How to tow a horse trailer


Moving off

Every time you move off with a horse trailer, it is essential that you make full use of your mirrors and demonstrate awareness of other road users by pulling out into traffic at appropriate times.

During your test the examiner will ask you to move off safely and under control in the following situations:
  1. On level ground (straight start)
  2. From behind a parked vehicle (angled start)
  3. Uphill (hill start)
  4. Downhill (downhill start)

  • MSM – mirror, signal, manoeuvre – check all around your vehicle before moving.
  • Just before moving, look over your right shoulder into the road to check your blind spot – if your view is obstructed by the trailer, open window and stick your head out t see!
  • Every time you move off, follow the routine: Look over bonnet; check left mirror; check right mirror; look over right shoulder and finally check LEFT mirror (cyclists!)
  • THINK: cars; pedestrians; bikes; (horses!)…
  • Make balanced use of your accelerator, clutch and brakes for a smooth move-off.
  • Make sure you’re in the correct gear.
  • Don’t allow the vehicle to roll back.
  • When asked to pull up behind a parked vehicle, leave sufficient room to move off comfortably.
  • For downhill start, generally commence in second gear – apply footbrake before you release the handbrake and carefully balance the release of the clutch with the release of the footbrake.
Moving off with a horse trailer

Braking when towing a horse trailer

When towing a horse trailer you should aim to leave at least double the braking distance you would normally when driving a car. Not only do you have to account for the extra weight of the trailer and its load adding to your braking distance, but you want to give your horses the smoothest ride possible.
However, it’s essential that in emergencies you are able to stop quickly and safely, so during the B+E test you’ll be required to undertake a ‘controlled stop’. This exercise will be undertaken from a minimum speed of 20mph over a measured distance – as illustrated by the diagram below, the point where you need to start braking will be marked by cones. You must then demonstrate your ability to bring the trailer to a complete stop by the designated point quickly but under complete control.

horse trailer breaking exceriseTowing test braking excerise tips:

  • Aim to bring vehicle and trailer to a halt in a straight line;
  • You must be driving in the correct gear for your speed before attempting the stop;
  • DO NOT start braking or slow down before you reach the cones;
  • The aim is to come to a controlled stop without jack knifing the trailer or skidding.

Speed limits while driving a horse trailer

During the test, you need to ensure you remain within the legal towing speed limits – however, it’s important to demonstrate that you are confident driving at a realistic speed that is appropriate to the road and traffic conditions:

Towing speed limits:

30mph                        Urban areas
50mph                        Rural single carriageways
60mph                        Dual-carriageways & motorways


  • Allow at least 2 x the normal braking distance between yourself and other vehicles.
  • Consider other road users – leave a sufficient gap for other cars to pull into should they wish to overtake.
  • Approach hazards at a safe, controlled speed.
  • Don’ t be over-cautious and don’t interfere with the progress of other traffic.
  • Try to stay within around 1 or 2 mph of the speed limit, where safe to do so – i.e. in a 60mph limit, drive at around 58mph; in a 30 zone, drive at 28pmh so as not to slow the flow of traffic.

Horse trailer lane positions

During the test, you will be required to demonstrate awareness of the correct lane positions while towing a trailer at all times, including when negotiating right and left turns out of junctions and at roundabouts…



Remember to take roundabouts very steadily – horses have problems coping with the directional changes involved. Position yourself sensibly, taking the correct lane for the direction you wish to travel and indicating clearly. Where possible, follow your line around the roundabout and never cut across other lanes, even if unmarked.

horse trailer lane positioning round a roundabout


Approach junctions at a speed that will enable you to turn safely and stop if necessary. The examiner will test your ability to make a decision that it’s safe to proceed before doing so, and that you have effectively judged he length, width and weight of your vehicle to allow sufficient time in the flow of traffic before making the manoeuvre.
REMEMBER: Signal well in advance to give other road users due warning of your intention to turn.

lane positioning at junctions when driving a horse trailer

Motorways & dual carriageways

Towing vehicles may not use the right-hand lane of the motorway, but may use this lane of a three-lane dual carriageway, if necessary. Be extra-vigilant in your use of mirrors and be aware that, as lorries pass, their wind-stream may ‘tug’ your trailer; be careful not to over-correct but simply hold it steady.
If you need to change lanes or overtake, signal in plenty of time and double-check your blind spot, accounting for the extra length of your trailer and the relative speed of other vehicles.
REMEMBER: Trailers can be affected by side-winds, so be extra careful when emerging from or crossing bridges or cuttings and keep an eye out for signs of high wind such as moving trees or blowing debris.

How to tow a horse trailer video

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Last updated: 18/06/2010

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