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What are Horse Trailers?

By KD Morgan
Updated May 21, 2024
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Horse trailers are non-motorized trailers that attach to your truck for transporting horses. There are several different styles and models to choose from, depending on your preferences and requirements.

Extensive price ranges allow you to choose from a used livestock trailer, starting around $500 US Dollars (USD) to the elaborate gooseneck or fifth wheel luxury horse trailers with living quarters. These can run well over $100,000 USD.

The simplest and most economical of horse trailers is a livestock trailer. They have an open bay interior for loading and transporting horses. Most fit three or more horses with a step up for loading in the rear of the trailer. Their lightweight steel frames with aluminum shells make them less stable or comfortable than an actual horse trailer, however. Rusting is the biggest concern for this option.

If you do not trailer your horse often and just need an emergency, medical transport, you might want to consider a bumper pull trailer. Most people that transport their horses to occasional shows or trail rides also prefer this style, as they are cost effective, comfortable and safe. A ball hitch coupler connects to a ball under or on the rear end bumper of your vehicle. Many are fitted with a tongue jack to raise or lower the coupler for easy connection.

Depending on the frequency of use, there are many upgrades for bumper pull trailers to accommodate your needs. They come with “big horse” or “standard horse” stalls. One of the most important considerations is whether you prefer slant loading or straight loading.

The slant-load horse trailers load the horses so they stand at an angle with padded partitions between each horse. They are better for smaller horses, as larger horses prefer the roomier, straight load stalls. One of the main advantages of slant load trailers is that your horse can lower his head and breathe more comfortably and naturally. His muscles are more relaxed in this position as well. In the stall straight-loads, there is a shelf in front of your horse for feeding.

The bumper pull trailers have end loading with full-width rear ramps or step up loading. They are much more stable and solid than the livestock trailers. With the exception of livestock trailers, most horse trailers come with tack quarters to store your tack, feed and gear. They also have good ventilation systems, which is imperative on long hauls.

The gooseneck and fifth wheel horse trailers are the most comfortable, elaborate, functional and reliable. The gooseneck involves installing a ball in the bed of your truck that connects to a coupler. The fifth wheel is a more durable version of the gooseneck and installs to a kingpin on the bed of your tow vehicle.

Because these horse trailers attach in the bed of the truck instead of the back of the vehicle, it allows for more stability and a larger turning radius. The trailers do not sway while driving down the highway so the horses do not have to keep themselves positioned for balance.

These horse trailers come in all sizes ranging from two stalls to five. Most have exceptional ventilation systems, ramp loading and large, comfortable stalls. Living quarters involve sleeping quarters, bathrooms with showers, kitchenettes with self-contained or hook up options.

The larger gooseneck or fifth wheel horse trailers have side loading ramps so horses can load and unload head first without having to back out. Normally, two horses will face forward and two backward with one on the side. For those who prefer the slant-load models, they can comfortably fit 6-8 horses.

In the United States, professionally transporting horses ranges from $2 USD per mile for cross-country destinations to $5 USD per mile for local, within 200-mile (322-kilometer) trips. The price will depend on the destination, conditions and how fast you need your horse transported. Often it will take weeks to transport your horse across the country because they have to organize routes to pick up and drop off horses on the way.

If you are moving horses on a regular basis, you can easily justify purchasing your own horse trailer, even if you choose to hire someone to drive it for you. It is also nice for your horse to become familiar with his own transportation vehicle. Transporting your own horses assures you that they are comfortable and safe while traveling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary purpose of a horse trailer?

Horse trailers are specialized transportation vehicles designed to safely and comfortably transport horses from one location to another. They are built to accommodate the size, weight, and movement of horses, ensuring their well-being during travel for events, veterinary visits, or relocation.

How many horses can a standard horse trailer carry?

The capacity of horse trailers varies widely, with models designed to carry anywhere from one to ten horses. Standard two-horse trailers are common for personal use, while larger trailers are used by commercial transporters or for transporting multiple horses to events, as noted by equine industry statistics.

What features are important in a horse trailer for the safety and comfort of the horses?

Key features for horse safety and comfort in trailers include adequate ventilation, sufficient headroom, non-slip flooring, interior padding, and dividers to prevent horses from injuring each other. Proper lighting and suspension systems also contribute to a smoother ride, reducing stress on the animals during transport.

Are there different types of horse trailers available?

Yes, there are several types of horse trailers, including bumper pull (tag-along), gooseneck, and living quarters trailers. Bumper pull trailers are commonly used for short distances and are easier to maneuver, while gooseneck trailers provide better stability for longer hauls. Living quarters trailers offer accommodations for people, making them ideal for extended travel.

What are the legal requirements for towing a horse trailer?

Legal requirements for towing a horse trailer vary by region but generally include having a suitable towing vehicle, proper hitching equipment, and adherence to weight limits. Drivers may need a specific license or endorsement depending on the trailer's size and weight. It's essential to check local regulations before towing a horse trailer.

How should a horse trailer be maintained to ensure its longevity and safety?

Regular maintenance of a horse trailer is crucial for safety and longevity. This includes checking tire pressure and tread, inspecting brakes and lights, lubricating hinges and latches, and cleaning the interior to prevent corrosion and disease. Annual inspections by a professional can help identify and address any potential issues early on.

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Discussion Comments

By anon350413 — On Oct 04, 2013

We need to get a horse trailer repaired and this is really great to know. Thanks for sharing.

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