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Your trailer could be a deathtrap for your horse

With the start of the show season approaching leading animal welfare charity The Blue Cross is actively encouraging horse owners to check out the safety of their horse trailer before they entrust their precious horse’s life to it.

Trailers which have not been checked and serviced regularly and have been left unused over the winter months can conceal a multitude of dangers which could be a deathtrap on wheels for your horse. Respected towing expert John Henderson explains: “If a trailer has not been used for a long while you should check it thoroughly, lubricate moving parts and then take it for a test run. When you return home, check none of the wheel centres are unusually warm, which would suggest a wheel bearing or brake is seized. Only then should you load horses."

He continues: "Trailers can deteriorate even if they are not used. Winter weather can speed up the effects of rot in a poor floor and interior condensation can promote the growth of fungus whose spores can be harmful to horses. Tyres can perish and crack and may even get a flat spot if the trailer has not been regularly moved while unused. Water seeping into brake drums can literally weld the shoes to the drums, especially if the trailer has been parked with the handbrake on."

It is estimated that up to three horses every day need veterinary treatment as a result of transport related injuries. Many of these accidents are the result of poor trailer maintenance, with the collapse of the trailer floor being one of the most common and often fatal problems.

Andy Bathe MA VetMB CertES(Orth) DipECVS MRCVS RCVS & European Specialist in Equine Surgery, University Equine Surgeon at The Queen's Veterinary School Hospital, University of Cambridge said "I see at least two serious horse injuries per year caused by travelling. I would expect this figure to be similar for a lot of equine vets around the country, which would roughly equate to a national figure of about 1000 injuries resulting from travel every year."

The Blue Cross launched a Safe Trailer Campaign in 2002, urging owners to undertake simple checks before transporting horses by trailer. The charity is offering free practical advice and guidance on trailer safety and maintenance in the form of an easy-reference leaflet produced in conjunction with John Henderson.

In addition the charity is liaising with key trailer manufacturers, dealers and towing authorities to ensure that everything possible is done to provide for safe trailer travel for horses. You owe it to your horse to keep him safe so please keep your trailer in good working order.

To request your free copy of The Blue Cross trailer safety leaflet please telephone The Blue Cross Equine Welfare Centre on 01993 822454. or visit the website at

The Blue Cross is Britain's pet charity, providing information, advice and practical support for pet and horse owners. Through its network of animal adoption centres it rehomes thousands of animals each year. Its hospitals provide veterinary care for the pets of people who cannot afford private vets' fees.


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