The 8-Step Checklist for Safely Transporting Horses by Road

transporting horses by roadA long road trip can be a blast, but there’s always that gnawing question in the back of your mind…

How are the horses doing?

Are they comfortable in the trailer? Are they susceptible to any health issues? Will they be able to acclimate to a new environment when you arrive?

We’re here to help you put your mind at ease.

Our checklist for safely transporting horses by road will help you prepare your trailer and your horses for a worry-free trip. We’re also sharing some guidance from the United States Equestrian Federation (US Equestrian), a major governing body for equestrian sports.

Your Checklist for Safely Transporting Horses by Road

Make sure your horse has had a recent vet visit and is up to date on vaccines

In other words, don’t ride with a sick horse! While a healthy horse can withstand fatigue and stress during a long-distance trip, a sick horse will be at much greater risk for shipping fever and other travel-related illnesses.

US Equestrian recommends following the Equine Disease Communication Center, US Department of Agriculture and USRider News and Safety Bulletins to stay up to date on disease outbreaks.

Plan regular breaks along your route

You should plan to stop your trip every four to six hours for at least half an hour at a time. Take the time to check your horse for signs of stress or discomfort, and make sure to offer them water and hay.

Provide access to water

As US Equestrian puts it, this is “non-negotiable.” Horses need access to water during transport to prevent dehydration and overheating. If possible, bring a tank of water from home in the trailer that will last the length of your trip (including breaks).

If you can’t bring that much water when transporting horses by road, some experts recommend giving your horse flavored water about a week prior to your trip. That way, the horse can become accustomed to drinking from unfamiliar water sources.

Here at Blue Ridge Trailers, our team has had luck with using peppermint extract, which can cover up unfamiliar smells in the water.

Prepare their gut with probiotics

The stress of travel can upset the balance of flora inside a horse’s gut, which can in turn lead to digestive troubles and other health problems. Given a few days in advance of travel, probiotics can support a healthy intestinal balance when the horse is stressed.

Of course, there are a number of probiotics out there and each horse is different, so it’s always smart to consult with your vet first.

Ensure adequate ventilation

You need a steady stream of fresh air in your trailer to keep horses cool, comfortable, and breathing easy. An adequately ventilated trailer is also much less inviting to disease.

Leave room for your horse to drop its head

If you tie your horse’s head too tight, it’ll have trouble coughing to clear dust out of its lungs. Make sure you leave enough room for your horse to drop its head and cough downward.

Secure all items in the trailer

In the midst of all your travel preparations, don’t forget the basics! Tie down containers, buckets, riding gear, first aid kits, and any other objects in your trailer that might otherwise slide loose and collide with your horse.

Consider rumber flooring to reduce muscle fatigue

Rumber flooring consists of durable but flexible boards created from recycled plastics. It was designed to replace the old style of trailer flooring: aluminum or wood boards covered in a plastic mat.

Since rumber flooring can absorb tension during travel, horses experience much less stress on their muscles during the ride. That means they arrive calmer, happier, and less fatigued.

 

Did you find this information useful? You may also be interested in our seven trailer towing safety tips for peace of mind on the road.

8 Winter Towing Tips for Safe Trailering

winter towingYou’ve got a big thermos of hot chocolate.

A long playlist of Christmas songs.

Seat heaters getting you cozy and comfortable behind the wheel.

So are you ready for a long winter drive?

Not until you’ve done a winter towing safety check for your trailer.

Winter drives can be lovely and scenic—until they suddenly become totally terrifying. With ice on the roads, wind at your sides, or heavy snow smacking the windshield, you and your trailer need to be prepared for dangerous situations.

Follow our winter towing tips below to keep yourself, your horses, and your cargo safe on the road this season.

Winter Towing Tips for Safe Trailering

Before we get to the list: the most important safety rule you can follow is to keep off icy roads whenever possible. If you don’t need to drive in rough winter weather, don’t!

It’s also important to get familiar with general trailer safety rules for driving in any season, which you can do here.

