Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Horse Trailers

I am officially summoning the wisdom of the horsey blogosphere. Please do contribute any knowledge you happen to possess. I am on a steep learning curve.

I am considering saving up this year and purchasing a horse trailer. I've been reading up on it a bit, but there is a LOT of information out there. So, if you're willing to help me out, please give input and qualify it by telling me 1) what truck you drive 2) what trailer type you haul 3) how frequently you use it.

Since I have one horse, I would like a two horse trailer. Since I've always used slant loads, I think I want a slant load. I would prefer a tack room over a tiny tack compartment (must accommodate my whoring tendencies). It must be bumper pull--the truck I have access to (newer Ford F-150 with tow package) has a bumper pull hitch and I see no reason to go to a gooseneck.

So... help me out. Steel vs Aluminum? Straight vs slant? Trailer height for a 16 hand horse? Width? Good manufacturers? Bad manufacturers? Any tips, pointers, ideas?


  1. If you've got a F150, go with aluminum - a steel trailer would be too heavy. And the 150's transmission may or may not survive if you haul two horses.

    I have a F350 long-bed with crew cab and dual rear tires and a 4-horse Featherlite slant load. This rig was purchased with a view to long-distance hauling with several horses - I and my daughter have done numerous 1,000+ mile runs with it and it's performed admirably. Since I have 3 horses, I'll probably keep it as I'd lose money if I downsized. I'd prefer a F250 and and 2-horse slant, as most of my hauling is local and involving 1 or 2 horses. I haven't been hauling a lot lately but expect to be hauling out to local trails a lot in the spring.

    I researched a lot when I bought and have been very pleased with the Featherlite. There are a number of very good brands out there, and availability tends to be by region. There have been minor issues but I'm still happy. When you pick a brand, be sure you have a good local dealer or trailer servicer - trailers need regular servicing and maintenance for safety and longevity.

    Good luck.

    2-horse slants can be hard to find - you might have to order or really keep an eye out.

  2. FUNNNNNN TRAILERS! I'm such a nerd with them, I literally stare at every single one on the highway and spew stats as though I'm a gear head teenage boy describing his favorite muscle car...

    ANYWAY. I went through a similar thought process as you last year. I LOVE slants, am comfortable with them, but realistically also really like the big Sundowner straight loads too.. .horses don't mind them and they are super light and a 150 could haul one fine.

    I haul with an overpowered Dodge 6500 dually (big work truck). My trailer is a 3 horse aluminum bumperpull, so it's really light and its extra tall/wide. I think regardless of what you get, looking for the extra height and width (especially width on a slant) is worth it. For one thing its nice for the ponies and makes it inviting, for another it makes them much easier to sell... Also, I only have one horse, but I give Pia the first two stalls so that her big butt has room to spread out and splay her legs for balance. I haul a Silver-Lite Freedom. :)
    Kate right, good used 2 horse slants are hard to find.. that's how I landed on a 3 horse, but I'm happy I did now. I love the extra room.

    hmm what else. I love a big lockable tack room. It's my "storage unit" since I don't have my own barn anymore. Extra pads, boots.. everything.. I absolutely love trailer shopping!

  3. Fun! How exciting!

    We checked out every type of trailer dealership in the PNW (Washington, Oregon, Idaho) to educate ourselves before we started looking for a good used one (yea nationwide craigslist search). We ended up deciding on a Trails West, because we wanted steel and we were far more impressed with their craftsmanship over all the other companies we looked at. After watching a friends horse kick the poo out of a trailer, we wanted something that had double walls and would dent and not crack (aluminum cracks, steel dents). Also, we were willing to drive to BFN and as such ended up getting a great deal on our used trailer. It is a custom 2 horse slant on a 3 horse chassis, so we have extra wide slants (35" btw dividers) and an extra big tack room. It is also 7'3" tall, which is the perfect size for Rose, who is 16h and has a more upright carriage. In newer trailers these dimensions are more standard and they call it their "warm-blood" package. Another reason we went with TW is that you can add on a ramp, which at the time I wanted to do, but has become a non-issue now. Our truck is a F250 manual power-stroke and has no problems pulling it. The trailer empty weighs about 3000lb, so with Rose and another warm-blood we are at 6000lb max fully loaded. Good luck!

