If you’ve hauled horses anywhere, you may have run around the barn like a headless chicken, trying to remember all of the supplies you needed.
Or, you may have even arrived at your destination, only to realize that you had a flat tire, and there was no jack in the truck or trailer.
I made that mistake and had to ask a random person at a horse show to help me change the tire.
Horse trailer essentials like jacks, water tanks, lead ropes, and emergency kits are easy to overlook but make for a safe, relaxed trip when your trailer is stocked with them.
Read on for our handy horse trailer packing list that you can use as an efficient checklist to take the stress out of packing your trailer.
Table of Contents
- Packing everything ahead of time and using a checklist will make your life much easier.
- There are a lot of small items to remember, especially safety-related ones, which you hopefully won’t need. But a list will help you remember them.
Your life will be far more pleasant and relaxed if you pack a day or two ahead of your trip.
You don’t want to be frantically looking for items right before your 6:00 am start. I’ve been there, and I’ve always regretted it.
I recommend filling your truck with gas the night before. It’s one less thing to do in the morning or when you’re on the road with your horses.
If I haven’t hauled recently, I hook up my trailer a day or two beforehand to ensure the hitch is in working order and to test the mechanics of the hitch, turn signals, and brake lights.
Trust me, there is nothing more demoralizing than discovering your trailer lights aren’t working or your jockey wheel had seized only twenty minutes before you planned on loading.
Whenever you haul, you will want to make sure that you are fully equipped with first-aid supplies for both you and your horse and emergency kits for your truck and trailer.
First-Aid Kit For Your Horse
Of course, you hope your horse doesn’t get injured in transit or at his destination, but you want to be fully prepared if he does.
Watch this video from the University of Minnesota vet school that shares how to put together a comprehensive horse first aid kit.
The first aid items should include:
- Vet wrap. You can’t have too much.
- Bute or Danilon.
- Antibacterial scrub such as Hibiscrub.
- Poultice material such as Animal Intex.
- Antibacterial wound gel such as Neosporin.
- Clean towels and/or wipes.
- Duct tape.
- Electrical tape.
- Gauze roll.
- Latex gloves.
- Saline solution.
First-Aid Kit For You
We all know working with horses is dangerous. If you get injured, you’ll want a good first-aid kit for yourself and other humans.
Britain’s National Health Service gives a useful list of items to keep in a basic first-aid kit, so I recommend you take a look at their suggestions. (1)
Outdoor stores and army stores sell portable first-aid kits aimed at outdoor activities.
These guys have done an excellent job reviewing various kits, although I typically buy whatever is available at my local camping/climbing shop. (2)
Make sure all the medications in your kit are not expired. It’s also important to go through your kit occasionally to double-check that nothing is missing.
Roadside Emergency Kit For Your Truck and Trailer
Vehicle breakdowns or problems are a nightmare when you’re hauling horses. You want to be as well-prepared as possible with the following essential items:
- Roadside emergency triangle. This will warn approaching vehicles that you’re stuck on the side of the road.
- Hi-viz vest or tabard, so you can be seen if you have to work on your vehicles at the roadside.
- A jack (or jacks) that can be used on a truck and trailer.
- Trailer blocks or chocks. If you can lift the trailer by driving it onto a block to change a tire, that is much safer than using a jack.
- Tire iron.
- Spare tires for both your truck and trailer.
- Your wheel locking key if your vehicle has a locking lugnut.
- Jumper cables.
- WD-40 for seized bits of metal or latches.
- More duct tape. You should have an endless supply of this for all things.
- A utility knife like a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife.
- A tow chain or rope in case you get stuck.
- Spare fuses.
- Lug wrench.
- A tool kit that includes a set of spanners, a hammer, and screwdrivers.
- Emergency blankets if you get caught in cold weather.
- Tire chains if getting stuck in the snow might be a problem.
- A shovel for digging yourself out of snow.
Horse Care and Riding Essentials
I’ve mentioned the stuff you hope to never have to use. Now, it’s time to look at the stuff you probably will use on your trip and really don’t want to forget.
Modify this list for whatever you’ll be doing with your horse.
For example, you won’t need show clothes or a stock tie for trail riding, after all, and a dressage rider or hunter won’t need a saddlebag:
- Saddle pads.
- Halter. It’s always good to bring an extra halter as well.
