I passed my trailer test in 2010, which lead to a whole new world of opportunity of where I could travel and the things I could do with my horse. No longer was my poor other half expected to drive me to lessons at night or his biggest bugbear which was BSJA and the waiting that inevitably came with it. What nobody told me was that trailer tyres will burst particularly on the motorway and that when it happens it completely freaks you out.
Having been through this twice last year with one particularly special moment when I had just got to the other side of the Severn Bridge while on my way back from a particularly rubbish day at Monmouth BE, that I would just raise awareness about this issue and how to cope if the worst happens.
The first time it happened I was by myself and luckily I kept calm and pulled over to the hard shoulder. With complete luck I was literally 200m from our fields which are by the motorway. I had no tools, no roadside assistance for the trailer and so I dread to think what would have happened if this bit of sheer luck had not happened. A friend was able to drive their tractor down to the fields, jump over the fence with a jack and all the tools for the getting the old tyre off and the new one on. From this I learnt that I should always pack tools and something to jack the trailer up with.
This brings me to the Severn Bridge incident. I had my tool box, I had blocks of wood to jack the trailer up with but the issue I came across is I could not get the tyre bolts undone. A quick phone call to my father taught me which lever to use and to stand on it to undo the bolts. The new tyre went on and I managed to tighten it and set off again taking it steady until I was able to stop at a service station to check the tyre pressure and that everything was done up tightly.
So things I have learnt since this happened:
1) Get car and trailer breakdown cover because if something worse than a tyre happens, you are really vulnerable on the motorway.
2) Trailer tyres very rarely wear down through use but they will degrade. If your trailer tyres are older than five years they should be replaced.
3) Have a tool kit, it really does save your sanity.
4) Carry hi vis and a torch. One of my blow outs happened at night and it was on the motorway side. Cars do not slow down, they do not go wider and you are very vulnerable. I just carry my riding high viz if I know I am going to be out at night with the horse and trailer.
5) If the crap really hits the fan and you have no jack, you can use the old tyre to jack the trailer up if you can get it off the trailer. This was taught by an agricultural friend. Reverse the trailer onto the tyre and it will jack it up enough to get the new one on. This is a real emergency, have no other option choice and only works with a double axel trailer.
6) Get your trailer checked over regularly and make sure you know what pressure your tyres should be.
Before this happened to me I never used to think about it. Now I am always prepared and it only takes 5 minutes to pack that extra bit of kit.