Trailers Security- Best Ways to Lock a Trailer

Last Updated on December 26, 2022

Ways to Lock a Trailer – Trailers are a very important (and very expensive) part of most horse-owners equestrian experiences! Trailers are necessary to get your horse pretty much anywhere, aside from the walk from the barn to the arena or the pasture.  

Trailers are used to transport horses to competitions, to vacation destinations, to other farms, and anywhere else they would need to go!  They are a large investment and are typically well-maintained by those who understand and appreciate their value.

Unfortunately, trailer theft is more common than one might think.  Trailers are huge- how could someone steal one? Swapping plates and driving off with an unprotected trailer when its owners are away is easy to do in highly populated environments.

So, an important aspect of trailer ownership is making sure your trailer is securely locked.  There would be nothing worse than being stranded with your horses with no way to get them back home.  

In this article, I’ll be discussing some of the most commonly used methods of securely locking trailers and how these methods work to protect your trailer.

Trailer Hitch Lock Systems

Undoubtedly, the most simple and efficient way to lock your horse trailer (or any trailer for that matter) is with a hitch lock.  Many equine professionals and professional equine organizations list hitch locks as their number one or “go-to” option for securing their trailers.

A hitch lock uses a simple and easy to operate design.  The device simply goes over the trailer’s hitch, in any shape or fashion, making it impossible for someone to hitch the trailer to their truck or another vehicle.  Sometimes hitch locks are boxes, rectangles, or they form fit right over the trailer’s hitch.

Typically, hitch locks utilize simple keys, similar to the one you use to lock your house. There are many different companies that manufacture hitch locks, some more reliable than others.  And, if a hitch lock is weak or ill-fitting, it can be easy to clip, by an experienced thief.

So, it is best to go with a high-quality hitch lock, to ensure that it will actually do its job.  A great list of high-quality hitch locks is presented by Equine Ridge at the following link.

The right hitch lock may not be cheap, but you must consider the alternative and the value of your assets.  Properly securing your trailer not only protects your trailer, which can be a five to six-figure investment, but it also secures your horse’s safety and well-being.

So, the question becomes, are the value of your trailer and your horses’ well-being worth spending the money on a high-quality hitch lock? Most responsible equestrians around the world will say yes.

Other Lock Systems

While hitch locks are the most popular form of trailer locking system, there are also many others that are used either on their own or in addition to hitch locks.  These include tongue locks, coupler locks, and trailer-wheel locks. 

Trailer Tongue Locks

Tongue locks are very similar to hitch locks but can be even more effective if they are of high enough quality.  So, hitch locks prevent a thief from hitching your trailer to their truck. But, what if the thief is desperate enough that he doesn’t need a hitch to steal the trailer?

In rare instances, thieves have pulled trailers by their chains (located under the hitch) to get around the issue of a strong hitch lock.  While unlikely, it is possible that your trailer could get stolen this way.

A tongue lock will prevent this situation; bigger than a hitch lock, a tongue lock will cover your hitch, and include a lockable compartment in which to store the trailer’s chains.  If this doesn’t deter a persistent thief, I’m not sure what will!

Tongue locks cannot be used in addition to hitch locks, as they cover the same area as hitch locks, plus some more.  If you choose to use either a hitch lock or a tongue lock, you will have to pick one or the other, not both.

Wheel Locks for Trailers

Trailer-wheel lock systems are similar to what car enthusiasts use to secure their automobiles, beyond a typical locking system.  Trailer-wheel locks attach to either the inside or outside of a trailer’s wheels or tires and prevent them from spinning or rolling. 

For a thief to get around these, they would quite literally be dragging the trailer across the ground, which will likely cause a scene and/or noise enough to be realized and stopped. Trailer wheel-lock systems range in price and quality, just like hitch-lock systems.

It is also up to the purchaser whether to lock all wheels on the trailer, one wheel, two wheels, etc.  Trailer-wheel lock systems can be extremely effective if used properly and made of quality materials.