- Lead rope. I recommend keeping a spare one in the trailer.
- Boots, wraps, etc.
- Lunge line and lunge whip.
- Baling twine (you never know when you need to tie something or when your horse will break your trailer tie).
- Grooming supplies.
- Braiding kit, like rubber bands.
- Water buckets and extra all-purpose buckets.
- Extra water. Some trailers have water tanks, but if yours doesn’t, fill a water butt or two and take it with you.
- Hay nets.
- Horse feed.
- Horse blankets/coolers.
- Fly spray.
- Saddlebags if you’re trail riding.
- Hoof boots if you use them.
- Tie lines or temporary fencing (for overnight trail rides).
- Show clothes.
- Stock tie.
- Riding boots.
Your horse isn’t the only one in this partnership. You will want to bring stuff for yourself as well.
I’ve written a list that covers many equestrian activities. Adapt it to your situation as needed.
- Cell phone.
- Cell phone charger.
- Jackets and extra layers, depending on the weather and what you’re doing.
- Spare clothes (you never know when you’ll fall into a stream or want to change out of horse clothes).
- Bug spray.
- Handheld GPS like an In-Reach.
- Map and compass (Useful if you’re trail riding in the remote wilderness. Might be useful at a dressage show if you’re someone who forgets their tests).
- Gloves – both riding and winter.
- Comfortable shoes.
- A book (horse shows, in my experience, require a lot of waiting around).
- Glasses/contact lenses if you use them.
- Toiletries bag.
- More clothes if you are on a multi-day trip.
- Credit card.
Make sure to check our list of livestock trailer fans.
That Pesky Paperwork
Most countries require you to carry certain types of documentation when transporting horses.
Check the requirements of your state/country (and any you will be hauling through). This is an overview of the common types of paperwork you need.
- A negative test for Equine Infectious Anemia (Coggins). A requirement for all states in the US.
- Brand inspection card.
- Health certificate (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection).
- Horse passport if you’re in the UK.
- Your driver’s license.
- Insurance and registration documents for truck and trailer.
- Relevant road and trail maps. Don’t always rely on your cell phone. There is not adequate service everywhere.
- A written list of emergency information (i.e., vet, farrier, trainer).
- Show-related paperwork – the class schedule, your ride times, your test patterns, and appropriate membership cards (i.e., AQHA, USDF).
Should horses have hay in a trailer?
Yes. If they are chewing and eating, they are much more relaxed. On a short journey, you might be able to get away without it, but they definitely need hay for long trips.
Can you leave a horse in the trailer overnight?
Ideally not, but emergencies happen. To clear their respiratory system and prevent illness, horses need to get their heads down.
Your horse would be more comfortable when safely untied and should not be on a trailer for more than 12 hours.
Should you blanket a horse when trailering?
It depends. If it’s a clipped horse in cold weather, then yes. But standing in a moving trailer is stressful and hard work. I usually leave them naked so they don’t overheat.
Should you put shavings in a horse trailer?
Yes. They soak up urine and provide a softer and less slippy surface for your horse to stand on.
Checklists seem boring and tedious, but they will save you a lot of hassle and stress. You don’t want to turn up at a horse show and realize you’ve forgotten your bridle. It happens.
You’ll want to adapt your list to your horse, your discipline, and your personal needs. Hopefully, this gives you some ideas and a good place to start.
1. NHS Choices. What should I keep in my first aid kit? [Internet]. NHS. 2019. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/accidents-first-aid-and-treatments/what-should-i-keep-in-my-first-aid-kit/
2. Huetter R. Best First Aid Kit of 2022 [Internet]. GearLab. 2022. Available from: https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/camping-and-hiking/best-first-aid-kit
Emily is a native of Colorado, currently living in Glasgow, Scotland, working as a freelance writer. She is a long-time horsewoman, having started riding at the age of 6, then competing in dressage around Colorado and Massachusetts, where she finished her undergraduate degree in psychology.
Following a move to the UK and a PhD, she worked for a few years as a freelance horse trainer in Central Scotland. She’s interested in holistic horsemanship, fostering better communication and understanding between horses and humans, riding with lightness and softness, and she’s forever seeking out the newest research into equine behavior and psychology. When not writing, she can be found at the barn with her two equine partners, Foinavon, an ex-feral Highland pony, and Hermosa, a young Andalusian.
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