailer. They’ll help with fuel economy, as well as your safety and the safety of your horses. These tips work for most vehicles:

Vehicle Maintenance

    • Keep engine properly tuned – Depending upon the kind of repair done, this can result in an average 4 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve fuel mileage as much as 40 percent.
    • Check and replace air filter – Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your vehicle’s mileage up to 10 percent.

Your trailer is an essential part of your rig. It can also be a scary place for inexperienced horses. Learn from the pros how to help your horse climb aboard willingly and safely with AQHA's Horse Trailer Loading Tips report.

    • Keep tires properly inflated – Proper inflation can increase your mileage by around 3 percent. An added benefit is that properly inflated tires are safer and last longer1.
    • Use recommended grade of motor oil – Using the incorrect weight can increase fuel consumption by 1-2 percent. Look for motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the A PI performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.
    • Drive sensibly – Aggressive driving can lower your fuel mileage by one-third. Sensible driving is also safer for your horse.
    • Observe the speed limit – The Department of Energy says that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.21 for each gallon of fuel. An added benefit is that observing the speed limit is also safer for your horse.
    • Avoid excessive idling – Idling gets 0 miles per gallon.
    • Use cruise control – Using cruise control (where applicable) helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save fuel. Do not use cruise control if you are tired or fatigued. In fact, if you are tired or fatigued, you shouldn’t be trailering horses.
    • Use overdrive gears – When your engine speed goes down, your mileage goes up. An added benefit is that using overdrive gears reduces engine wear.

The late Bill Van Norman had a tried and true method for teaching horses to trailer load. Read about it in AQHA’s FREE report Horse Trailer Loading Tips.

Vehicle maintenance and safe operation also helps the environment. A properly tuned vehicle with correct tire inflation, driven at the correct speed reduces the detrimental impacts automobiles have on the environment.

“Another tip is to lower your fuel costs by shopping around,” says Bill Riss, general manager for USRider. “Don’t wait until your tank is empty – shop for low prices.”

Through its Equestrian Motor Plan, USRider offers nationwide roadside assistance especially for equestrians. The plan includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lockout services, plus towing up to 100 miles and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary and farrier referrals, and more.

1Additional information about air pressure: Under inflation is the leading reason for early tire failure – tires can lose up to 50 percent of their air and not look flat or low. Air pressure goes up in warm weather, down in cold weather – approximately 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change. Don’t forget to check spares on both your trailer and tow vehicle. USRider recommends carrying two mounted spares for your horse trailer. For trailer tires, the recommended air pressure is stamped on the side of each tire. For vehicles, air pressure recommendations are stamped on the vehicle door edge, doorpost, glove box or fuel door – and owner’s manual. Check the pressure when tires are cool – before you drive.