Riding

“Tread” Carefully When You’re Hauling to Go Horseback Riding

Learn how to read the tires on your horse trailer.

From AQHA Corporate Partner USRider

When was the last time you took a really good look at the tires on your horse trailer?

While air pressure is very important, it’s not the only thing that counts when it comes to tire safety.

Everything you need to know about your horse trailer tires is printed on the sidewall of the tires, and knowing what all those markings mean could prevent you from having a blowout.

Tire Size

Among the largest listings on the side of the tire will be a number that starts with LT or ST, such as ST235/85R16F. The LT stands for “light truck,” and ST stands for “special trailer.” Either LT tires or ST tires can be used on horse trailers, but ST tires are specifically made for towing and have some safety advantages.

Because LT tires are made for trucks, they are engineered to provide good mileage, proper traction and a good ride.  A towing vehicle has a sophisticated suspension with struts or shocks, torsion bars and springs. A horse trailer has a much less sophisticated suspension. As a result, trailer tires are forced to endure much more pounding when they go down the road.

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There is a significant difference in cornering, too. The LT tire sidewall actually permits the tire on the road to flex significantly. Again, the truck has a suspension that assists this action. However, when an LT tire is on a horse trailer with a high center of gravity, this flexing action can contribute to trailer sway, a very dangerous situation, and one that will make your horses think twice about loading for the next trip.

ST tires, on the other hand, have stronger sidewalls to handle excess strain. And, with their much stiffer sidewalls, will stand up straight when cornering, which is much safer for drivers and their horses. ST tires are safer and superior option to LT tires on a high-center-of-gravity vehicle, such as a horse trailer.

Load Range

This is the maximum weight a tire is engineered to carry when properly inflated. For example, for tires that are listed as load range F, each tire is designed to carry 3,858 pounds when properly inflated at 90 pounds per square inch of air pressure.

Together, the four tires will carry 15,432 pounds total, which is appropriate for the total weight of the trailer, four average horses, hay, water, tack and incidentals.

Tire Date of Birth

All tires manufactured since 2000 are required to have a “born-on date.”

Here is how to find it:

    • Simply look for a four-digit number that will be standing all alone, such as 0612. The first two numbers are the week of the year.  So a tire with “06” was made about mid February, or the sixth week of the year.
    • The second two numbers are the year of manufacture.  So “12” means 2012 was the year it was made.

Speed

ST tires are speed rated to only 65 mph.

Tread

Yes, tread is important on a trailer tire, so if the tires are getting thin, it’s time to replace them. But, even if horse trailer tires still have plenty of tread left, the age of the tire still needs to be considered.

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A good rule of thumb to follow is that five years is the service life of a tire.

When a tire becomes aged, it causes weakness of the tire structure. This causes the tires to fail.

For safety’s sake, inspect the tires on your horse trailer, as well as your towing vehicle.

For additional safety tips, visit the equine travel safety area on the USRider website at www.usrider.org <http://www.usrider.org> .

USRider provides roadside assistance and towing services along with other travel-related benefits to its members through the Equestrian Motor Plan. It includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lockout services, plus towing up to 100 miles, roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary referrals and more. For more information about the USRider Equestrian Motor Plan, visit www.usrider.org <http://www.usrider.org> online or call (800) 844-1409.