First time driving 2h BP trailer and stressing - talk me down - UPDATE! I made it :)
It doesn't help that in the midst of finding out my trailer is all done (2 horse Adam stock/slant combo), we are listing our home for sale THIS WEEK and I already cannot sleep well because of that, LOL.
Anyway, the trailer is in. I'm picking it up this weekend. The dealer is a super guy who will take me out to practice driving it, help me get brakes adjusted, show me hook up, etc. He will also put the ball/equip. on my GMC truck. My truck already has the integrated brake controller, wiring, etc - tow package - it's ready to go. (2009). I will then drive it alone about an hour and 15 minutes to our barn and will have to back it into a "parallel" spot in front of BO's trailer and then unhooking my truck..... I consider myself a good, safe driver. How hard will this be???
I am probably stressing for nothing but I do this and wish I could just relax about it. I will of course write down everything he shows me and perhaps even take pics or video of him hooking it up - I wish I had postponed getting it until April once we got in the groove of showing our home (with 3 big dogs and 2 young kids....yes, we'll all be driving around in my pickup truck during showings, LOL!!) It's just another thing for me to take care of right now....I am excited it's here but someone please talk some sense into me that this is NO big deal - especially hauling empty right now...next time I take it out will be with my instructor for "trailer" lessons. And on a good note, my gelding has always been great trailering - not a hiccup, so I am not stressing about that
Just do everything slowly and you'll be fine. Pulling a BP forward is very easy, backing it can be difficult until you get used to it but make small adjustments slowly and you should be just fine. I think the main problem most people have is over-correcting.
Practice backing into all sorts of spots before you haul loaded and remember that the trailer is going to pull a little differently loaded. Once you're comfortable pulling empty it may not be a bad idea to have company the first time you pull the trailer with a horse in it.
A lovely horse is always an experience.... It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. ~Beryl Markham
Your post made me laugh! I remember when I got my first trailer, and how worried I was about parking it. Pulling it was easy, except I kept getting startled when I'd see it in the rear view mirror.
My advice is to park your trailer at a time when you don't have an audience! I arrived at my barn and several people came out to watch, and I still remember how that didn't help the process at all.
Someone finally gave me the hint to keep my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel, and move them in the direction I want my trailer to go. Make little corrections, not big ones, and you'll avoid the big zig-zag back-up.
Good luck. Enjoy the freedom that having your own trailer will bring!
I concur with the "go slow" and the hand on the bottom of the steering wheel advice. I luckily got to learn how to back a trailer using a farm tractor and manure trailer, and had all day to figure out that if I turn the wheel just a bit, once the trailer starts to turn, straighten the wheel. The smaller the trailer, the easier it is to jack knife it, so just go really easy until you get the hang of it. I also agree that it will feel very different loaded, it'll pull much smoother.
Congrats on your new trailer, you'll do fine!
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
You can do it The backing will take some practice but don't rush or you'll get frustrated. When I was first learning to drive a trailer, my BO told me to drive it as if I had a 55 gallon drum in the trailer that was filled to the brim with water - any sudden starts/stops or turns taken too quickly would slosh the water out. Surprisingly, if you really imagine this, it really works!
Later when you get a chance, hook your empty trailer up and drive it with you everywhere. Go to the bank, the grocery store, pick the kids up from school, whatever! The more you drive it the more comfortable you'll feel with having it back there and knowing how it behaves. That is the biggest battle. Adding your horse will only add slightly more of the slow-and-steady factor. Good luck!
"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower
And there is no harm in getting to the barn, hopping out, and asking someone else to back it in that spot and park it, and help you unhook it. Don't overwhelm yourself with worry
That's exactly what I did. Did a PPE on it before I bought it and had the trailer service company back it in for me.
One other thing. Always double check all of your connections, doors, latches, brakes, lights, etc. yourself, every time. Never trust anyone else. Always double check. This, not from my experience, but experience of an acquaintance. She trusted that person with her had correctly latched the back of the trailer, loose tied the horse and he fell out on the Lexington "beltway". He survived, but was pretty badly injured.
Go slow- and if you need to ask for help parking it. No shame with that- I remember the first time I had to back my 2 horse into the driveway alone- I was absolutely elated when I realized that I had done it!
FWIW- I always have to hitch up alone- I find that if someone is trying to help me I stress and it takes 3x as long. I make sure that when I hitch and unhitch I do it the same way every time- coupler on ball, latch, pin, right safety chain, left safety chain, electric hook up, then check everything once over. Always do a complete walk around to check that latches are closed. By doing it the same way every time it has become habit and in an emergency I can do it without thinking.
PS I hate backing a BP. They are so quick and reactive. I can back my GN anywhere you want, including around trees and uphill at the same time. If you'd seen my place, you know I'm tellin' the truth So all the more reason to just deal with it backing it later, when you have time to play with it. And yes, take it to an empty parking lot and practice. Just don't hit a lightpole LOL.
I second the notion to create a habit of checking yourself. I do not like help hitching the trailer, I do things in a pattern and others helping me messes me up. I'm also in the habit of driving the 1 mile to the end of my road, and hopping out and making a walk around check. All latches, all tires, all connections.
