How to hitching up your horse trailer


During your towing test

During the test, you will be required to unhitch and re-hitch your vehicle safely. You will need demonstrate correct use of both the brakes on the towing vehicle and horse trailer, use the jockey wheel correctly and ensure that all cables are released and re-attached safely and securely before setting off.  

Being methodical each time you hitch up and un-hitch and following the routine below will help ensure you remember all of the steps in the correct order.

Hitching Up:

  1. Inspect the trailer thoroughly and check that the handbrake is on.
  2. Pull the car forward so that you have a clear, straight line to reverse up to the horse trailer.*
  3. Reverse, steadily, until you are close enough to the coupling to hitch up without having to move the trailer. (While reversing, remember to have all-round awareness of what’s going on and not get too focused on the task in hand).
  4. Attach the breakaway cable – either to the special towbar rings or looped around the bar.
  5. Wind the jockey wheel to lower the hitch over the towball (if you have a locking hitch you’ll need to hold the handle up then release it when in place over the towball to ‘latch on’ – others will latch automatically.
  6. Wind the jockey wheel downwards to apply upward pressure on the coupling – this will confirm that the hitch is coupled properly.
  7. Fully raise the jockey wheel and securely stow it.
  8. Plug in the electrics, ensuring that cables have sufficient slack to corner but that they don’t touch the ground.
  9. Release the trailer handbrake.
  10. Ask the examiner to check your lights are working.
TOP TIP: If you have trouble lining up the towbar and coupling when reversing to hitch, mark the centre of your towing vehicle’s rear window with tape to indicate towbar position. Tape may also be applied at a visible height to the centre of the front trailer above the coupling head, enabling you to ‘line up’.

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Hitching up video


  1. Park vehicle and horse trailer in a straight line, apply car handbrake and turn off engine.
  2. Apply the horse trailer handbrake.
  3. Unplug the electric connection and stow cable tidily.
  4. Slide jockey wheel down, tighten clamp and wind handle to raise the trailer up.
  5. Holding the hitch’s locking handle up continue winding the jockey wheel until the hitch is clear of the towball.
  6. Disconnect breakaway cable and stow tidily.
  7. When unhitched, push the trailer to check the handbrake is working.
  8. Move the vehicle away from the trailer (in the test, park alongside the trailer ready for the re-coupling exercise).

PLEASE NOTE: When storing your trailer consider using wheel chocks to secure the trailer instead of the handbreak, as if the handbrake is left on for a long period of time the brake shoes may stick to the drums.

Last updated: 18/06/2010

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