    Adventures In Colt Starting

  4. Yay! Wheels are the best :) I have a Yukon Denali and a 2 horse sundowner bumperpull slant load trailer. My trailer has a ramp and that really helps with loading. I also have a huge tack room which is awesome and useful so I have to store less stuff at my house in the garage. Check out used trailers for sure. I got mine for $3K and it's in great condition, serving me VERY well! Once you get the trailer be sure to take it in for a full service to make sure it's in tip top shape.

  5. Couple more thoughts, sorry! When I'm showing and in full gear (vs. injury mode right now) I use my trailer 1-3 times a month. It is worth it to be on my own schedule and get a little extra $ for hauling others. Having a trailer was critical when Pongo got injured in Nov. We had to get to the horse hospital NOW and I cannot imagine if I didnt have my own rig to just hook up an go. I would have been beyond panicked if I'd been trying to call everyone and get a ride for him lined up at 9p on a Friday. Worth EVERY penny of ownership in moments like those.

  6. 7 ft at least for a 16h. I would def say aluminum. Mine is a heavy ass steel one and wihthout a horse it weighs 4000lbs. GAH.
    I would also DEF look on for trailers. I plan on buying one off there as soon as I get the monies. They have extremly nice ones for under 4k if you look hard.
    I don;t know much about anything else trailer wise, but I do know I love slant load. I feel it lessens the strain on their joints somehow.
    When I was home I used the trailer 1-3 times a week, since I hauled out for lessons and schooling. Now though, since it is still at my moms house and I live in MO...not at all. Working on that. Good luck! Sorry I'm not more informative.

  7. I have a Kingston aluminum and I pull it with a Dodge Durango. A bigger truck would be better, but the Durango does fine with two horses in the trailer. I haven't looked at some of the newer models/brands of trailers myself, and mine is well over 10 years old.

    Aside from weight, the benefit of aluminum is that the body does not rust over time.

  8. We haul with a 1997 F-350 and have a two horse straight load Trail-Et trailer with a large tack room. The company is out of Wisconsin and we have been more than pleased with it so that when we traded in the first trailer (didn't have a tack room), we got the same brand again. Make sure it is extra tall and wide for your big girl! I think ours is 7'6" tall - has fit a wide variety of horses. I am not a fan of Sundowners (crappy/cheap manufacturing in my opinion), but many people have them. I am a huge fan of Hawk (they are incredibly similar to Trail-Et - made by someone who used to work there but with some things tweaked - I have heard they are even better), C&C, and Trail-Et trailers. Steel frame with aluminum skin seems to be the way to go. If you buy it used make sure to check the floor! That is my biggest nightmare that the floor will rot through. Eeek! Good luck and happy hunting. Truck and trailer will be next on my wish list - after the horse of course :-)

  9. I've got an F150 4WD with full tow package and I pull a Bison straight load bumper pull. It's a steel frame with aluminum skin. My F150 pulls two horses just fine, I've even pulled all steel trailers with two big warmbloods on board. You can't even tell you've got anything back there. I do think the 4WD makes a difference, not because you need 4WD to pull a trailer, but because 4WD models have beefier chassis and transmissions.

    As far as trailers go, I prefer a straight load to a slant. My horses don't like to load in a slant, and get confused and upset. (I admit, I have weird horses) My trailer is a "TB" model, it's 7' wide and 7'5" tall. It fits my 16'3 horses (they take an 84 in blankets) just fine.

    We chose the steel frame and aluminum skin for a couple reasons: 1) Aluminum is light and doesn't rust like steel, so it makes a great skin. 2) While aluminum doesn't "rust" and look ugly over time, it does not have the structural integrity of steel. Aluminum tears and shears under stress, which can be dangerous in an accident. Also, when it fails, it fails completely and without warning. At least with steel you can look at it and say "Ooh, the steel is rusting, better watch that." Aluminum gives no warning when it hits the end of its life span. But, if you're not planning on keeping the trailer forever, I suppose that's not so much of a problem. For us, we wanted the the steel frame.

    Have fun on your trailer finding journey! We got ours off Craigslist, which is a great resource if you have time and are willing to haggle. Just be sure to do your research first!

  10. We drive a beast of a dually F-350 :) It is a good truck. Old, maroon, beat-up, and ugly as hell, but durable and it works.

