July 14, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Horse Trailering for Dummies

'BANG! I look in the right rear view mirror and see rubber spiraling off the trailer...'

By Susie Morgan

Hoof Prints in Santa Fe

Susie Morgan is a lifetime lover of horses, the outdoors and lives for adventures. She lives in Las Campanas, and is reconnecting with horses after working 27 years in New York City.

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I didn’t used to be this stupid – honestly I wasn’t.  I have been hauling horses for close to 50 years.  The first cross country haul?  I was 24 years old.  I can’t really say what has happened to me, but let’s just say I let my guard down.


We bought a new trailer 2 years ago – the first brand new trailer in my life.  About a year later, we noticed that one tire was wearing irregularly.  We had the trailer place check the frame and axels – all good.  So, we assumed we just had one bad tire and replaced it.  The trailer only had about 5,000 miles on it.

This year, we have noticed more irregular wear on 2 other tires.  My husband and I talked about just replacing them all, but decided to go a bit longer.  What we were thinking?  We were thinking it’s a new trailer and nothing can go wrong.

Flash forward to now.  The trailer has about 10,000 miles on it.  It’s a 3 horse trailer but today I only have 2 horses in it.  BANG!  I look in the right rear view mirror and see rubber spiraling off the trailer.  I slow and look for a safe place to pull off.  It’s bad.  The tire that lost the tread is holding air on steel bands, but the tread that blew off, flattened the other tire, took out the reflector on the wheel well, knocked off the grease cap, and took the paint off the back of the wheel well. Brakes, Floors, and Tires = the holy trinity of hauling.

Not going anywhere but home.  I turn around, head home and unload the horses.  They thought the short ride was awesome as they still got their carrots for no work.  It’s not even noon yet.  I cancel the day’s appointments.  The flat tire is impossible as it spins when I try to loosen the wheel bolts.  Time to head for the tire shop before the second tire goes flat.

I started with one tire shop; lesson learned, time to replace all 5 tires.  The first tire store had only 2 tires.  I waited for hours for the bad side to be swapped out.  Then, knowing we had a big ride on Monday, I called a second tire shop.  Yes, they had the 3 remaining tires I needed – and they were close.

A friend recommended Discount Tire on the south end of town. There is a good reason for using the store on the south end of town; no traffic and few streets to navigate.  But I am in the busiest part of town; St Francis heading for Cerrillos moving toward the closest solution.  However, one cannot turn left from St Francis onto Cerrillos heading south.  So I pass Cerrillos, and go a few more streets.  A few strategically thought out left turns and I wind up back on St Francis headed back toward Cerrillos.  All is good.

Wait, there is the Discount Tire store ….. on the other side of Cerrillos.   A few more left turns required to turn the rig around again.  Once at Discount Tire, things progressed smoothly and quickly.  Discount Tire had chocks, and even a block to lower the trailer stand.
Unplanned trailer maintenance takes much more time from a day than if I had planned ahead.  Worse, yet, the blown tire could have been much worse and put my horses at risk. 

The road rules have always been the same:  Inspect your tires, brakes and trailer floor and check your lights often.  Take every precaution and do not take unnecessary risks.  Our cargo is too important to trust to chance.

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