(first appeared in The Equiery‘s July 2012 issue)
Staycations (vacations in which one “stays home”) are still the thing to do, despite the recovering economy and the great exotic travel deals out there. However, before they were in vogue, equestrians have long dedicated their summer vacation time to their horses.
Trail riding remains the most popular equine activity in Maryland† – everyone does it! Some people only trail ride, but virtually all horse people at least once over the course of the year will ride a horse on a trail.
For those who really like to explore the great outdoors on board their favorite mount, with over 2,000 miles of public trails in Maryland*, it is possible for Maryland horse folk to stay in the state and yet travel far and wide. When the heat and humidity so typical of July and August start to smother, central Marylanders can easily head east or west. When temps top close to 100o in Central Maryland, Worcester County on the Eastern Shore averages a balmy 82o, while Garrett County in Western Maryland stays deliciously cool in the mid-to-high 70o (with the mountainous Deep Creek an average of 12o cooler than Ocean City).
Fuel prices are dropping! As of press time, gas is the lowest it has been in 6 months, with some economists predicting that it will drop to below $3 per gallon by late fall. More naffordable fuel makes traveling with one’s horse even more appealing.
However, don’t squander the savings at the pump by running on underinflated tires, as that decreases your gas mileage. Traveled Lane Trailers’ Jon Morelock explained that even new tires can lose air, and that trailer tires for a loaded trailer have different PSIs than tires for cars or trucks. Drivers should pay particular attention to sidewalls and treads. Hugh Collins (H.R. Collins & Company) gave the down-to-earth advice to “give ‘em a good kick!” Jon also urges trailer owners to replace their tires every five to six years, even if they don’t use their trailer very often and the tires look good. Anita Huff (Lisbon Performance) concurs, noting that dry rot can be a problem.
None of our trailer advertisers could understand why more horse people do not get their trailers checked annually, noting that emergency brake batteries need to be checked, bearings properly packed or repacked, floor boards ensured to be sound, bolts are tight, fuses are in good order, etc.
But Jon Morelock thinks trailer owners should go beyond just getting an annual safety check: “Learn your fuses on your tow vehicle. Find your fuses so that you can check and change a light circuit that does not work. Have spares on hand. On many vehicles, trailer fuses will be in a box under the hood. Check and make sure socket pieces are fully connected and making good contact.”
Safety of Horses vs Saving Money
Everyone wants to be eco-friendly and pocketbook friendly, right? So the common wisdom says to buy the lightest weight trailer possible, which means one can use a smaller tow vehicle with a better MPG. Not so fast! According to Linda Collins, Shetron Manufacturing, LLC:
“When purchasing an aluminum trailer, don’t shop for the trailer that is the lightest weight. Less weight means less structure and less quality of materials used to manufacture the trailer.”
Which, of course, means you need more tow vehicle. Do not skimp when it comes to purchasing your tow vehicle. Buy more engine and more torque than you need, and your vehicle will tow better and last longer – and your horses will be safer.
“When you are connecting the trailer, focus on connecting the trailer – don’t multi-task!”
– Jon Morelock, Traveled Lane Trailers
“Once loaded, walk around the trailer and make sure the doors are closed and the lights and turn signals work.”
– Hugh Collins, H. R. Collins & Co.
“Travel with your lights on!”
– Lauri Black, Bartley Trailers