Your all packed up and ready to head out on your trip to your next driving event. You packed your trailer as usual, your horse loaded into the trailer nicely and off you go. Your a hundred miles into your trip and there’s a sudden clunk and thud and your trailer does a bit of a dance and you realize that you have blown a tire on your trailer, this is the dreaded break down.
You manage to pull off the freeway, which of course is where all problem accrue. You look and see that the tire is completely flat and needs to be replaced. If you are like most people you can’t remember where the jack is or where the tire wrench has gone to. If this sounds all to familiar you are not alone.
Dealing with a breakdown no matter what the problem is always stressful. Now when you get older you realize that having a service like USRider comes in real handy. I have been with them for over twelve year now and I would not leave home without their service. When you call in an emergency they always ask about your horses first before getting into the type of breakdown you have had.
There are so many thing, that one needs to make a priority, at the first of the year before you go out on your first trip. Trailers that sit over the winter have a tendency to have thing just come loose for no reason at all. Make sure you go over your trailer and check all tires, bring up the pressure on them as they will deflate some just from sitting, grease all hinges, check floorboards and mats and if it is a bumper pull check the nut on the hitch ball to make sure it is tight. Check your wiring to make sure all lights and the brakes are working well, we all know that those pesky mice and rats just love electric wires. Nothing worse than your trailer brakes not coming on in an emergency.
Now go over your truck and make sure it is in proper running order to be able to pull your trailer. You should always have good tires and brakes.
When you break down you need to have supplies in your truck or trailer that will help you stay safe while waiting for help to arrive. Some of the thing I always carry with me are:
Spare tire for truck and trailer
Reflective triangles (you can never have to many)
First Aid kit for both humans and horses (sudden stop can cause your horses to get banged around or you jam your finger while trying to change the tire)
Fire Extinguisher (one in auto and one in trailer)
Spare halters and leads rope
Tire Trailer Aid for changing tires
Lug wrench that fits both truck and trailer
Flashlights and plenty of batteries (breakdowns will happen at night)
Good sharp knife
Duct Tape (good for lots of things)
Cell Phone (charged up)
While your rolling along down the road always be aware of what is going on around you. If you hear a strange noise it is better to pull over and find out it is nothing, it might have just been a rock popping up off the road.
When you do have a breakdown and you are able to get to a roadside rest do not take your horses out. I know it can be tempting but it is also dangerous. I know of a driver that did stop at a rest area and decided to take her horses out but in doing so they were scared by all of the flying traffic that they got away. It turned into a really bad situation very fast. Your horses are able to rest just fine inside the trailer. It really is not worth the risk!
This is what actually happened when my husband and I were coming back from The Duck Club CDE in Venture California in 2011.
We were going through Sepulveda pass and just as we reached the crest we lost power in our Dodge and we had no compression so we were just coasting. We managed to move to the right one lane and get about a foot off the shoulder before we just stopped. Now this was a Sunday and the freeway was packed with people coming back from the beach, this is the dreaded break down!
We immediately call USRider for help. While waiting for the tow truck a highway patrol car pulled up and asked what the problem was and at the time we just knew we were dead in the water, later we learned that the clutch went out in the truck. The officer was concerned for our safety because we were so close to the edge of the right lane. Now to make this even worse there was an accident on the opposite side of the highway so the tow truck was stuck in that while trying to get to us. The officer hailed down a smaller tow truck that was just coming up the highway and with chains he was able to pull us about 100 feet into a large open area off the road.
While we were waiting for all this to go on, I was able to get our triangles set out so traffic would not run into the back corner of the trailer which is where my horse was. I was also able to go into the trailer through the door between the living area and the carriage area and feed and water him.
After several hours the tow truck showed up and picked up the front end of the truck and pulled the truck with trailer attached (it was a very big tow truck) to the Dodge dealership in Thousand Oaks.
It took three days for the new clutch to arrive in Thousand Oaks and be put in the truck. Our trailer was towed to a nearby stable where we boarded our horse and we were able to stay in our trailer. I always pack more food, feed and cloths than I expect to need so we had plenty for the extra days. The stable got a kick out of me driving my horse around their grounds. It was great entertainment for their other boarders.
In my years of hauling I have had my fair share of flat tires and engine problems. On our trip last year we lost one of the diesel injectors which started a fire in the engine compartment, now that was scary. Bottom line is that when you are traveling with your horse, no matter if it is a close or far event you need to be prepared for anything to happen, and then be very happy when nothing does.