1. Get Your Regular Maintenance Check

Before any long trip, make sure your trailer is up to date on its regular maintenance checks. This is the most efficient way to ensure a safe drive without breakdowns.

2. Consider Snow Chains or Snow Tires for Your Trailer

Snow-ready tires can keep you stable in inclement weather. They’re especially important for safely slowing down or breaking on winter roads.

If you’re not sure whether your route will take you into the snow, it’s smart to at least have a set of snow-ready tires stowed away.

3. Check the Battery

Cold temperatures tend to cause older batteries to die. If your battery is more than a few years old, consider replacing it before your drive.

4. Clear Snow off the Top of the Trailer

Grab a stepstool and a broom to clear snow off the top of your trailer. This will prevent a chunk of snow from dropping down on your tow vehicle when you brake. It will also keep other drivers safe—you won’t be shedding snow and ice into the road as you drive.

5. Know the Stopping Points Along Your Route

Don’t just wing it with your GPS! If weather conditions get too bad, you’ll need a safe place to pull over and wait it out. Travelmath has a handy tool that will calculate stopping points along your route for you.

6. Carry an Emergency Kit

Ideally, you already have a roadside emergency kit stowed in your trailer with flares, water, equine first-aid supplies, etc. For winter drives, make sure you’ve got spare warm gloves and hats stored in a dry space, ice scrapers, and tire traction mats in case you get stuck in slush.

7. Get Familiar with Your Brake Controller’s Manual Override

Your trailer brake controller has a manual override—usually a “squeeze bar,” slide, or button. It lets you hit the trailer brakes directly from the controller (bypassing the tow vehicle brakes). So if you go into a slide or a skid on icy roads, hitting the manual override can pull you out of it.

Learn more about testing and using your trailer brake controller here.

8. Drive Slow with Lots of Stopping Distance

This is true whenever you’re trailering, but especially when roads are icy. Braking hard can cause your rig to skid or jackknife easily.

 

Want more expert trailering insights? Subscribe to the Blue Ridge Trailers monthly newsletter.

Shopping for Horse Lovers this Holiday? Here are 13 Practical Gifts They’ll Love

horse lover giftsWhat makes a perfect holiday present?

It’s somehow both surprising and totally necessary.

It shows that you truly understand the person you’re giving it to.

And it makes their face light up as they rip the last shred of wrapping paper off and hold it up for everyone to see.

Want to give that kind of present to your favorite horse lover this year?

We’ve made it easy. Below, you’ll find more than a dozen unique, practical horse lover gifts that they’ll use and love for years to come.

13 Practical Horse Lover Gifts They’ll Use All Year

Trailer Boot Box

A boot box holds equipment that riders need in their horse trailers at all times. It’ll help keep their trailer organized and make it easy to find what they’re looking for.

Cold Weather Riding Gear

A high-quality winter riding jacket, durable gloves or thermal breeches will be appreciated by any rider who hits the trails this season.

Trailer Camera System

Nothing gives a horse lover comfort and peace-of-mind like being able to keep an eye on their horses during a long drive. Here at Blue Ridge Trailers we specifically recommend Voyager trailer cameras, which we’ve found to be the most durable and reliable.

Folding Saddle Rack

This handy device gets mounted on the horse trailer walls. It can fold up for a rider to rest their saddle on and folds down against the wall when it’s not needed.

Horse Grooming Kit

Here’s a low-cost gift that horse lovers can use every day. Depending on the horse owner’s needs, you can get a travel grooming kit, a kit for the barn, a small zip-up kit with just the essentials, and many other options.

Cover to Protect Horse Trailer Exterior

Here’s a gift that truly keeps on giving. A cover protects the horse trailer exterior from the elements, which in turn protects the trailer’s resale value. Just be aware that most trailer covers are manufactured too short—look for RV covers instead. Read more about how to get a quality cover here.

Saddle Cover

While we’re on the topic of protecting a horse lover’s gear, how about a saddle cover? Saddle covers are inexpensive and often have fun designs to let the rider’s personality shine through.

