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Finding the Type of Trailer that is Right for You

By Cynthia McFarland | October 2013

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Horse trailer Trailers are either straight-load (horses face straight ahead while traveling) or slant-load (horses stand at an angle). While most horses prefer to travel straight, a slant-load allows for more horses (or a larger tack/living area) to fit in the same size trailer.

"The first thing I ask a customer is, ‘What kind of horses do you have, what size are they and what are you doing with them?’ The second thing is I ask what tow vehicle they are using,” says Kevin Scott, a salesman at Nelson’s Trailer Sales & Service in Ocala, Florida, which has been in business since 1965.

"The advantage of a straight-load is that it’s better for larger horses like warmbloods and Thoroughbreds,” says Scott. "You also need to consider trailer height. Seven feet is standard and that’s fine for breeds like Quarter Horses. If you have bigger horses, you’ll want a 7'6" height. Standard trailer stall width is about 32 inches, but for a larger horse you’d want 40 inches.”

Whether you want a bumper pull or gooseneck style also depends on how many horses you’re hauling and your preferred equine activities. People who show or travel frequently often want a gooseneck with living quarters, or at least a tack room.

When it comes to materials, you have three options: aluminum, steel or a combination of steel and aluminum. The two major advantages of all-aluminum are that it never rusts and is lighter in weight than all steel trailers. For these exact reasons, an all-aluminum trailer will cost significantly more than an all-steel trailer of the same size and style.

14 Questions to Ask Yourself When Buying a Trailer

  • What is your budget?
  • How many horses do you need to haul?
  • What type and size of horses will you typically be hauling?
  • What is the towing capacity of your tow vehicle?
  • Do you want bumper-pull or gooseneck?
  • What type of climate will you be hauling in the majority of the time?
  • What is the minimum interior height of the trailer? (don’t go less than 7 1/2 ft. for large breeds)
  • How wide and long are the stalls?
  • What is trailer material, and is it well-constructed?
  • What ventilation features does the trailer have?
  • What type of floor does the trailer have?
  • Can you easily access all the horses without having to unload any?
  • Do you prefer ramp or step-up?
  • Is the door style compatible with your standard use and climate?

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist.

Further Reading
Towing Capacities
Travel safely with your horse this winter


Read more in the October 2013 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine.

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Finding the Type of Trailer that is Right for You

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Reader Comments

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

9/1/2013 11:34:01 PM

Great advice.

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