More help for a towing newbie - PLEASE! :D

Kat

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Hopefully I will be collecting a secondhand trailer this weekend, it is my first trailer so I am hoping for lots of helpful advice from you lovely lot! :D

I've got a suitable towing vehicle which has had a new tow bar fitted by the dealer. The towing vehicle is recently serviced and in good working order.

I've watched (and bookmarked) some videos on towing and hitching recommended by ROG - thanks ROG :)

I plan to get used to towing without the horse on board first, and that first trip home will be the start of that!

Any tips for the first drive?

Any tips for taking the horse for the first time?

Anything I need to do, buy or make sure I have?

Any suggestions for trailer insurance?

And a specific question, my tow vehicle has optional 4x4, for towing on normal roads should I be in 2wd (rear wheels only) or 4wd?

Thanks in advance! I'm very nervous, but hugely excited about the prospect of getting out and about with the horse! :D
 

ROG

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Get rid of your rear view mirror NOW before you get anywhere near that trailer

Check BOTH mirrors before doing anything and check them at least once every 5 seconds

Do not worry about those behind when you over slow for hazards - you (+horse when in trailer) and safety come first

After a few miles and bends you will be surprised how well the trailer will follow your towing vehicle line

The one that catches most out is the sharp left turn so make it a little too wide until you get used to it

When horsey is in the trailer just image you are blindfolded & kneeling on the back seat facing forwards unrestrained - how would you want the driver to drive the vehicle in that case?
 

ROG

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I would suggest a couple of lessons with a qualified instructor.
no real need for that expense - just find someone who is calm and has towed a lot for some pointers - maybe they will sit next to you for a while


I assume you have sorted out any licence & weight towing issues?
 

poorchickens

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Find an empty car park and practice reversing. I find it so difficult! Weirdly, straight line reversing is harder than reversing around a corner :p
 

ROG

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Find an empty car park and practice reversing. I find it so difficult! Weirdly, straight line reversing is harder than reversing around a corner :p
When straight line reversing - if trailer is more in one mirror than the other then steer towards the mirror with the most in it - when both mirrors have the same amount in each then its straight again
 

Kat

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Thanks folks! Think I'm sorted on weights and licences, I have a pre 1997 licence, DH will need to do the test. Car has a towing capacity of 2.6t trailer weighs 800kg, so plenty left!

Had thought a trip to the supermarket on a Sunday night for reversing practice would be helpful.

Will be careful about left turns.

Thanks for the suggestions. Anything else?
 

martlin

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I don't know about you, but I tend to be able to do things if I have to... I just had to reverse for the first time, so I did :)
Just don't worry too much and drive steady, remember that a trailer tows nicer with load than without, too.
One crucial bit of knowledge: if/when a trailer starts snaking, you take your feet of EVERYTHING and steer straight.
 

npage123

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Plan your route before you leave the yard - avoid narrow lanes if possible.

Ensure you've got enough fuel to get you where you want to be, and back!

Be very strict with yourself and get into the habit of doing safety checks before you leave the yard, e.g. the tyre pressure, that the indicator/brake lights are working, etc.

When you think you're ready to go - before getting in the car and driving off - check AGAIN that you've secured the ramps and jockey door.

Remember your horse's passport!

Stick to the roads that you're familiar with on your first few practice runs.

Practice reversing with someone standing outside and behind the trailer - so they can make sure that you don't crash into something (eek!)...

For reversing, I always think like this:
place both hands on the steering wheel
if you want the back end of the trailer to go towards the RIGHT (i.e. the car's right side/driver's side) - then turn the steering wheel so that your RIGHT hand goes UP (and left hand down)
if you want the back end of the trailer to go towards the LEFT side (i.e. the car's passenger side) - turn the steering wheel so that your LEFT hand goes UP

Practice makes perfect!
 

Toby_Zaphod

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When towing your trailer drive as smoothly as possible. Nice smooth gear changes, smooth gradual braking. Lose your speed before turning, remember you want to give your horse a nice gentle journey without bouncing him off the sides & the partition.

REmember to extend your view, look further into the distance & recognise what is coming up & how you will need to deal with it. By extending your vision you should rarely have any last minute manoevres to do & the journey will be smooth & horse will arrive without stress. Also if he has a good journey & enjoys himself when he arrives he should always load well.

Good Luck, take your time, be smooth & enjoy yourself. :)
 

Chocy

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Remember when passing parked cars/people/cyclists etc & going thro tight gaps that trailer is wider than car so u need more space!!!
With the 2/4 WD- 2 is fine for normal roads only need 4WD if need extra grip ie thro fields/mud/slippy roads & gr8 if pulling away from wet muddy showfield think thats only time I ever used it!!
 