Trailer Fans

If you want to make a horse lover happy, help make their horses happy. Trailer fans keep horses cool and comfortable on long drives.

Ideally, trailer fans shouldn’t be dependent on the tow vehicle battery. Consider adding an auxiliary battery to run the fans independent of the tow vehicle.

Hitch Cameras

Make a rider’s life easier before every drive. Back-up cameras eliminate guesswork when hitching a trailer up to a truck. By looking at the camera monitor, the driver can quickly and simply line the truck up to the trailer ball.

Schedule a Professional Trailer Cleaning

The exterior of aluminum trailers will oxidize over time, creating a dull or dingy appearance. A professional cleaning will safely remove the oxidation so the trailer looks shiny and new again.

Blue Ridge Trailers has a professional on call that will make even the oldest trailer look bright again. Call us or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

Electric/Hydraulic Trailer Jack

This powerful little device lifts up a trailer for easy hitching and unhitching, so riders can save their energy for the trails. Contact us to learn more about this tool and the difference between an electric jack and an electric/hydraulic jack.

Water Tank

You can’t get more practical than this! You can even get a tank with a pump that makes hosing off hot horses much more efficient, leaving more drinking water for them.

Riding Lessons

If your favorite horse lover is still growing as a rider, this thoughtful gift will help them achieve their goals.

 

Shopping for a horse lover or just looking for ideas? Blue Ridge Trailers is always happy to offer our expertise. Call us at (434) 985-4151 or view current inventory and prices online, including a complete list of all after market accessories we offer.

How to Winterize a Trailer: Follow This 5-Step Checklist

winterize a trailerIt’s that time of year when we all start to ask ourselves, “how can it already be this time of year?!”

Whether you spend the warmer months camping, attending horse shows, or both, it can feel like every winter arrives sooner than the last. Before you know it, the leaves are falling, temperatures and dropping, and it’s time to pack up the trailer for the season.

But don’t snuggle up with a mug of hot chocolate just yet.

If you want to jump back in your trailer with no hassle next spring, you’ll need to winterize it properly now. Below, we’ll walk you through five practical steps to winterize a trailer so you can prevent damage from ice, store your trailer safely, and rest easy all season.

5-Step Checklist to Winterize a Trailer

1. Drain water tanks and pumps

Ice is the enemy when it comes to winterizing your trailer. As water freezes, it expands and can blow open your tanks, pumps, and the lines that connect them.

So if your trailer is going to be exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees for any sustained period (even just a few hours overnight), make sure to drain all of the water out of your trailer’s tanks.

If you have a pump, you also need to run it for 10 seconds, after the tank is empty, to push out any lingering moisture.

2. Learn how to manually override your brake controller

It’s crucial to get familiar with your tow vehicle’s brake controller, no matter the season! The brake controller sits in your tow vehicle, and powers the trailer brakes whenever you press your foot on the brake pedal. If you haven’t already, read your brake controller manual and learn how to test your brake controller’s functionality.

The manual override is usually a “squeeze bar,” slide, or button on the brake controller box. It allows you to lock up your trailer brakes directly from the controller, without hitting your tow vehicle brakes.

If your trailer is going to be on cold roads at any point this winter–even if you’re just driving it home for the season–the manual override can help if you start skidding or sliding over ice or wet roads. The override will brake your trailer and yank your truck back, stopping the slide.

Note to drivers: avoiding icy roads altogether is also an important safety step! If you don’t absolutely need to take your trailer out in freezing temperatures, why risk it?

3. Get antifreeze service for trailer living quarters

For RVs, travel trailers, or any other trailer with living quarters, a professional can run antifreeze through the water pipes to protect them from cold temperatures.

This method to winterize a trailer generally involves hooking up a bypass line to avoid the hot water heater, draining moisture from all valves in the trailer, as well as other technical processes. It can be done once at the beginning of winter.

When you’re ready to take out the trailer again in the spring, your trailer professional can “de-winterize” it by flushing out the antifreeze.

