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The Ultimate Packing & Horse Trailering Checklist (230 pt.)

Written by Horse Rookie

Haul like a pro with our quick-print packing and horse trailering safety checklist

Packing your car for family vacation is child’s play compared to hauling your horse to a trailhead, show, or even around the block.

Not only do you need to remember rider essentials (“Where are my muck boots?”), horses require their own equipment, and your trailer must be fully stocked with critical safety supplies and comforts of home.

That’s all before your gas tank warning light illuminates as you pull out of the driveway. And the list goes on…

Regardless, hauling horses and peace of mind aren’t mutually exclusive. With diligent planning, trailering your horses offsite can be stress-free, safe, and (gasp!) fun. How? Checklists!

Make Your List & Check It Twice

It sounds simple–make a list.

The problem is, a checklist sounds so simple that many equestrians think they can get by without one.

When it comes to safely hauling your horse and being sure you’re both comfortable away from home, you can’t be too careful.


Click to download our free trailering checklist

From pilots to nurses, highly-trained professionals who can’t afford to make mistakes rely on checklists–even for tasks they’ve done hundreds, or thousands, of times before.

(Learn why checklists protect against “avoidable failures” in The Checklist Manifesto.)

We’ve taken the guesswork out of packing your trailer and performing your hauling safety check so you can hit the road with peace of mind.*

*Except for worrying about forgetting your dressage test or reining pattern. Those are up to you!

3 Quick Tips Before We Begin

Record & Rewatch

I created a video on my phone that shows how to hitch up my truck and horse trailer step-by-step. (It’s saved in my Favorites folder for easy access.)

Not only is it a great refresher for me after winter, when I don’t haul much, the video would allow someone else to prepare my rig if I couldn’t do it myself.

Work Ahead

Avoid arriving at the barn the morning of your trip, bleary-eyed and hardly bushy-tailed, and having to pack your horse, truck, and trailer at the last minute. Rushing leads to mistakes!

Packing lists can be handled almost entirely beforehand, so block time in your schedule a day or two prior to get everything prepped.

That way, you can show up the morning of your departure to load your horse, do your safety check, and get on the road stress-free and ahead of schedule.

Do a Practice Run

If you (or your horse) are new to hauling, grab a friend and do a few practice runs. Work through your packing list and pre-trip trailering checklist, then load up your horse for a drive around town.

The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel about your process and ability to haul on your own. Plus, your horse will become familiar with your routine and settle in faster in the future.

(I enlisted my father for a trial run and my first few trips so I’d have a “co-pilot” to help with my checklists and to navigate so I could focus on driving.)

Horse Trailer Weights

The Ultimate Packing & Horse Trailering Checklist

Want to download and print the packing and horse trailering checklist? Scroll down to the Free Resources section.

Tow Vehicle // Packing List

  • Flashlight (with spare batteries)
  • Tire gauge
  • Emergency blankets
  • Jumper cables
  • Lug wrench
  • Flares and/or warning triangles
  • Quick fix tire repair spray
  • Extra engine oil and funnel
  • Spare fuses
  • Tool kit including a wire cutter
  • Road atlas
  • Tie-down cables
  • Extra cash and credit card
  • Checkbook
  • Purse or wallet
  • Water and snacks in cooler with ice
  • Chapstick
  • Tow chain
  • Kleenex
  • Wet wipes
  • Satellite phone (I never haul without my DeLorme InReach satellite phone. If I’m hauling somewhere with spotty cell service, trail riding, or simply want to be sure help can be reached anywhere, I want that peace of mind. Period.)
  • Knife
  • First aid kit including aspirin
  • Work gloves
  • Emergency instructions stored in plain sight (in case you’re in an accident and incapacitated, rescue workers will know who to call and/or how to care for your animals)
  • Important paperwork (depending on your state and destination)
    • Registration for truck and trailer
    • Proof of insurance for truck and trailer
    • Written list of important phone numbers (e.g. vet, trainer, vet/barn at destination)
    • Printed map of your route
    • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate)
    • Proof of negative Coggins (Equine Infectious Anemia)
    • Brand inspection
    • Horse registration
    • Copy of show test or pattern
    • Copy of show class list and schedule
    • Show rule book
    • Membership cards (e.g. AQHA)
    • Equestrian Insurance Card (Note: Most regular auto policies will not cover your trailer or horse care if you break down on the road. I bought a USRider Equestrian Motor Policy to ensure my horse and trailer are covered.)
    • Horse insurance paperwork (e.g. liability, medical)
    • Map of destination trail system
    • List of trailer parking friendly gas stations, hotels, or rest stops along your route
    • Horse care routine (Here’s an example of mine.)

