Two-Minute Trailer-Safety Checklist

Is your rig ready for the next trip with your horses?

From AQHA Corporate Partner USRider

The last thing you want is to have a mechanical problem with your horse trailer when you’re on your way out or coming back from enjoying a beautiful dayat the show or on the trail with your horse. At the least, such a problem can cause a delay; at the worst, it can put your horse in danger.

Next time you’re about to hit the road, use this handy checklist to keep your truck and horse trailer trip-ready and horse-safe.

Check the Truck:

    • Check the oil, water, brake fluid and steering fluid levels.
    • Check the air pressure in all the tires.
    • Quick Tip: Carry at least one quart of oil in your truck, just in case.

Check the Trailer:

    • Make sure the hitch is welded on tight in back and bolted to the frame in front.
    • Make sure the channel that slides into the hitch is heavy and free of wear.
    • Make sure the nut that holds the ball in place on the channel is tight.
    • Make sure the king pin is through the channel and hitch.
    • Quick Tip: Be sure to check the keeper.

Check the Coupler:

    • Make sure the bull dog coupler that fits over the ball on the channel is on tight.
    • Put the keeper on, so the collar won’t be released.
    • Quick Tip: Make sure the ball fits the coupler.

It's easy to lose your temper when you're teaching a horse to load in the trailer. Unfortunately, getting impatient is the worst thing you can do. The late Bill Van Norman offers valuable trailer training advice in AQHA's FREE downloadable report, Horse Trailer Loading Tips.

Check the Chains:

    • Hook the chains from the trailer to the truck.
    • Quick Tip: Cross the chains, so if the trailer gets loose, they’ll keep the tongue off the ground.

Brake Lights:

    • Plug in brake lights and close the keeper.

Hitch Stand:

    • Make sure hitch stand is cranked all the way up and is all the way underneath the trailer.
    • Make sure the breakaway brake cable is attached to the truck.
    • Quick Tip: Make sure the hitch stand handle is flipped down.

Trailer Lights:

    • Check the trailer-light battery.
    • Quick Tip: Check for leaks in battery casing.


    • Keep the windows directly in front of your horse closed to help protect his eyes from dust and debris.
    • Quick Tip: Open the other windows for ventilation.

Living Quarters:

    • Make sure everything is secured so nothing falls inside the trailer and spooks your horse.

Inside the Trailer:

    • Make sure vents are open for ventilation.
    • Quick Tip: Use a keeper on the trailer door to make it extra secure.