CathySirett

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wow some good tips on here -- wish this thread had been around when I was towing my friend's trailer!

the main thing is to find a big open space, set some cones out and practice doing things until you KNOW what youa re doing -- havinga friend who wants to learn too is a great way of doing it -- learn how wide your trailer is, how you can turn, how to revers -- well worth spending a fun morning doing this for a future of comfy and confident driving!

Cathy
 

npage123

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Due to the extra weight when towing a trailer, your stopping distance will increase dramatically, so (as mentioned already) drive slowly and carefully at all times so that you allow yourself enough time to brake evenly/gently, thus giving your horse a smoother ride.

Be aware of overgrown hedges/overhanging branches, etc. It will at the very least scratch your trailer, but could also frighten your horse due to the loud noise that it will create (and even damage the trailer/injure the horse).

Give any hazard a wide berth.

Take care when passing large vehicles/HGVs, as you and them will both need more room than cars to pass one another. But you'll probably find that HGV drivers are more considerate/polite towards you than silly little speeding cars!

Horses find it extremely difficult to balance themselves at roundabouts, so always cross roundabouts VERY slowly (slow down as necessary before you start going round the roundabout).
 

Ladydragon

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Get rid of your rear view mirror NOW before you get anywhere near that trailer
This...even if not literally dismantling it... :) Get used to reversing your vehicle, parking etc using your side mirrors only... It's the only way to really judge how central/upright the trailer is behind you and there's no twisting around in the seat to look out the rear window or using the rear view when you've got something tall hanging off the back of the car... If you're anything like me, you'll find you end up using the side mirrors almost exclusively for reversing even when not towing...

Also, I'm not sure if it's any type of authoritative guidance but I always use the engine as an extra 'speed brake' going down hill... Don't be tempted to leave it in a higher gear (or coast in neutral as a lot of drivers do :eek:) and rely on the foot brake for maintaining speed... Drop down the gears so the car is slowed down by the engine in conjunction with the foot brake... Far less 'fighting' or standing on the brake to maintain a lower speed when your overall weight travelling down hill is much heavier...

:)
 

ROG

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Thanks folks! Think I'm sorted on weights and licences, I have a pre 1997 licence, DH will need to do the test. Car has a towing capacity of 2.6t trailer weighs 800kg, so plenty left!
DH will be able to drive as a B+E learner

SUPERVISING A B+E LEARNER
In April 2010 new rules were introduced for those supervising certain learner drivers but they only affected those supervising VOCATIONAL categories such as C1 C1+E D1 & D1+E where the supervising driver had those categories given to them for free when they passed a pre 1997 car test.
They do not affect those with a pre 1997 B+E licence who wish to supervise a B+E learner.
All B licence holders have B+E provisional on the paper part of their licence and can tow an empty or loaded trailer on all roads including motorways.
The usual rules apply when a learner is driving -
The supervising driver must be aged over 21
The supervising driver must have held a B+E licence for at least 3 years
L plates must be fitted to the front of the vehicle and the rear of the trailer
Correct insurance for a B+E learner

There is also the possibility if only having one horse in th trailer and the vehicle specifications allow it then downplating the trailer might be an option for B licence towing

Please post vehicle and trailer details in the HHO towing clinic if you wish to explore this option further - link below
 

Kat

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Thank you EVERYONE for all the hints and tips, really useful, and reassuring! Keep them coming! :D


I don't know about you, but I tend to be able to do things if I have to... I just had to reverse for the first time, so I did :)
Just don't worry too much and drive steady, remember that a trailer tows nicer with load than without, too.
One crucial bit of knowledge: if/when a trailer starts snaking, you take your feet of EVERYTHING and steer straight.
I'm hoping that the "just having to do it" thing will work! I think if I managed to persuade someone to collect it for me I might never get around to makng that first trip!

Remember when passing parked cars/people/cyclists etc & going thro tight gaps that trailer is wider than car so u need more space!!!
With the 2/4 WD- 2 is fine for normal roads only need 4WD if need extra grip ie thro fields/mud/slippy roads & gr8 if pulling away from wet muddy showfield think thats only time I ever used it!!
Thanks for answering that specific question. That is what I thought but wasn't sure whether there might be other considerations... It will certainly save fuel if i can use 2wd!

This...even if not literally dismantling it... :) Get used to reversing your vehicle, parking etc using your side mirrors only... It's the only way to really judge how central/upright the trailer is behind you and there's no twisting around in the seat to look out the rear window or using the rear view when you've got something tall hanging off the back of the car... If you're anything like me, you'll find you end up using the side mirrors almost exclusively for reversing even when not towing...