    We have a big 3-horse slant load stock-type trailer with a walk-in tack room. It's a bit overkill for 1 McKinna-sized horse, but sometimes we end up hauling others and until we find a really good deal on a smaller 2-horse we'll stick with it. Walk-in tackroom is a MUST for the tack whores among us :)

    For what it's worth, I have REALLY liked the Hawk trailers I've seen. My trainer has a big one and it's really really nice, but I've also seen fantastic 2-horse ones. Really well made, nice trailers.

  11. Also, to add, I think the slant vs. straight load is really up to individual preference. I've heard arguments both ways - horses prefer slant, or slant puts more weight on the right shoulder, or whatever.

    McKinna doesn't seem to care and she'll haul fine in either one. If you gave Pandora the room, she'd stand straight no matter what, so for her a straight load trailer was best. I prefer straight load with butt bars and a ramp as it's very easy to safely load by yourself (send horse up into slot, close butt bar, close door, come around front and secure the trailer tie to their halter). But I'll take a slant load if that's what I get, and McKinna's so easy to haul that you could probably put her in the bed of a truck and she'd go fine!

    You'll definitely want as tall as possible...7' at bare minimum.

  12. I want to throw in that Gingham's trailer is indeed really roomy! Enough room for me to get almost killed, my husband to pull me out and Denali to keep freaking out. PLUS no damage! (Well, that I know of, she might have been nice ;0)

  13. My Stable mate is selling her nice 2 horse slant. She went with a custom 2 horse straight, after having an incident with her slant last year.Not the slants fault.Her prefferance.
    EQUINEMINE is her blog.

    I just bought my first truck and trailer last year.
    After much talk and research, I decided gas over Diesel. Deisel has gone up and the cost for keep are about $1,000 every time you go in.An oil change is like $200! So I pay alot at the pump...but save when I take it to the mechanic.

    I got a Ford 350 4x4. A 250 4x4 would be great..but this one was available for under 10,000. my mechaic and horse freinds told me not to go under the 250 power.(for the steel trailer I got)

    4x4 for the gravel, slippery grasses, and sometimes muddy places, I have to park. I don;t wish to ever get stuck with horses!

    My trailer is a Thuro bilt 2 horse stock.
    I hate the removable wall. The tack room is GREAT. I have put plexiglass over the wall by the front horse-to keep horsefaces from going over it and getting stuck on the bride hangers. And I have put silicone goo along the wall base space, to prevent shavings and pee from coming into the tack room under the wall.

    Get the extra tall and wide. mine is normal( I got it from an arab owner.)My TB mare could use another foot behind her-forsure!
    My siss has the 3 horse Thuro Bilt and it actually is easier for me to drive,turn and park than the 2.
    It is extra tall and wide and I loved using it!

    I use my trailer once to twice a week(once spring hits)...local trails and rides..then also for horsecamping in the summer.

    Good trailer brakes are esential too.
    Have fun looking!! You will never regret the purchase and convienence!

  14. Hooray!!! That's exciting. Growing up, my best friend's parents owned a Featherlite & my parents had a truck, so my mom hauled my bestie's horse and mine everywhere we wanted to go and it was a BREEZE. I definitely would go aluminum, Featherlite's are awesome, step up vs. ramp IMO is totally up to you. I don't think there's any huge advantage to one over the other - they both get the job done!!

  15. We purchased a Sundowner 2 horse bumper pull, gently used, 2 years ago - love it! It is extra tall & wide - my mare is a TB x Warmblood cross also. It is a straigh load with a small tack room. We pulled it the first summer with a Dodge 1500 and it ruined the transmission. Purchased last year a Ford 250 diesal - no problems towing with this! Oh, and we haul my daughter's tall TB in it also. Happy shopping!

  16. I missed a post??! Should be a sin. Trailers, fun! I hope your trailer fund goes better than my arena fund. I have a dodge 2500 diesel. I was warned not to haul with anything smaller. Whatever you haul with make for damn sure it has a transmision cooler on it. As for trailers I am comfortable with straight load but don't think it really matters either way in a two horse. Go big! Steady is 17 hands so a bit bigger but I have hauled in a trailer too small and you probably remember what a nightmare that was every time I hauled. I have a trailet warmblood size extra tall extra wide, bumper pull with two tack compartments and a ramp. A tack room would be nice but I make due just fine. The ramp I would consider a none issue. things I LOVE about my trailer. The front window that I can see the horses at all times from my rear view mirror. NO dividing pole in the back. All dividers completely remove with simple pin system. It is a steel frame with aluminum shell, makes for a very light and easy haul.


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