Life changing trailer tips

Seriously… yesterday I was using back up camera to hitch up but the strong afternoon shadows we’re making it hard to see what was what. I looked over, saw my daughter had a pair of bright orange socks in the car. I slipped one over the hitch and one over the ball. Next try just had to line up the orange spots - easy peasy lemon squeezey. I told her I’m keeping those socks in the trailer.
Also trailer related- somewhere on here I read about putting a small flake of alfalfa in the trailer hay nets — works like a charm!! My “special” chestnut TB loads easily now (he knows it’s waiting for him) and eats his hay while traveling - which he never did before. I keep a bale of alfalfa in the trailer to avoid storage issues at our barn.
Anyone got any more tips?? I have a BP w/o dressing room and am looking for ways to organize our stuff in the back of the SUV.

1 Like

Not just life changing, but life saving. I was 30 something years old and had been driving a trailer since I was 16 when I learned you are supposed to crisscross the safety chains. The reason is that the crisscross forms a cradle to catch the front of the trailer if it were to break away.

I would have never known if it wasn’t for the dealer when I purchased my new trailer. Since then, I have noticed countless people attaching the chains straight across just like I used to do.

The orange socks are brilliant!

1 Like

I once lost my trailer with the chains crossed, and it didn’t make one bit of difference. Luckily nothing bad happened, and I didn’t have my horse in the trailer. Funny though that I do still cross them.

Do you mean it didn’t help catch the tongue? I mean, if a trailer comes lose, I think it’s going to be ugly regardless! Glad nothing bad happened.

The dealer told me, and I’ve never confirmed this, that most places it’s the law that chains need to be crossed.


When my kiddos were little there was always a lot of confusion when we hooked up the trailer --agonized that I’d forget something important --then we made up the ABCs of hooking the trailer:

A --Attach the ball
B–fasten the Brake
C–hook the Chains
D–fasten the Damn bars (kids loved saying Damn out loud --we used weight distribution bars)
E–push in the Electric
F–raise the Foot
G–check the Ground for forgotten equipment
H–load the Horse (s)

If you don’t use weight distribution bars --you can put in something like, “Take a Deep Breath” or what ever you want to add that starts with a D —seems silly to some, but I read about a man and wife who had the whole trailer hitching thing down to a science --then one day headed down the road, their own trailer passed them. Each thought the other had fastened the hitch to the ball . . .my little Alphabet rhyme may keep that from happening!

The kids would sing it, and I’d do it, then each one would check to see that all the “letters” were done right.


Crossing chains didn’t help one bit. To make matters worse, I was on a one lane road. Luckily I was able to lift it up quickly and be on my way. So embarrassing…

These rubber ties have come in handy so many times.

Nite Ize Original Gear Tie, Reusable Rubber Twist Tie, 18-Inch, Assorted Colors, 6 Count Pro Pack, Made in the USA

You should grease your ball. Putting a sock over the grease would be really messy.


I put neon orange spray paint on a grease cap to go over the ball. You can also buy brightly colored grease caps. Then a bit of orange tape on the hitch handle, and away you go

1 Like

The crossed chains means that the ball is not on the ground so you have a chance of putting the jockey wheel down, to lift the ball back up, so as you can back the tow vehicle back on to it. Test this to make sure your chains are long enough to turn but not long enough for the ball to fall to the ground.

I have been taught in lectures not to do this. Give them half a biscuit of lucerne hay before travelling, as it helps by buffering ulcers. Do not let a horse eat while travelling, as it can cause choke, and I would not wish a choke episode on anyone, especially not while travelling on a Highway with nowhere to pull over.

I love the fluorescent socks idea.

Better tell the long haul guys this about the hay… :roll_eyes:

And the chain thing is hogwash. If your trailer is that close to your truck that “the ball is not on the ground” (it’s the coupler, the ball is on the vehicle), that means that the safety brake hasn’t pulled loose, which means it will just roll forward until it either hits the truck or the coupler touches the ground.

The jack will still pick the trailer up even with the coupler on the ground - the angle is not that severe such as the jack will extend into thin air. I wouldn’t want to do that to the jack every single day of its life, but in an emergency yes.


