Horse trailers in poor condition can cause road accidents or injure your horses. Horses can fall through the floors of an ill-maintained trailer, or the trailer can become unhitched while on the road. Sharp pieces inside the trailer stalls can cut your horse and result in very expensive veterinary bills. Because of this, you need to take your time refurbishing a horse trailer and make sure every part is safe and can hold up to the weight of your horses inside.
Check the axles and frame of the trailer. If you find rust that has eaten through the metal, it will probably cost you more to refurbish the trailer than to buy a used trailer in better condition.
Check your trailer for bubbles or bumpy texture in the paint. These signs could mean rust under the paint.
Sandblast away any areas of rust so that you can repaint. Areas where the rust has eaten through the metal will need to have plates bolted over them.
Repaint the trailer in a light colour, such as white or light grey. These colours will make trailer-loading your horse easier, as the brighter colour inside is more welcoming to horses. Dark colours make trailers seem cave-like, and horses instinctively avoid caves.
Check the latches, windows, vents and ramp (if the trailer has a ramp) to ensure they are all working. If there is a movable divider separating the two stalls, check it as well, and be sure that when it's latched into place, it doesn't move. Grease and replace parts as necessary. You may need to reseal windows that are leaking.
Stab the trailer flooring, if wooden, to make sure there's no rot in the planks. Pay particular attention to the area in the back of the stalls, since this is where urine and manure build up during trips. If the screwdriver sinks into the wood, it needs to be replaced. Jump up and down on any flooring to see if it gives way or doesn't seem sturdy. If it's unsteady, replace it.
Look at the mats and rubber on the walls and doors (or back of the stalls, if your trailer is one in which the horses are backed in), and replace if needed. To provide the most cushioning for your horse's legs, mats need to be at least three-fourths of an inch thick.
Reinforce or replace the sidewalls of the trailer if they are dented or deeply scratched, as this could mean it is coming apart from the floors or the frame.
Replace all of the tires (including the spare). Even tires that look to be in good condition are probably dry-rotted.
Check the wiring to make sure it all works by hooking the trailer up to your truck, and rewire if needed. Besides working your lights, the wiring also works your brakes.
Repair or replace the hitch, coupler, safety chains and breakaway cable if necessary. Make sure there aren't any cracks in the wires or bare wires, and look inside the battery case of the breakaway cable to be sure the connections are in good condition.
If you need help, work with the mechanic of a reputable RV or trailer dealer. These mechanics will have the most experience with the needs of your horse trailer.
You should only try to refurbish a horse trailer if you have plenty of experience repairing automobiles or other types of trailers. Because horse trailers are also carrying at least half a ton of moving animal, they need to be in good condition.