However, if you’re planning to use your trailer’s living quarters (including the water systems) during the winter, then don’t winterize. Instead, keep the heat running when temperatures are near 32 degrees or lower to prevent water from freezing in the pipes.

4. Wash off road salt

Road salt is great for de-icing pavement and horrible for your trailer’s value.

Before stowing your trailer, wash the frame and undercarriage with hot water and soap to remove any dirt or road grease. If you have to use the trailer on salted roads, wash the frame and undercarriage thoroughly just as soon as you arrive home, to remove the road salt.

Power washing is most effective, and hot water works better than cold.

5. Cover your trailer and park it off grass

Your trailer is clean, drained, and winterized. Now you just need to store it safely for the season.

First, covering your trailer will protect it from the elements–but as we’ve discussed before, not any old trailer cover will do, especially for horse trailers. Standard horse trailer covers are generally manufactured too short so they leave tires, bearings, and fenders exposed. Instead, buy an RV trailer cover to protect your trailer from its tires to its roof. Find them online and order based on your trailer’s dimensions.

Second, avoid parking your trailer on grass. Grass traps moisture and pests, which can wreak havoc over the course of the winter. Look for a gravel, asphalt, or concrete parking spot. If you can’t find one, put wood planks over grass to park the trailer on.

 

Got questions about how to winterize a trailer or other trailer care issues? Blue Ridge Trailers is always happy to offer our expertise. Contact us online or call us at (434) 985-4151 to speak to our staff.

Love Letter to a Dump Trailer: Why We’re Loyal to CAM Superline

CAM Superline Standard Duty Dump TrailerIt’s the strong and silent type.

It looks good into old age.

It won’t let you down.

The CAM Superline dump trailer has long been a favorite here at Blue Ridge Trailers. As a trailer dealer that’s committed to quality above all, we appreciate their dependability and superior construction.

But we also recognize that for the average trailer buyer, it’s not always easy to tell what makes a great trailer and what features are worth the extra cost.

With that in mind, we’ve identified our four favorite reasons to pick a CAM Superline dump trailer. Whether or not this leads you to a CAM, we hope it helps expand your knowledge as a consumer and makes trailer shopping a little less intimidating.

4 CAM Superline Dump Trailer Features to Consider

1. They’re “Overbuilt”

Every CAM Superline dump trailer is “overbuilt,” meaning its components are a notch bigger or heavier than you’d find on equivalent trailers. This doesn’t have a noticeable impact on towing, but it does mean that the trailers are built to handle heavy loads and rough roads.

It all goes back to CAM Superline’s history producing trailers for the Canadian mining industry. Those trailers had to be prepared to take a beating–and they still are today.

2. You Can Use Them for Years and Still Resell

Let’s face it: any trailer is an expense. Why not invest in a trailer that’s going to last years and keep its resale value?

Shell out for any old trailer, and it’ll start to deteriorate with use. But with a CAM Superline dump trailer you can use it, love it, and eventually sell it when you’re done with it.

3. They Come with Endurance Tires

CAM Superline uses Goodyear Endurance Tires, which are specially designed for durability and stability under a trailer. They’ll also remain cool while you’re towing heavy loads.

4. They Offer Specializations for Contractors

Not every CAM Superline dump trailer is exactly the same. Depending on your work and towing needs, you can get special features to make life easier.

For example, if you’re towing a forklift, there’s an option to add a mount for your tines. We haven’t seen this feature on other trailers. They also offer expanded trailer sides, an underbody toolbox, and a range of other options.

If you’re a contractor, you’ll appreciate that CAM knows the construction industry well and can cater to your needs.

 

Want to view and compare CAM Superline dump trailers? Check out the Blue Ridge Trailers inventory or contact us directly. We’re always happy to answer questions and help you make the right choice for your needs.

How to Test Trailer Brakes: Pro Tips from a VA Inspection Station

how to test trailer brakes

We all know that gut-wrenching feeling of coming too close to another car’s tail lights.