The Trailer-wheel locks can be used in conjunction with either a hitch lock or a tongue lock. Trailer-wheel lock systems only attach to the wheels on a trailer, and would not interfere with the use of a hitch lock or a tongue lock. 

The Ultimate Combination To Lock A Trailer

The most secure combination of the locking systems addressed in this article would be a tongue lock. This is a full all-wheel trailer-wheel lock system.  With this combination, all wheels are locked. The hitch is locked, and the chains that work with the hitch are locked.


The only person who can decide exactly what methods or trailer security will be best for you and your horses is yourself.  Your decision will depend on your budget, what types of situations and areas you trailer your horses to. How frequently you trailer your horses, how unique your trailer is, and other important factors.

Whether you choose hitch locks, tongue locks, or trailer-wheel locks, the decision is yours, and whatever will best suit the needs of you and your horses.  Trailers are an extremely valuable asset for safety and transport, and it is important to protect them as such.

I hope this article helped you learn more about what locking and security options there are for horse trailer owners.  If so, please share this article and share with us your experience with securing and locking your trailer!


What is the most secure trailer lock?

Trailer locks are used to secure horse trailers from being stolen. There are many different brands available but which is the most secure trailer lock?
The most popular name brand for horse trailer locks is probably Hidden Hitch, which produces a custom fit theft-resistant security lock that has notched-solder technology to prevent lock-picking and has a lifetime warranty. This lock is made of high-strength steel and testing shows that it can withstand picking, prying, and most types of sawing.
To make horse transport more secure, there are also locks and chains specifically designed for horse trailer security. These trailer locks (which include latches) claim they cannot be cut or broken and, with a latch attached to it, horse trailers can be opened for cleaning without having to remove the entire lock.

Is horse trailer theft common?

It's sad to know that horse trailers are often stolen, especially since horses and trailers are so expensive to replace, but stories of this kind of theft keep making news headlines. If you own a horse trailer and use it to transport your horse, you should take the precaution of protecting it with quality trailer locks.
There are no definitive statistics on horse trailer theft, as it is not a crime that is tracked nationally. However, according to the Trailer Theft Prevention Council, horse trailer theft has been increasing in recent years. In their 2017 report, they state that "during the first six months of 2017, there was a total of 1,746 horse trailers stolen in the US, which is a 9% increase from the same period in 2016."
The best way to protect your horse trailer against theft is by using a quality lock and chain, and by making sure your trailer is always secured to a solid object. Taking these precautions can help you rest assured that your horse and trailer are safe while you're away.

What is a coupler lock?

Coupler locks are locks that attach to the coupler (also known as the fifth wheel) and horse trailer ball. A locking mechanism is installed on horse trailers equipped with a coupler; this attaches to the coupler lock which is locked by using a key or combination code. When locked, couplers on horse trailers are secure.
It is important to note that coupler locks come in different styles; there are some which act as an anti-rattle device and others which use a 'snap-in' feature.
Coupler locks are not a new invention; they have been around for many years and their popularity has only grown since horse trailer theft has become more common. Because of the high-quality materials used to make them, coupler locks are one of the most effective ways to protect your horse trailer from being stolen.

What do you do if someone steals your horse trailer?

If you find that your horse trailer has been stolen, report the theft to your local authorities immediately. You should also provide the serial number of your horse trailer, which can be found engraved on a horse trailer's metal frame. In this way, horse trailers can be easily identified.
Horse owners should check the classifieds and online auctions for horse trailers that may belong to them. Authorities should be contacted if a horse trailer matching the description of your horse trailer has been found in an auction or on a potential buyer's property.
In some horse trailer theft cases, horse trailers are taken as a means of transportation for more serious crimes such as drug running or smuggling immigrants. In these instances, horse trailers can be used to transport stolen cars and even people across borders. Therefore, it is very important to contact authorities as soon as you realize your trailer has been stolen and provide all available information. This will help law enforcement track down the horse trailer and put an end to the illegal activity.