Horse Trailer Repairs...Top 10 to Revive Your Older Trailer
Have you been looking at some new horse trailers and admiring all the great features that you wish your trailer had? Maybe your trailer is a little older or maybe just has doesn’t have any extras and you’ve been dreaming of a newer trailer. Everyone likes the features available on the newer trailers but not everyone is ready for the overall cost of going this route. Let’s look at some accessories and ideas you might use to make your existing trailer more user friendly without breaking the bank.
Before deciding to pour money into an older trailer, let’s make sure it’s a wise decision. Safety issues have to come 1st before any investment in accessories. Have you already been attending to regular maintenance for your trailer? Have your brakes been checked, bearings packed yearly, suspension checked for wear, floor checked for damage or wear, and of course all the lights working? Don’t forget to take into account the condition of the coupler, tires, axle and door latches. If any of these items have been neglected, then this is definitely where you need to start. But if your trailer has been maintained, you might be ready to look at some upgrades.
Of course you still need to carefully price any upgrades you might be interested in. Those prices need to be compared with the investment of a newer trailer. Spending a lot of money on a really rough trailer is never a good investment and it might be better long term to spend your hard-earned dollars on a new one. Older trailers are just that, old, and adding upgrades doesn’t necessarily increase the value of a trailer. So long term, those upgrades have to be valuable to you and your needs but not as a way to increase the value of the trailer.
So before we look at some accessories you might want to add, let’s remind ourselves about what you can’t change. The most important thing you can’t change is the size of the trailer. Older trailers tend to be smaller in both stall size and height than the newer trailers on the market. If your horse is cramped and uncomfortable, or tends to climb the walls, there isn’t much you can do with the trailer. You need either a bigger trailer or a smaller horse. Regarding height, some taller horses will handle being hauled in a short trailer but it’s not the best idea for regular hauling. Horses need to move around a little to maintain their balance and if he hits his head doing it, trailering is not going to be his favorite thing. I’m not saying you can’t add height but I can’t see it being cost effective.
If your trailer is in good shape but you're looking for more convenience, here are 10 great ideas:
- Cleaning the exterior - If you have an aluminum trailers, an acid wash inside and out can make an older trailer look almost new. Aluminum oxidizes creating a dull finish with streaks and marks, and the acid wash removes all of this. This isn’t real expensive and makes a huge difference in a trailer. For those steel trailers, the same can be said for a good washing and waxing, however you might have to do some spot repairs on rust to prevent further corrosion, or at least slow down the process. And of course this requires more elbow grease than the acid wash available for the aluminum trailers. A complete paint job for a steel trailer is usually pricey and it can be hard to find a facility with a paint booth big enough for some horse trailers. So spot repairs to rust damage on a steel trailer might be the way to go.
- Upgrade the lights - New exterior lights can make a huge difference in safety and aesthetics, especially if adding LED lights. LED’s are brighter and last longer but can be more costly, so either way will improve your visibility at night or on foggy days. To make your trailer more user friendly, try adding some exterior flood lights to make night time loading much more pleasant. And don’t forget a flood light over the tack room and some interior dome lights with a switch if not already available. Being able to find things no matter what daylight is available makes life much easier. And a switch by the door to quickly turn lights on and off, instead of climbing into a dark trailer and fumbling for a switch on the light, is a convenience you will love!
- Tack Room - Oh the goodies we can add to the tack room or dressing
room!! Any accessories to help with organization are great…brush trays, hanging door organizers, more bridle hooks, blanket bars, extra saddle racks, swing-out saddle racks and don’t forget a boot box. Some of these items are quick to install which helps to keep the price down and serves as a quick organizational improvement to your
space. Adding carpet to the wall under the bridle hooks is another great way to clean up the interior of the tack room. It covers all the marks made from the swinging bridles and can protect your bridles at the same time.
- Vents/Windows - If airflow is a problem in either the dressing room or stall area, think about adding some vents or an extra window. This doesn’t have to be real costly depending on the placement or size of the window. Or maybe you just need to replace an existing window with one that has a slider in it to let some air in. In a dressing room, a crank-up roof vent might be the way to go. While a little more expensive to install, a roof vent with an electric fan can be handy to quickly get air movement in a stuffy dressing room. In the stall areas, aluminum 2-way roof vents are great for adding air flow in any kind of weather.
- Wall mats/Divider pads - Adding wall mats to the interior walls can cover up a lot of damage and make it safer for your horses at the same time. This can be fairly expensive because of the labor required for installation but can definitely be worth it because of the protection it extends to your horse. If your horse damages the side walls by climbing, kicking, or pawing, bare metal walls can develop sharp edges and plywood has the drawback of dangerous splinters. Wall mats can reduce the chance of injury. Divider pads can also increase the protection to your horse and can cover other damage on the dividers.
- Auxiliary battery - Installing an auxiliary battery to run the lights is one of my favorite. Forget the flashlights, turning on the truck key or fumbling around in the dark. Just flip the light switches and you’re ready to go. Remember, when you are not hooked up to the truck, you have no power to run the lights without an auxiliary battery. During installation, don’t forget to run a hot wire from the truck to your trailer plug so this battery will recharge whenever you haul the trailer.
- Steps - The constant getting in and out of the dressing room can be
challenging if a trailer is a little high or when carrying heavy loads. Adding a step to a dressing room or tack room can make life easier for getting heavy saddles or other tack in and out. There are fold-up steps and slide-out steps that can work. Also, if you have trouble reaching the handles on drop down feed doors or problems reaching the inside horse ties from the outside of the trailer, the little fold-up steps are wonderful. Just big enough for one foot to step up, they fold up flush to the trailer when not in use.
Combo locks - Forget about carrying keys for your tack room door with
you at the next horse show or rodeo. No more worrying about losing your keys in the arena or on the trail. Install a combo lock on the door, set the combo to what you want and off you go. A combo lock is definitely the way to go! Worth every bit of the price! You’ll never go back to keys!
Water tanks - A corner water tank in the dressing room can be handy for you and better for you horse. Hauling water to and from your trailer to water your horse won’t be necessary and horses are more likely to drink better when the water is the same as at home. Sponging your horse off after a sweaty workout will be quicker also. There are also water tanks designed for installation in the hay rack if that is more helpful to keep it out of the dressing room or as an extra water tank for a living quarters trailer.
- Carpet and floor mats - New carpet or mat on the floor in the dressing room can clean things up in a hurry. Choose whatever will be easiest for you to keep clean. Matting is easier to sweep and carpet is better to vacuum.
Sure, a fancy new trailer would be fantastic but if you don’t really have the funds or maybe you only use your horse trailer occasionally and can’t justify the expense of a new trailer, these suggestions might serve you well. Now that you’ve picked out a few ideas that appeal to you, what’s next? Maybe you can do some of the installation yourself but if you need some help, our full Service & Parts department can provide that! These are installations and repairs that we do on a regular basis, so our experienced staff are prepared to give you suggestions based on your trailer and your needs. We have been providing horse trailer repairs since 1988 on just about any brand of trailer you can think of. And we have horses and use horse trailers every day so we have the practical experience to know what works! For any repairs, maintenance, and accessories, we can help! Give us a call today!