There are roughly 7 people killed and 45 injured each year caused by crashes involving a light vehicle towing a trailer in New Zealand. Trailers include caravans and boats as well as garden and horse trailers. Carrying any of these loads involves skills, conformity to existing regulations and obedience of laws surrounding towing. Specifically, horses are delicate animals to transport not only because of their size, but also due to possible movements that they will perform while the vehicle is in motion. But, transporting animals should not be a problem if you follow the rules and apply common sense when maneuvering a vehicle with a horsebox attached to it.
Pay attention to the technical aspects of towing and loading
The first thing to check is the towing capacity of the vehicle you are driving. As a standard practice, car manufacturers indicate the tow ratings of their vehicles that state the gross trailer weight both braked and unbraked that they can safely pull. NZ laws do not require that these be followed but they are recommended to be considered when towing a load. The law, however, specifies that a vehicle and trailer combination must be able to stop within a distance of 7 meters from a speed of 30 km per hour. Your trailer must also be equipped with front/rear position and stop lamps as well as reflectors, registration plates and direction indicators. Extended mirrors are also helpful for better visibility.
In loading your vehicle, it is critical to pay attention to the maximum loaded weight to prevent personal injuries to passengers. Objects and animals that are being transported must be also protected from harm. In the same manner, a horse must be secured properly using a harness for its safety. It should be tied in a way that it will be able to fully stand or lie down but not reach the sides of the trailer or climb out. When traveling long distance, consider food & water stops to replenish supplies and clean the trailer.
Practice specific maneuvers
There several maneuvers that can become problematic if you do not have sufficient experience. One of these is reversing, a tricky movement when towing a horsebox. To avoid breaking out in a cold sweat when confronted with these situations, you can practice without the horse inside the trailer to ensure your capability of performing this operation, especially in tight spaces. If you are unsure of yourself, you can also drive along empty or low traffic routes to get the hang of towing. Other movements that may pose as challenges include climbing or going down a hill. Use the low gear when descending and be vigilant of engine overheating when ascending.
Towing a horse trailer is not as straightforward as it seems because you are dealing with an animal that may shift during the drive. Hence, it is important to drive carefully, respect the speed limits and ensure that the vehicle & trailer are maintained properly. Above all, look ahead, prepare for the unexpected and remember that as you are big & heavy, you need more time and space to stop.