Daily Care Checklist (AM)

  • Check water
  • Ulcerguard (1 dose)
  • Smartpak + 1 ½ lb grain + electrolytes
  • 2 flakes hay

Daily Care Checklist (PM)

  • Check water
  • 2 flakes hay

Note: Don’t have a tow vehicle and/or trailer yet? Check out this article about how to put together your rig based on horse trailer weights.

Tow Vehicle // Pre-Trip Checklist

  • Double-check packing list above
  • Maintenance up to date
  • Tires in good condition / check tire pressure
  • Spare tire in good condition / check tire pressure
  • Brakes in good condition
  • Fluids in good condition
  • Headlights and brake lights
  • Fill gas tank
  • Check oil
  • Test brake controller
  • Turn on haul button (if your truck has one)
  • Set / release parking brake
  • Lock / unlock doors

Horse Trailer // Packing List

  • Spare tire / jack
  • Wheel chocks
  • Safety ties (learn how to use them here)
  • Flashlight (with spare batteries)
  • WD-40
  • Rope
  • Knife
  • Water / tank (5-20 gallons)
  • Hose
  • Electrical tape / duct tape
  • Spare light bulbs
  • Muck bucket
  • Pitchfork / shovel / broom
  • Bleacher seat / chairs
  • Fire extinguisher (check pressure)
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet Paper
  • Extension cord
  • Scissors
  • Shovel (winter)
  • Sand (winter)
  • Candle and matches or lighter (winter)
  • Tire chains (winter)
  • Purchase / set aside bag of shavings

Note: Don’t have a tow vehicle and/or trailer yet? Check out this article about how to put together your rig based on horse trailer weights.

Horse Trailer // Pre-Trip Checklist

  • Double-check packing list above
  • Secure anything stored inside horse compartment
  • Check brakes
  • Check lights
  • Trailer hitch check (inc. chains)
  • Dirt swept out
  • Mats clean
  • No rattling / loose parts
  • Tires in good condition / check tire pressure and lug nuts
  • Spare tire in good condition / check tire pressure
  • No sharp edges or wires
  • Check for bees or wasps
  • Check the partitions and all locks and bolts
  • Fill / empty water tank
  • Add shavings
  • Hay nets are securely fastened
  • Butt chains or bars are fastened
  • All doors, windows, and gates are securely latched
  • Open / close windows
  • Open / close ceiling vents
  • Lock / unlock doors
  • Back truck until ball / hitch align
  • Lower / raise hitch onto ball with crank
  • Crank up / down trailer foot
  • Lock down / up hitch ball / insert pin
  • Attach / remove chains to each side of truck hitch
  • Plug in / remove electric
  • Affix emergency brake cord
  • Tidy up cords/chains so they don’t drag
  • Add / remove wheel chocks
  • Check under the trailer for objects and animals
  • Trailer weight within limits

Horse // Packing List

  • Halter x 2 (one breakaway)
  • Lead rope x 2
  • Crop / whip
  • Sheet, blanket, cooler, fly sheet (see our 14 favorites), and/or mask
  • Leg wraps
  • Shipping boots
  • Hay (bring extra)
  • Hay bag (slow feed net and bale storage)
  • Leather Punch
  • Cinch / girth
  • Protective boots (I love my Woof Boots for everyday riding. They protect my horses legs and last forever!)
  • Bucket Hangers
  • Feed (bring extra)
  • Supplements
  • Feed scoop (or pre-pack)
  • Bedding (if needed)
  • Water / feed buckets
  • Grooming supplies
  • Spare latigos / leather ties for saddle
  • Bathing supplies and sweat scraper
  • Saddle
  • Saddle pad x 2
  • Breastcollar / martingale
  • Crupper (if needed)
  • Spare bit
  • Bridle x 2
  • Cross ties
  • Neck strap (if needed for jumping)
  • Trail halter (if needed)
  • Check all tack for proper fit and safety / wear issues
  • Medications
  • Lunge line and whip
  • Fly spray (see our 14 favorites)
  • Earplugs (if needed)
  • Head bumper (if needed)
  • Treats
  • Braiding kit
  • Towels / rags
  • Clippers (optional)
  • Grooming sprays / hoof polish / spot cleaner
  • Leather conditioner / cleaner / wipes
  • Silver polish
  • Bailing twine
  • Saddlebags / horn bags
  • Emergency hoof protection
  • Hobbles
  • Picket line