The best tip I ever got about backing a trailer is to steer towards the mirror with the most trailer showing in it. Pulling is easy as can be. Backing is tougher but doable if you take it slow. Don't be afraid to pull up and start all over again. Oftentimes that is easier than to try to fix what you have.
Usually, once a new trailer driver actually takes the wheel, the first reaction is "Oh wow. This doesn't feel weird or different to drive at all."
If you are really nervous, have someone park it the first time. A tip I have for new drivers (and long term ones) is to be able to back up using just your mirrors. Practice that in your truck without a trailer first. Then, when you are hitched, put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, watch your mirrors, and whatever direction you want the back of your trailer to go, move your hand in that direction (like neck reining)
Just relax, enjoy your new trailer and know that EVERYONE had a first time that they drove one, and that no one was born knowing how to do it like an expert.
OK. Reread every post on this thread three times. They are all great.
I went through this too. Most of us do. You'll be fine!!!
I love the parking practice idea, the get-someone-else-to-park-it idea, and the don't-park-with-an-audience idea.
When you back it, you can overcorrect VERY easily. Remember that it goes opposite the truck -- so you can put your hand on the bottom and turn the way you want the trailer to go.
But do it in small steps!! Get as straight as you can in front of the spot before backing in -- backing in while turning is an advanced skill.
When you are driving it home, think about having a horse back there. The biggest mistake people make is driving too "roughly" and without really planning ahead when possible. Every stoplight is really a 2 zone proposition --
Zone 1: I am slowing down a bit, in case I have to stop. This zone is pretty far out from the light.
Zone 2, very close to the light: if the light changes now, too late. I am going through.
That will OBVIOUSLY depend on the light/intersection, and I'm not telling you to run lights. I'm saying that you CANNOT change your mind at the last second when a light goes and stomp on the brakes. You either won't stop in time, or will send your horse flying.
So start with it empty (when you can stop a lot faster and there is no horrible crashing noise from behind you when you screw up), and make every light a planning exercise, even if it stays green -- when would I have to commit.
Try, when you do stop, to do it so gently that there is just a whisper of momentum when you finally get to the stop.
Turning -- do NOT accelerate until you are straight from a turn -- this is not a trailering rule, but a horse-friendly rule. They will scramble if you accelerate too soon.
So practice all that empty.
You will learn!!!
I would DEFINITELY write down EVERY step in the hitching/unhitching process. It will become complete second nature to you as you do it, and learn what each step really "does" -- but for now, you don't want to worry that you have forgotten something.
Congrats -- you will soon wonder HOW you lived without one!
All very good information. Probably the one I like the best is the practice driving your trailer without the horse...at least then you may make less consequential mistakes on inanimate objects. One area of driving skill that no one has mentioned(probably because tollbooths are only a Northeastern curse) is not getting too close to the tollbooth attendant...stay in the center of the tollbooth lane. You don't want to get over so close that your driver side trailer wheels go over any curbing! One last note: Ez Passes don't seem to be able to tell if you have a trailer so don't miss out on that savings...while it lasts.
Best advice I've seen: always walk around your trailer and check everything before hopping in and driving. Do this everytime before you drive..even if you stop for 1 minute at a rest stop.
For those of you with BP's, most pick up trucks have wheel changing equipment that fits your horse trailer..something to keep in mind.
Take some photos on your cell phone or digital camera so you remember which way the hooks (chains) connected to your truck, how much slack was enough without being too much, and anything else you want to remember without stressing about it. You could even take a series of photos in the sequence of hooking of the trailer. If you don't haul a lot the photos can help you remember from one time to the next.
Ditto on the steering advice already given. Hands on the bottom of the wheel, moving your hands to the right if you want the trailer to move right, etc. makes it all so much simpler.
As suggested, definitely find a big parking lot and play until you're comfy with it both moving forward and in reverse. Remember - steady in steering, steady in braking, and steady in accelerating.
Make sure you have a Jiffy Jack and a lug wrench - I learned that the hard way once and haven't needed them since I bought them the day after the tire went flat.
Wise and eternal words of wisdom from my friend Terry when I ventured out for the first time with my brand new trailer: "The trailer will go where the truck goes. Just make sure the attachment is good."
Toodle around in a big parking lot on a Sunday morning, the learning curve is short and you will be fine.
Thanks everyone! Well I picked up my trailer today. I learned quickly how to hook/unhook it. The dealer had me do it several times before we took it out for a test drive. I had no issues driving it - it was fairly easy, towed like a dream and I stayed in the right lane on the highway It was raining and very wet and yucky but I did fine.
Parking is another story, LOL! I had a HARD time parking it when I arrived at the barn. I can't get it to maneuver "smoothly" and I still don't get which direction to turn the wheel to get it where I want....I had to parallel park it in our barn's driveway in front of another trailer. I got it in but eek, it wasn't easy - it was muddy and my wheels went a bit in the BO's grass which I felt bad about...tore up a small area but they were very understanding. My trainer will be giving me a trailer lesson this week. We will practice parking and hauling it empty for a bit.
Unhooking it was easy too. I was thrilled to see it for the first time! Thanks everyone - I can hardly believe I have a trailer!! Gave hubby a HUGE hug when I got home!!!