Most people who own horses want to take these horses places: shows, trail rides, camps, etc. Most of the times, trailering training is focused on the horse (understandably so) and not so much on the driving abilities and plain vehicle/engine knowledge of the driver.
A few months ago one my clients’ friend, a very friendly and willing person, offered to take my client and her horse to go trail riding at a park here in Lexington, KY. Because my client does not own a trailer, her friend came over to my place with truck and trailer (and her personal horse already loaded) to pick up my client’s horse. Everyone was very happy and excited because it was going to be the first time that horse got to trail ride. They had a little trouble loading the horse, but after a little coaxing, she stepped up and everyone was ready to go!
They left, and about 5 minutes later she called me to tell me that the truck was smoking, and they were in the middle of the road, with trailer and horses. I immediately jumped in my truck and drove to where they were stranded. It was about 95 F, very humid, and the temperature in the trailer was rising fast.
When I arrived at the scene, the driver said she had spoken to her father over the phone and he told her to check the radiator… but… here it comes: she didn’t know where the radiator was. So I asked her to pop up the hood and I checked the radiator to find it empty. I asked the 2 ladies if they had water with them so I could pour some in the radiator. Intrigued, the driver asked why on earth I was going to put water in the radiator and immediately told me to stop so she could call her father to see if that was OK. Well, he didn’t answer the phone. I proceeded to explain to her that coolant goes in the radiator mixed with water, but in the absence of coolant, water would suffice for an emergency situation.
We were then able to start the truck again, pull it to a safer place to unload the horses, unhook the trailer, move the truck, hook the trailer to my truck, and load the horses back again, so her truck could be towed. We had a few other incidents during the whole ordeal, but everyone was safe returning home, both horses and humans.
Moral(s) of the story:
- Make sure you know how to drive a truck and trailer and also know a little bit about how engines run before adding horses to the equation.
- Make sure your truck and trailer are serviced regularly (her trailer coupler was very finicky and hard to disengage from her hitch and engage in my hitch).
- Make sure your horses know how to load and unload calmly
- Consider having a truck-trailer roadside assistance service (for example, US Rider as opposed to AAA, which does not tow trailers)
- Don’t panic!
- Request a copy of the “Trailering your Horse Safely” at SaddleUpSafely.org