Horse Trailer Safety

Your life is already complicated enough. The last thing you need, as a horse owner, is a long and complicated process for earning a horsebox licence. You will be happy to know that at Nottinghamshire Driving School, we offer a simple solution to getting your licence as quickly as possible and without spending a fortune. It takes only a few days to complete training for a Category B+E licence while a Category C licence can be earned in just a few weeks.

Once you have your licence, here are our top tips to stay safe with your horse trailer:

Moving off when towing a horse trailer

Every time you move off with a horse trailer, it is essential that you make full use of your mirrors and demonstrate awareness of other road users by pulling out into traffic at appropriate times.

Remember:

  • MSM – mirror, signal, manoeuvre – check all around your vehicle before moving.
  • Just before moving, look over your right shoulder into the road to check your blind spot – if your view is obstructed by the trailer, open window and stick your head out to see!
  • Every time you move off, follow the routine: Look over bonnet; check left mirror; check right mirror; look over right shoulder and finally check LEFT mirror (cyclists!)
  • THINK: cars; pedestrians; bikes; (horses!)…
  • For downhill start, generally commence in second gear – apply footbrake before you release the handbrake and carefully balance the release of the clutch with the release of the footbrake.

Braking when towing a horse trailer

When towing a horse trailer you should aim to leave at least double the braking distance you would normally when driving a car. Not only do you have to account for the extra weight of the trailer and its load adding to your braking distance, but you want to give your horses the smoothest ride possible.

Speed limits while driving a horse trailer

You need to ensure you remain within the legal towing speed limits

Towing speed limits:

30mph                        Urban areas
50mph                        Rural single carriageways

60mph                        Dual-carriageways & motorways

Remember:

  • Allow at least 2 x the normal braking distance between yourself and other vehicles.
  • Consider other road users – leave a sufficient gap for other cars to pull into should they wish to overtake.
  • Approach hazards at a safe, controlled speed.
  • Don’ t be over-cautious and don’t interfere with the progress of other traffic.
  • Try to stay within around 1 or 2 mph of the speed limit, where safe to do so – i.e. in a 60mph limit, drive at around 58mph; in a 30 zone, drive at 28pmh so as not to slow the flow of traffic.

Roundabouts with a horse trailer

Remember to take roundabouts very steadily – horses have problems coping with the directional changes involved. Position yourself sensibly, taking the correct lane for the direction you wish to travel and indicating clearly. Where possible, follow your line around the roundabout and never cut across other lanes, even if unmarked.

Junctions with a horse trailer

Approach junctions at a speed that will enable you to turn safely and stop if necessary.  REMEMBER: Signal well in advance to give other road users due warning of your intention to turn.

Motorways & dual carriageways with a horse trailer

Towing vehicles may not use the right-hand lane of the motorway, but may use this lane of a three-lane dual carriageway, if necessary. Be extra-vigilant in your use of mirrors and be aware that, as lorries pass, their wind-stream may ‘tug’ your trailer; be careful not to over-correct but simply hold it steady.

If you need to change lanes or overtake, signal in plenty of time and double-check your blind spot, accounting for the extra length of your trailer and the relative speed of other vehicles.