Horse // Pre-Trip Checklist

  • Double-check packing list above
  • Once-over body check
  • Standing wraps or travel boots (if desired)
  • Swap to breakaway travel halter
  • Fly mask on (if desired)
  • Offer water
  • Offer salt
  • Tie securely with quick-release trailer tie and/or breakaway halter

Horse Rider // Packing List

  • Cell phone
  • Cell phone charger x 2
  • Cell phone leg holster (I got two of these so I can keep one in my trailer. I love them that much!)
  • Helmet x 2 (See what I wear here.)
  • Safety vests (Read about my ‘favorite fall’ wearing my Hit-Air Vest here.)
  • Compass (if needed)
  • Show clothes
  • Barn clothes
  • Jacket / coat (weather dependent)
  • Rain jacket (weather dependent)
  • Layers, layers, layers!
  • Out and about clothes
  • Belt(s)
  • Baseball hat, cowboy hat, or visor
  • Gloves (barn and show)
  • Extra hair ties / bandana
  • Neck gaiter
  • Chapstick
  • Riding boots
  • Muck boots (Read about our favorite muck boots here.)
  • Everyday shoes
  • Spurs
  • Sunglasses
  • Contact lenses / glasses
  • Orange safety vest
  • Camera and batteries (Check out 5 Soloshot Alternatives to Record Your Ride)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hair ties
  • Makeup bag / toiletries
  • Sewing kit
  • Cover ups for grooming
  • Beverage with electrolytes
  • Lint roller
  • Safety pins
  • Boots / socks
  • Show pants/chaps
  • Show coat
  • Show shirt
  • Boot pulls / jack
  • Breeches / jodhpurs
  • Undergarments
  • Stock tie and pin (dressage)
  • Show number pins / lapel pin
  • Hair net / hair pins
  • Watch (eventing)
  • Knife
  • Water, food, and snacks
  • Medications
  • Bug spray
  • Medical ID bracelet
  • Headphones

Note: If you’re new to riding or simply want to make sure you’re prepared, check out our article about what to wear horseback riding and what to wear trail riding.

Horse Rider // Pre-Trip Checklist

  • Double-check packing list above
  • Tell someone where you’re going, your route, and when you’ll check in that you’ve arrived safely
  • Review your route
  • Use the restroom!

Horse Trailering Tips

  • Clean your trailer after every use. (Your floorboards will thank you!)
  • Regularly wash the interior and exterior of your trailer.
  • Regularly check for rust, leaks, rot, or other structural issues.
  • Keep your hitch in good repair at all times.
  • Maintain correct tire pressure.
  • Schedule an annual maintenance appointment with a reputable service provider or dealer.
  • Allow extra time for stops and rest breaks. (Every few hours is a good idea, and remember to offer your horse(s) water.)
  • If hauling over 12 hours, break up your trip by staying overnight mid-way.
  • Maintain a safe distance between you and vehicles ahead of you.
  • Signal for turns earlier than you would driving without your trailer.

Want more tips? Equispirit has a great article about horse trailer safety and maintenance.

Horse Trailer Weights

Free Resources

Packing & Horse Trailering Checklist Trail Riding Essentials List


Hit the Road Ready

Hauling horses does get easier with time and practice, but even equestrians who have been trailering for years rely on checklists.

Do yourself (and your horses) a favor by downloading our Quick Print Horse Packing & Trailering Checklist so you never forget the essentials again.

Safe travels!

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About the author

Horse Rookie

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!