You might not know it, but towing services are not only for a breakdown!

As well as all the disasters, the flat tires and batteries, the smashes and the crashes, tow trucks can come in pretty handy for helping out man’s (second) best friend – the horse.

And here in Edmonton, Canada, we have the facilities to tow you and your horse trailer safely. But here are some tips about what to look for when you are hiring or using a tow truck and some general information about towing horses around the country!

FIRST KNOW YOUR CAPACITY

Whether you are using a truck which you already own or are looking to buy or hire a new truck for your trailer, there are some important things that need to be checked.

Start by looking in the owner’s manual of the tow truck. If this is a hire company, ask them or download the manual of the model you are thinking of hiring.

These are three of the things you need to look out for;

  • The Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR) – this is the maximum weight of the trailer and the tow truck, when it is loaded, combined.
  • The Gross Weight Vehicle Rating (GVWR) – this is the maximum weight of the load of your vehicle, which includes the tongue of the trailer.
  • The Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) – this is the most that the axles of your truck can support.

KNOW THE WEIGHT OF THE TONGUE

You also need to know the weight of your trailer’s tongue, because this is the best way to know whether or not you may overload your tow truck.

If you can’t find the weight of the tongue written down in the manual, then you will have to weigh it yourself.

NOW ADD ON ONE FIFTH

Known as the “20% rule” basically, you should ensure that your tow truck can carry one fifth more weight than you are planning on doing.

SOME TIPS ABOUT HORSE TRAILING

MAKE SURE YOUR VACCINES ARE UP TO DATE

If you are crossing state and country lines, then you will need to take travel documents with you in order to prove your animal’s fitness.

These may be a negative Coggins test, a health certificate and brand inspection.

Check with your veterinarian about the kind of documentation that you need and if immunizations are required where you are traveling to.

CHECK YOUR HORSE CAREFULLY AT EACH STOP

Check closely for any stress to your horse or horses, such as colic frequently during your journey.

We would advise taking a rest break at least every couple of hours, when traveling with your horses.

At least twice during the day of travel you need to check for a normal pulse (98-101), temperature (98-101) and respiratory rate (8-20 breaths per minute).

You should also check that the horse is not dehydrated by their gum color – they should be pale pink. The capillary refill time should be under two seconds.

Also check their skin by giving it a squeeze on the shoulder or neck. If it does not spring back straight away, your horse may be dehydrated and need to rest and re hydrate.

Familiarize yourself with the signs of colic. This would be if the horse is trying to lie down, doesn’t want to eat, or seems otherwise out of sorts. If you think this is the case, you need to consult a vet ASAP.

PUT BEDDING IN THE TRAILER TO PREVENT LEG STRESS

To make your horse more comfortable, place bedding in the trailer during the journey.

This will reduce the stress on feet and joints.

However, this is a tip for enclosed trailers only. In an open trailer the wind may whip up debris and dirt, which could in turn cause to breathing and eye problems for your horse.