Also, I'm not sure if it's any type of authoritative guidance but I always use the engine as an extra 'speed brake' going down hill... Don't be tempted to leave it in a higher gear (or coast in neutral as a lot of drivers do :eek:) and rely on the foot brake for maintaining speed... Drop down the gears so the car is slowed down by the engine in conjunction with the foot brake... Far less 'fighting' or standing on the brake to maintain a lower speed when your overall weight travelling down hill is much heavier...

:)
Thanks, already getting used to reversing using the side mirrors in the 4x4 as it is a truck with a high top on the flat bed so very little visibility out the back.

DH will be able to drive as a B+E learner

SUPERVISING A B+E LEARNER
In April 2010 new rules were introduced for those supervising certain learner drivers but they only affected those supervising VOCATIONAL categories such as C1 C1+E D1 & D1+E where the supervising driver had those categories given to them for free when they passed a pre 1997 car test.
They do not affect those with a pre 1997 B+E licence who wish to supervise a B+E learner.
All B licence holders have B+E provisional on the paper part of their licence and can tow an empty or loaded trailer on all roads including motorways.
The usual rules apply when a learner is driving -
The supervising driver must be aged over 21
The supervising driver must have held a B+E licence for at least 3 years
L plates must be fitted to the front of the vehicle and the rear of the trailer
Correct insurance for a B+E learner

There is also the possibility if only having one horse in th trailer and the vehicle specifications allow it then downplating the trailer might be an option for B licence towing

Please post vehicle and trailer details in the HHO towing clinic if you wish to explore this option further - link below
Thanks for clarifying that, I plan to get DH to try towing with L plates as a back up, he won't be able to use our tow vehicle on a B licence as it is too heavy.

Thanks again everyone :)
 

little_critter

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Also, I'm not sure if it's any type of authoritative guidance but I always use the engine as an extra 'speed brake' going down hill... Don't be tempted to leave it in a higher gear (or coast in neutral as a lot of drivers do :eek:) and rely on the foot brake for maintaining speed... Drop down the gears so the car is slowed down by the engine in conjunction with the foot brake... Far less 'fighting' or standing on the brake to maintain a lower speed when your overall weight travelling down hill is much heavier...

:)
This... - when approaching a roundabout I start moving down the gears from several hundred metres away, this means I'm already fairly slow by the time I reach the roundabout.
I always approach roundabouts preparing to stop rather than expecting to go so then I never have to brake hard at the end.
Also expect other drivers to be idiots - I've had a few people pull out in front of me because they didn't want to get stuck behind a trailer. I'm afraid you quickly develop a thick skin and a 'tough luck' approach to other drivers when you have your cherished pony in the back!
Don't worry - you'll soon get the hang of towing, going forwards is fairly easy, it's the parking that takes the practice.
 

Kat

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This... - when approaching a roundabout I start moving down the gears from several hundred metres away, this means I'm already fairly slow by the time I reach the roundabout.
I always approach roundabouts preparing to stop rather than expecting to go so then I never have to brake hard at the end.
Also expect other drivers to be idiots - I've had a few people pull out in front of me because they didn't want to get stuck behind a trailer. I'm afraid you quickly develop a thick skin and a 'tough luck' approach to other drivers when you have your cherished pony in the back!
Don't worry - you'll soon get the hang of towing, going forwards is fairly easy, it's the parking that takes the practice.
Thanks!

Baptism of fire on the parking front, storage at our yard involves a fairly awkward manouvre, including reversing up a hill. Think I might chicken out and ask YM to do it, or possibly take it up the hill forwards and then manhandle the trailer into the space.....
 

little_critter

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Thanks!

Baptism of fire on the parking front, storage at our yard involves a fairly awkward manouvre, including reversing up a hill. Think I might chicken out and ask YM to do it, or possibly take it up the hill forwards and then manhandle the trailer into the space.....
No shame in that - I know plenty of people to when parking get it close-ish and then push it the last few yards. Be warned - this is easier on concrete/tarmac than it is on gravel!
 

ROG

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This... - when approaching a roundabout I start moving down the gears from several hundred metres away, this means I'm already fairly slow by the time I reach the roundabout.
The safest smoothest way is to change gear once for the roundabout or any other hazard

Every time a gear is changed it means taking one hand off the steering wheel and then there can be a slight jolt when a new gear is engaged


Modern vehicles are designed to be slowed on the brakes alone

Brakes for slow and gears for go during normal driving
 
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