Following a few rules in caring for your horse trailer axle assembly can add to its life. Moreover, in the case of some of these rules, you may be protecting your own life as well. Using the following checklist before starting a trip with your trailer is highly recommended. Some of these items should be checked 2 to 3 weeks before a planned trip to allow sufficient time to perform maintenance.

  •  Check your maintenance schedule and be sure you are up to date.
  •  Check hitch. Is it showing wear? Is it properly lubricated?
  •  Fasten safety chains and breakaway switch actuating chain securely. Make certain the breakaway battery is fully charged.
  •  Inspect towing hookup for secure attachment.
  •  Load your tag-along trailer so that approximately 10 percent of the trailer’s total weight is on the hitch. For light trailers this should be increased to 15 percent.
  •  Do not overload. Stay within your gross vehicle rated capacity.
  •  Inflate tires according to manufacturer’s specifications; inspect tires for cuts, excessive wear, etc.
  •  Check wheel mounting nuts and bolts with a torque wrench. Torque, in proper sequence, to the levels specified in this chapter.
  •  Make certain of hanger bolt, shackle bolt, and U-bolt nuts per torque values specified.
  •  Make certain brakes are synchronized and functioning properly.
  •  Check operation of all lights.


Neva Kittrell Scheve is the author of The Complete Guide to Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer and Hawkins Guide: Horse Trailering on the Road. She and James Hamilton, DVM, co-authored Hawkins Guide: Equine Emergencies on the Road.