I suppose it depends on the setup. Horses chew hay with their head in neutral position all the time, and that’s how a trailer setup should be. It might be more of a risk with a manger, but with a chest bar, and the horse’s ability to eat with his head in neutral (assuming you haven’t tied him so short), that’s not much of an increased risk. What if the distance is 8 hours? 12 hours? That’s a great way to induce ulcers.


I was sitting here trying to figure out how on earth you could see the orange socks on ball and hitch – assuming back-up camera? Haha.

Another reason for crossing the chains is to prevent the trailer from flipping - especially important at speed, where if there is a sudden decoupling, the coupler nosedives to the pavement and that sudden impact can sometimes cause the trailer to swing and flip over.

I’ve had the crossed chains save me a couple times. Once, I was hauling to a pony club meeting and the hitch pulled right out of the sleeve! You bet I learned to always check for the pin on the hitch as well as the pin on the coupler after that.

This is not exactly a trailer hack but, I feed hay in the trailer and I use the hay totes with holes over the haynets (cotton): I’ve found they really do reduce dust and hay wastage on the trailer and prevent debris from flying around - I also use a fly mask on my horses any time I ship them anywhere.

I’ve told this story a few times on COTH but always check your trailer & hitch set up any time you leave your vehicle. Including before you load up again at a horse show, or before you pull back onto the highway from the gas station. Years ago when I was bringing a friend’s horse down to Aiken we stopped at a Walmart parking lot to grab lunch, and someone had unhooked the trailer and removed the pin from the hitch while we were inside. Consider carrying extra pins (I have them inside my dressing room) and always have twine and a jack on hand.


We must have different set ups. My jockey wheel swings up sideways for travelling and even wound up to its highest you can not swing it back down if the front of the float is on the ground.

You can if it is lying in the crossed chains. If that is happening the connector is still connected and you have brakes.

Our emergency cord is for if the chains break and the connector wiykd then pull out the emergency cord is activated then …you hope.

Personally I don’t travel a horse for 8 hours. I find a quiet place to pull over with grass every 2 hours, I let them graze and have lucerne hay and a drink if they want and the driver also gets a break.

1 Like

Hmmm. I would say a cheater bar for loosening lugs and lots of shavings on the floor to insulate against road heat (I’m in the deep south). Oh and check everywhere for paper wasp nests … those bastards hurt. Aerosol brake cleaner kills them instantly.

And yeah, cross your chains on a BP.

I once had a small trailer jump off the ball (learned a big lesson about ensuring the hitch was actually engaged on the ball that time). The chains were crossed. The hitch was on the ground. The jack could not be rotated down to use it. I had to jack up the trailer with my car jack to get the trailer jack/wheel rotated around. SO no, depending on the trailer, sometimes you cannot use the jack to raise the trailer…

Always hook up the safety chains

1 Like

This is just not possible in a lot of places in North America. Yes, stop. Unload? Nope.

My horse can practically choke on air (1/4 of a very small pear the first time - drama queen) but I would never, ever load her for a trip more than about 15 minutes without hay. Might as well just buy ulcer meds ahead of time and she actually loves her trailer - will dive back into it if she’s feeling overwhelmed. She will stare at me and do miniature rears if she figures she’d be more comfortable inside, tyvm.

Horses are built to eat off the ground, chew and swallow at neck neutral position, and even to browse. If the horse can handle hay at home, it can handle it in a trailer without any greater risk of choke than any other time. The risk of insufficient salivation for an ulcer-prone horse is far greater than the risk of choke AS LONG AS the horse is not snubbed with the neck in an unnaturally upright position.


I checked my state’s regulations. What they require is for the safety chains to be attached in such a way that the tow bar, or the coupler, can’t come into contact with the ground/road if there’s a failure. The chains can’t contact the road, either. However, crossing the chains to accomplish this isn’t specifically mentioned.

The regulations seem most concerned, to me, that the road surface isn’t damaged.

I need to tell our horses that as they seem to enjoy playing a graffiti eating the leafs off the lower tree limbs

1 Like