For the safety of ourselves, our cargo, our horses, and others on the road, it’s important to prepare for those scary moments when a car veers in front of your tow vehicle or stops short. If you’re not 100% sure that your trailer brakes are functioning, you’re not ready for the road.

Blue Ridge Trailers is a Virginia trailer inspection station with years of experience testing brake function and other trailer safety components. We wanted to share our quick tip for how to test trailer brakes effectively before every drive, so you can stay safe and relaxed on the road.

Note: this tip in no way replaces comprehensive trailer inspections. It’s crucial (not to mention required by law in Virginia and many other states) to get a state certified trailer inspection every year to ensure all of your trailer’s safety systems are in good working order.

Today we’ll be focusing particularly on how to test trailer brakes in electric brake systems, which are found in your typical tandem axle utility or horse trailer. Most trailers have two brakes on each axle–so if you’ve got a tandem axle trailer, you’ll have four brakes.

With electric trailer brake systems, you’ll also have a brake controller (a.k.a. a brake box), which is mounted in your tow vehicle. The brake controller sends electricity to the brakes themselves, through the trailer plug, when you press the brake pedal in your tow vehicle.

The brake controller setting will dictate how much braking power will be transferred by the brake pedal. A digital brake controller can be set to automatically override the existing setting, giving you maximum braking power in the event of an emergency.

The thing is, it’s not always easy to tell which (if any) trailer brakes are working just by pressing the pedal during a test drive.

Instead, you’ll want to look for a slide bar on your brake controller. It should go from 0 to 10 or will have an indicator light. Check your brake controller manual if you don’t find it right away.

Once you’ve located the slide bar, start pulling on it gradually as you drive forward slowly. You should feel stronger and stronger resistance as you move from 0 to 10. If you’re not feeling much or any braking as you approach 10, you know you’ve got a problem.

Because this testing method bypasses the truck pedals, you’ll get a more accurate sense of trailer brake function. You’ll know that any resistance is coming exclusively from the trailer itself, not the tow vehicle brakes.

If your trailer doesn’t pass your brake test, it’s likely due to one or more common problems:

  • Corrosion of the wiring or brake components. This sometimes occurs if a trailer sits parked for weeks or months at a time.
  • Poorly adjusted brakes.
  • Delaminated and/or grease-saturated brake shoes.
  • Missing components such as a slack adjuster.

As always, your trailer manual and a professional trailer inspector can help you diagnose issues and get your brakes running smoothly.

Got questions about how to test trailer brakes on your own trailer or other trailer safety concerns? Blue Ridge Trailers is always happy to offer our expertise. Contact us online or call us at (434) 985-4151 to speak to our staff.

The Truth About “Bargain” Horse Trailer Cameras

horse trailer camerasThinking of grabbing a bargain camera for inside your horse trailer?

You’ll quickly realize it’s not a bargain at all, but a big waste.

When they work, horse trailer cameras are wonderful for your peace of mind as a driver and a horse owner. They come with a monitor you can mount on your dashboard or windshield, so you can keep an eye on your horses while you’re on the road.

The problem is that cheap cameras just can’t stand up to the heavy vibrations inside a horse trailer. The components shake and deteriorate with every drive, and usually stop working within a month to three months.

Over the years, Blue Ridge Trailers has had so many clients show up with a busted camera, a sad look on their face, and the same request: “can you get me a decent camera?”

It’s gotten to the point where we’ll only install one type of horse trailer camera: Voyager trailer camera systems.

After two decades working with a wide range of camera brands and models, this is the only one that we’ve found consistently works for the long haul.

That’s not to say Voyager systems never require adjustments, but they don’t require frequent camera or monitor replacements.

Voyager systems can accommodate both small and large horse trailers. The smaller systems have a wireless monitor connection and the cameras themselves run off the trailer’s running lights.

For a trailer with more than three horses, you’ll want at least two cameras and the system comes with a wired monitor.

No matter what system you get, it’s important to have a professional install it in your trailer due to the level of electrical and technical knowledge involved.

