heading5.gif (24204 bytes)
heading6.gif (1636 bytes) THE JOURNEY
Plan the trip well before, and allow plenty of time for the journey. When towing a float you cannot make the trip in the same time as you would, without a horse and float behind your vehicle. By planning and accurately assessing the time needed to comfortably arrive at your destination, you will greatly reduceyour own stress and by so doing, give your horse a chance to work at peak performance. Long journeys can increase the risk of travel sickness in horses, be sure that you read the chapter on Travel Sickness so that you understand the precautions and early warning signs. The time for the journey make need to take into account a stop for your horse to stretch his legs, have a drink etc, omitting this stop would be sure to compromise your objectives.


You need to ask yourself:

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 horse’s heads are available also) to place over the greasy towball when it is not in use.

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 vehicle’s 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 float’s tyres. They should be 28 kPa or 4 psi higher than when cold.

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 avoid problems.

Be sure to have your vehicle’s 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 automatic transmissions.

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 vehicle’s gear)

Spare tyre for car and float (recently checked for correct pressure)

Tool kit (screwdriver, regular and Phillips Head and adjustable spanner)

Spare towball

Leather or rubber gloves and a box of tissues or canister of ‘wet ones’ for clean up

Jeep, Hayman Reese & JR Easy Traveller
- the perfect towing combination.

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