Choosing the right horse trailer for your hauling needs is crucial for everyday safety, comfort and peace of mind. You wouldn’t transport your young child in a child seat that didn’t fit, was uncomfortable, or didn’t meet general safety guidelines. Well, properly caring for your horse is your responsibility, and getting a proper trailer is part of that responsibility. Here’s a guide to choosing the proper horse trailer, and the different types available.
These refer to the manner in which the trailer is hauled. The bumper pull trailer, also known as a tag-along, is the normal hitch trailer able to be pulled with a simple ball hitch by any SUV or truck, depending of course upon weight. Advantages are the ability to be hauled by vehicles other than trucks, lower cost, and a smaller sized trailer.
Gooseneck pull trailers are the type that connect to a hitch centered in the middle of a truck bed. These are great for hauling larger loads—2 horses or more. Their benefits include smoother hauling (due to the hitch being better centered, not on the bumper), an easier-to-back-up trailer (meaning it’s harder to jackknife). They do have a tendency to cut harder on turns, since they don’t directly follow the path of the tires, however.
Stock trailers are trailers that aren’t specifically designed for horses, but all types of livestock. These are a cheaper option and can work in a pinch. Best of all, they can be easily converted into a fairly respectable horse trailer with a little do-it-yourself attitude and willingness to work. You can find a great example of an easy to follow step by step guide at http://www.ehow.com/how_6885029_convert-stock-trailer-horse-trailer.html
Horse trailers of course refer to trailers specifically made for the purpose of transporting horses. These will be better equipped, ready to go as is, and a better option for first time trailer owners.
The main two metals currently used in horse trailers are aluminum and steel. There are pros and cons to both.
· Aluminum is lighter to haul
· Aluminum is extremely rust and corrosion resistant
· Aluminum is lighter and more brittle than steel
· Aluminum is a hard material to weld, making it difficult to repair
· Generally the strongest material
· New improvements can help increase rust resistance (still not as much as aluminum though)
· Easier to repair, and welds tend to be more durable
· Heavy, increasing towing costs
· Potentially increased chance of rust and/or corrosionCan be more expensive
With all the different options for hybrid trailers, there’s too broad a spectrum to list. There are galvanized steel trailers, aluminum trailers with a steel frame, aluminum alloys, and even new hybrids emerging regularly.
Typically these hybrids run a little more expensive, but can be one of the most effective models as they try and combine the best of both worlds. I would recommend researching these more if you feel this is a route you’re interested in.
Slant load is a recent innovation in the horse trailer world, and is the current preferred method. There are several reasons for this. They include:
Loading horses at a slant makes more efficient use of space within the trailer, meaning you can load more horses into a shorter trailer.
It’s been widely recognized that horses better handle the bumps and jolts of the road when riding at a slant within the trailer. This makes it easier on the horses, and lets them ride more comfortably for longer.
Generally speaking, slant load trailers are considered the best option. Like anything they has their drawbacks—namely less room in the trailer per horse, and only being able to unload one horse at a time, with the first one potentially backward—but I’ve found it to be better than the traditional style of straight load.
Having extra space in the trailer not designated to the horses themselves is often a necessity. For long trips you’ll need your tack—saddles, halters, leads, bits, stirrups, rope, etc. etc.—not to mention feed, water, and general storage. This is where the tack room comes in. But why settle for the bare minimum? There are options beyond just the simple tack room.
More luxurious trailers, termed Living Quarter, actually host a small space for the humans themselves to sleep, eat, and generally live in. These vary in size, but all come at a higher price tag and larger trailer size. For the serious traveler a little luxury is often worth the extra price and size, however.
If you’re looking for something in-between a tack room and living quarter trailer, the dressing room option might be just the thing. Here you’ll have slightly expanded storage, as well as elbow room to change. This is a great moderate option for those looking for something slightly larger than a tack room, but not quite as extravagant as a living quarter horse trailer.
In the end it’s important to get a horse trailer that will best fit your needs. Be realistic and honest. If you’re looking for the most affordable, one horse transport option and consider yourself fairly handy, maybe buying a stock trailer and converting it yourself is your best option.
If you’re looking to get into the rodeo circuit or just spend a summer—or year—traveling and living your dream, maybe you really do need to the living quarter trailer.
No matter what your circumstance, there’s a trailer to fit your needs. Remember to consider your horse as well, and their comfort and personality. Taking care of them is your responsibility and having a proper horse trailer to safely transport them is a large part of that responsibility. Hopefully this guide helps—please, leave me any comments you have and I’ll be happy to answer them. Happy trails!
Matt James is an avid outdoorsman and a lover of all things horse. He currently writes for the quality horse trailer supplier http://www.doubledtrailers.com.