Plus, having a reliable, long-lasting horse trailer camera isn’t just better for your wallet. As soon as you start driving with a real-time view of your horses, you’ll never want to go without it again!

 

Want to learn more about horse trailer cameras? Call us at (434) 985-4151 or view current inventory and prices online. We’re always happy to answer questions and help you make the right trailer accessory choice for your needs.

Get to Know the Virginia 4-H State Horse Show

virginia 4-h state horse showEver seen a young horse rider beaming with his or her first ever ribbon? Or excitedly talking shop with new friends at a competition?

There’s nothing like seeing the future generation of horse lovers learning and growing.virginia 4-h state horse show

And that’s exactly what the Virginia State 4-H Championship Horse and Pony show is all about. This event, which just celebrated its 56th year, provides an opportunity for Virginia’s young equestrians to meet, compete, develop horsemanship, and ultimately build confidence in themselves and the skills they’ve been practicing all year.

Blue Ridge Trailers is a proud sponsor of the Virginia 4-H Championship Horse Show. Our own sales rep Julie Williamson and her husband Bob—who have been involved with the event for more than 25 years—were even inducted into the Virginia 4-H Championship Horse Show Hall of Fame last weekend!

If you or a young person in your life are committed to equine sports, this is the horse show to know. Below, learn more about the Virginia 4-H state horse show and how you can get involved:

All About the 56th Virginia 4-H State Horse Show

How many people attended?

The Virginia 4-H state horse show drew more than 2,500 people to the Lexington area from Sept. 14 to 17. These included:

  • 130+ volunteers
  • 410 horse riders
  • 150 educational participants

What events did young competitors participate in?

Disciplines offered included dressage, western, hunters (over fences and pleasure), minis, gymkhana (speed events) and more. Graduating seniors also had an opportunity to strut their skills in a Senior Stampede.

There were also a number of educational competitions, including horse judging, hippology, a horse bowl quiz, art and more.

What are some unique events held during the show?

Young horse lovers got to learn in a fun environment during the two-day Cloverbud Camp.

There was also a Hidden Horseshoe Hunt—fun for both kids and adults!

How can newcomers get involved in the Virginia 4-H state horse show?

For details on the 4-H horse program, visit the Virginia Cooperative Extension online. You’ll find information on local and national events, equine sports resources, and more.

You’ll also find contact information for the program if you have specific questions about getting involved.

 

Want more equestrian news and horse care tips? Subscribe to the free Blue Ridge Trailers newsletter.

How to Prevent Shipping Fever in Horses

shipping fever in horsesEvery time you gear up for a long road trip with your horse, ask yourself: am I prepared to prevent shipping fever?

Shipping fever in horses is a dangerous infection that can strike after long hours on the road. Unfortunately, there is no simple trick to preventing it—so it’s important to be aware of the many conditions that can invite shipping fever into your horse trailer.

We know how scary it can be to realize your four-legged best friend is sick. Today, we’d like to help our community learn more about shipping fever in horses, how to recognize it, and what steps you can take to prevent it.

What is shipping fever?

Shipping fever (also known as pleuropnemonia) is an infection in the horse’s lungs and “pleural cavity,” a fluid-filled space near the lungs.

Common symptoms of shipping fever in horses include:

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Foul-smelling nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite

Keep an eye out for symptoms in the days following your journey, as they don’t always appear immediately.

What causes shipping fever in horses?

Shipping fever can strike if a horse isn’t able to clear bacteria out of its lungs regularly. This can become a problem inside a trailer because when a horse is tied, its head can be held in an unnatural position, making it difficult to cough out irritants.

Meanwhile, dust from the road and irritants inside the trailer will necessarily be kicked up and inhaled by your horse as you drive. The stress of travel can further create a conducive environment for shipping fever.

These issues are less serious during short rides. But over the course of a long-distance journey, they can add up.

How can you prevent shipping fever in your horses?

1. Tie your horse’s head properly

Restricting your horse’s movement by tying its head too tight can prevent it from clearing its lungs properly. The key is to make sure your horse has room to drop its head and cough out any dust that has accumulated.

