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USRider Offers Seasonal Tips for Trailer Preparation

US Rider

During down-seasons, its important for horse owners to maintain their trailers. USRider, the national provider of roadside emergency assistance for horse owners, reminds equestrians to spend some time doing preventive trailer maintenance, not only in case an emergency arises but to ensure that their trailers will be in optimal shape for the upcoming riding season.

A good roadside assistance program is something all horse owners should have but hope they will never have to use, says Mark Cole, managing member for USRider. To that end, our mission is to continually educate horse owners about trailering safety.

A recent research project co-sponsored by USRider illustrated the importance of maintaining horse trailers. The data showed that a leading cause of trailer wrecks is lack of proper maintenance, said Cole.

With input from Neva Kittrell Scheve, an equine travel expert, USRider maintains a Trailering and Equine Travel Safety Area on its website at

Some of the horse trailer maintenance tips posted include:

-Remove and inspect all wheels and hubs or brake drums.

-Inspect suspension for wear.

-Check tightness of hanger bolt, shackle bolt and U-bolt nuts per recommended torque values.

-Check brake linings, brake drums and armature faces for excessive wear or scoring.

-Check brake magnets with an ohmmeter. The magnets should check 3.2 ohms. If shorted or worn excessively, replace.

-Lubricate all brake moving parts, using a high temperature brake lubricant.

-Remove any rust from braking surface and armature surface of drums.

-Inspect oil or grease seals for wear or nicks. Replace if necessary.

-Inspect and grease wheel bearings.

In addition to these recommendations, USRider advises horse owners to check all trailer tires, (including spares) for signs of dry rot, correct air pressure, faulty air valves, uneven tire wear, overall tire wear and damage. USRider recommends investing in a high-quality air pressure gauge and to inspect tire pressure before each trip. Always replace tires if worn or damaged. In addition, tires should be replaced every three to five years regardless of mileage. When replacing tires, always replace the valve stems. USRider recommends that only tires specifically designed and rated for trailers be used never use automobile tires on a horse trailer.

It is also important to service the wheel bearings annually, or every 12,000 miles, regardless of mileage due to moisture build-up. Be sure to inspect trailer wiring and lighting; inspect door

latches and grease the doors; inspect the floor (be sure to remove any rubber mats so the entire floor can be examined); and inspect and lubricate mechanical moving parts, such as the hitch and suspension parts. If the trailer has been sitting for a while, check for wasp nests, spider webs and any other creatures.

Cole also reminds equestrians to check the contents of their equine and human first aid kits. Any depleted and out-of-date items should be replaced, he said. A list of recommended items for first aid kits is posted on the USRider website.

USRider advises horse owners to use ICE, which stands for In Case of Emergency. This important initiative was designed to aid emergency responders in identifying victims and determining who needs to be notified. Implementing ICE is easy. Program your emergency contact information into your cellular phone and designate it with the acronym ICE.

Horse owners should also ensure that their emergency contact information is stored in their tow vehicle. To facilitate this, USRider has developed an In Case of Emergency form and posted it online for horse owners to print out. Simply fill in the blanks and store the paper in the tow vehicle as well as in the trailer. Additional recommendations as well as a Power of Attorney form are posted on the USRider website.

For additional safety tips, visit the Equine Travel Safety Area on the USRider website at

Neva Kittrell Scheve, along with husband Tom, has been involved in the horse trailer business since 1983. They have three horse trailering books to their credit, including the nationally recognized textbook The Complete Guide To Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer. The couple has become well-known for their high-quality EquiSpirit horse trailers. For more information about EquiSpirit Trailers, visit or contact them toll-free 1-877-575-1771 or at

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 lock-out services, plus towing up to 100 miles and 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 online or call 1-800-844-1409.