Where do I have to go, and what is the best route to drive - with a float on?
Do I have to cross major roads at difficult intersections? Are there low bridges to go
under (you need to know how high your float is, before you set off - carry the dimensions
in your glove compartment, in case you forget.)
Will it be necessary to break the journey? If so, where? Is there somewhere safe for
the horse to stay?
If travelling to a competition, will anyone else be taking the same route to the event?
Can we travel in convoy?
What facilities are at the other end?
If travelling to an event in a distant city, do I know where the competition is being
held? Have I got maps of the city in case I get lost?
Is there someone that I know (even a long lost acquaintance) that could be called in
case of emergency?
A hurried float trip will cause you stress and will put your horse at risk, both
physically and mentally, as he requires that you drive slowly and carefully,
taking the corners very slowly so as not to upset his balance and
confidence. Most horses usually travel quite well and bad travellers are often
made by bad drivers!
There are a number of safety checks that you should make before each floating trip -
even for a short distance - as, if things go wrong you could be in serious trouble. It is
much better to take the time to be safe than sorry !!
Make sure that you regularly check the safety features of your float and vehicle.
Coupling (hitch) - ensure that the coupling socket and ball are securely fastened. Make
sure that the socket and ball are matched in size, even though the sizes should be stamped
on each, it is possible to make an error, and the size difference appear minimal. If the
ball is too small for the coupling it will sooner or later jump off its attachment. A
periodical safety check by your Hayman Reese
dealer will ensure that
you are safe to travel.
Safety chains - make sure that they are properly secured and fastened. Check that the
safety chains are properly connected. If two chains are fitted cross them to provide
better directional control of the float. Although it is customary to cross the chains under
the drawbar before they attach to the vehicle,
Hayman Reese advise that it is
preferable to cross the chains over the drawbar, to prevent the front of the
drawbar from hitting the road, should the coupling become disconnected. If possible
check with the manufacturers recommendations or ask your nearest Hayman Reese outlet.
Tow bar and ball - locking pin securely in place, ball secure with nut and spring
washer done up tightly. Make sure that there is at least a thin smearing of grease on the
ball - although messy, this is necessary to ensure that the ball is free within the
coupling socket. If the grease is a problem for passing clothing (legs of white joddies !)
adopt the traditional solution of a cut down tennis ball (and fancy little plastic
horses heads are available also) to place over the greasy towball when it is not in
Brakes and wheel bearings - make sure that these are not overheating. Check that all
wheel nuts are done up tightly (after a tyre is replaced or mended check that the
serviceman has tightened the bolts).
Lights - make sure that all of the indicator and brake lights are working properly.
Also ensure that the headlights of your vehicle are operating and properly aligned so that
the weight of the float does not create the same effect as having your lights on high beam
(even when they are dipped). If you do find lots of drivers flashing their headlights at
you when you are towing, either lighten the to bar load by adjusting the load distribution
in the float, or have your service centre adjust your vehicles headlights down.
Tyres - always remember to check your tyres - vehicle and float - when they are cold -
that is, before you have done any driving on them. Buy a properly calibrated tyre gauge,
because the devices on air hoses at service stations get harsh treatment and can be wrong.
At the first stop, say a petrol station, feel the tyres and wheels to check how hot
they are. Normal conditions should have the float tyres and wheels being slightly warm to
the touch. If any of the wheels or tyres are hot to the touch (and you did not have to use
the brakes excessively to stop) you have a problem with your brakes or else the tyre is
flat (which you would be sure to notice!). Either way you must get help before you
continue your journey.
When you have been travelling for about 100 kilometers, putt over and use the tyre
gauge to check the floats tyres. They should be 28 kPa or 4 psi higher than when
Every now and then, take a look at the tread wear pattern. It will tell you if you have
been running the tyres wrongly inflated over a period of time. Excess wear in the middle
of the tread means over-inflation, and excess wear on the outsides of the tread means
under-inflation. Both are dangerous and should be corrected.
Check the door latches and the load (feed, saddlery, manure scoops and other luggage)
for anything which may have moved and could cause problems.
You should do these checks every two to three hours as a precautionary measure and to
Be sure to have your vehicles service history up to date and make sure that you
check the oil, water, brake fluid, transmission fluid and battery water levels before you
set out and at regular intervals on the journey. Older or less reliable vehicles will need
more frequent checks.
Automatic vehicles require special attention and servicing when they are used to tow
heavy loads such as horse floats. The automatic transmission may overheat, as most
vehicles are not manufactured with the additional coolers needed to handle sustained
towing loads. It is a good idea to fit an additional transmission oil cooler for your
vehicle, or to substitute a bigger or better cooler than your vehicle already has.
Your JEEP dealer can advise on the towing capacity of towing vehicles and their
Check the float brake and light connections are secure and that all lights work. If the
connecting electrical cable is too short, it will break when you attempt a tight turn.
This can quite easily happen if you jack-knife when reversing. Do not ever
remove the plug from the socket by simply yanking on the cable> Eventually you will
damage the connection between the plug and the cable, pulling wires loose and causing
lights or brakes to fail.
Check the adjustments of electric or vacuum operated brakes which are fitted to your
float. Poorly adjusted brakes will either not work effectively or they will grab
causing problems for your horse. If the control box is in the cabin, be careful that
passengers do not inadvertently alter the brake settings. Make yourself familiar with the
settings and where they should be as most of these control units are very sensitive.
Check the adjustment of mirrors before you set out. It is easy to overlook this until
you are under way. Then, right when you need them, you have to fiddle around,
taking your eyes off the road, to get the adjustment right.
If your float has over-ride brakes, always ensure that the reversing catch fitted to
the float coupling has been disconnected. It is easy to overlook, especially if some
fancy reversing is required to get going in the first place.
If you have an electric breakaway system fitted (this is a legal
requirement when towing weight over 2000 kgs) check that the battery has water and is
fully charged, and that the breakaway cable is in proper working order.
Hayman Reese can
advise on the fitting and maintenance of a breakaway system.
Make a few test stops from a low speed to confirm that the float brakes are operating
and correctly adjusted.
Try to limit the weight of the load carried in the boot of the car (or luggage space) -
this is not easy if you and your horse are going away for any length of time - but
thoughtful packing will help considerably. If there is too much weight on the rear of the
vehicle, you may find that road handling is badly affected.
A Mobile phone (charged and with a spare battery or the car charger)
A list of the important telephone numbers that you could need.
Emergency Roadside Breakdown Membership Card (check validity)
First aid kit (one for people and one for horses, including a thermometer)
A knife for cutting lead rope (if the worst happens!)
A flash light (with adequate life in the batteries)
Fire extinguisher make sure that it is in working order)
Warning triangle and four witches hats.
Jack and wheel brace (should be part of your vehicles gear)
Spare tyre for car and float (recently checked for correct pressure)
Tool kit (screwdriver, regular and Phillips Head and adjustable spanner)
Leather or rubber gloves and a box of tissues or canister of wet ones
for clean up