For longer trips, one option is to trailer horses in a box stall trailer, because they can ride loose without their heads needing to be tied.

2. Make frequent stops during your trip

Take breaks so your horse can unload, drop its head, and eat and drink water. You might even consider breaking up your journey over the course of a couple of days.

Not only will this allow your horse to clear out its lungs, it will prevent dehydration.

This principle remains true even if you’re using a box stall.

3. Clean your trailer before your trip

You can help protect your horse’s lungs by removing irritants that are already lingering in your trailer. Wash out your trailer to clear out dust and old hay, dried manure, and other sources of bacteria.

4. Ensure proper ventilation in your trailer

Inadequate ventilation can make your trailer much more inviting to shipping fever. Make sure there’s a stream of fresh air so your horse can breathe easier and keep cool.

5. Don’t travel with a horse that’s already sick

Just like with humans, sick and fatigued horses are more susceptible to additional illnesses. Any horse with a compromised immune system is at a greater risk for shipping fever during travel.

Make sure your horse is healthy and strong before you drive, so it can stay that way.

 

Want more expert trailering insights? Subscribe to the Blue Ridge Trailers monthly newsletter.

So, What is a Weight Distribution Hitch? How They Work and When You Need One

what is a weight distribution hitch

Weight distribution hitch image: Russell’s Truck Accessories. Source: Facebook.

Ever been driving on the highway with a trailer and felt that whoosh when a semi passes by?

It can be pretty scary as the wind rushes past and your trailer starts to sway behind you. You might grip the steering wheel tight and wonder to yourself if it has to be this way.

The good news? It doesn’t.

With a tool called a weight distribution hitch, you can ensure smooth handling of a bumper pull trailer even with a near-capacity load in your trailer. It’s a straightforward and effective option that not many drivers are aware they can take advantage of.

Here at Blue Ridge Trailers, we’re committed to helping trailer owners stay safe and informed, so today we’re sharing some essentials on how weight distribution hitches work and who needs them.

First things first: what is a weight distribution hitch, anyway?

Weight distribution hitches sit under the tongue of a bumper pull trailer. Their purpose is to transfer the trailer tongue weight from the towing vehicle’s bumper to its axles and to the trailer’s axles.

In other words, weight distribution hitches prevent too much of your trailer’s weight from collecting at the tongue—which can lead to poor trailer handling or even loss of control if you need to break or turn quickly.

With a weight distribution hitch, your trailer weight will be balanced, making maneuvering much smoother and preventing dangerous situations.

This also means you can safely tow weight that’s close to your trailer’s maximum capacity.

Do you need a weight distribution hitch?

First consider your trailer. Weight distribution hitches are only necessary for bumper pull trailers, so if you’ve got a gooseneck, you don’t need one.

Next, consider your towing vehicle compared to the weight of your trailer and the type of load you’ll be pulling. If your towing capacity far exceeds your trailer weight, a distribution hitch would be overkill.

Otherwise, if you’ve got a bumper pull and your load is anywhere near the upper level capacity for your tow vehicle, a weight distribution hitch will help ensure a safe trip. In my experience, I’ve noticed improved handling with a weight distribution hitch even when towing about 3,800 pounds (a small trailer plus one horse) on a vehicle with a capacity of 9,500 pounds.

Should you install a weight distribution hitch yourself?

Apologies to the DIY fans out there, but unless you’re a professional, you should not install a weight distribution hitch yourself.

That’s because there’s a lot to know, and the stakes are high. Your weight distribution hitch needs to be leveled correctly with the brackets in the right spot, among other factors that require technical knowledge.

Without proper installation, the trailer won’t be balanced, defeating the purpose of the weight distribution hitch. Worst case scenario? The trailer isn’t attached properly and comes off while you’re driving.

An industry professional such as your trailer dealer can help you choose and install the right weight distribution hitch for your trailer and towing vehicle.

Want more expert trailering insights? Subscribe to the Blue Ridge Trailers monthly newsletter.