Doing some fall maintenance on your horse trailer can be one of the most cost-effective things a horse owner can do. “Many people have the misconception that with aluminum horse trailers there is no maintenance,” says Laurie Cerny, publisher of Horse Cent$ Magazine and good-horsekeeping.com. “This couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
Cerny offers these five things to do to your horse trailer before winter:
1. Clean out your trailer: This means stripping out all of the bedding from the horse stalls and pulling up the mats and washing the floor. You also want to remove any hay and feed and clean out cracks and crevices (using an air compressor) where grain and hay may have fallen. Remove food items and other perishables (like fly sprays and grooming products) from your living quarters and tack room. Tack and show clothing should also be removed and stored indoors for the winter.
2. Stop any leaks: Leaks can affect the life of a horse trailer – more so with a steel trailer as water + metal equals rust. But, aluminum trailers will corrode where water leaks in and is allowed to pool for long periods of time.
3. Address rust: Rust should be removed by either sanding the area or wirebrushing. It then needs to be cleaned and painted with a rust-inhibitor paint. On steel trailers you want to pay particular attention to the frame – including where the sidewall meets the floor. Aluminum trailers also have steel parts – including the axles and the framework on the tongue (on a bumper pull), and the undercarriage on a gooseneck trailer.
4. Protect tires: Tires will go bad just from sitting and being exposed to the sun. If nothing else, at least put a coat of rubber protectant on your tires. Even better is to cover your tires. Dealers will even recommend moving your trailer at least once a month, or putting it up on blocks, to help prevent tires from flattening on the ground side.
5. Store trailer properly: The best place for a horse trailer isn’t always in your barn. Unless you are storing your trailer in a structure without animals and that has a cement floor, it will rust and corrode faster than if you leave it outside. Trailers can be effectively stored outside with the use of a trailer cover or tarp. It helps if you have a place that provides some protection – like alongside a building. Also, make sure you are not parking your trailer under trees, as ice storms and other winter weather can cause limbs to break off and damage your trailer. Living quarters should also be winterized if the trailer is not being used over the winter.