View Full Version : Down sizing to a bumper pull and NEED help!

Jan. 17, 2010, 08:29 AM
Hey Guys,
Well its a new year and I'm getting rid of everything I dont ABSOLUTELY have to have..which means the huge 1 ton truck and the gooseneck trailer..I just bought a new f-150 yesterday and now I am looking to trade in my gooseneck trailer for a nice 2 horse bumper pull, I will only be traveling about an hour or so to horseshows and about 35 minutes to lessons. Now I know NOTHING about bumper pulls, my new truck has the towing package in it, its also a 4x4, I live on a terrible dirt road. I was told by the trailer dealer that I got my GN from that he has a 4-star, sundownder and a lakota that I could trade for...What are the brands that are "the best", long lasting, sturdy trailer..That I can safely pull with my F-150? Also what all do I need, I know i NEED a sway bar, what is a weight distribution hitch? Thanks in advance I know this has been discussed over and over...but I NEED advice asap! Thankss

Jan. 17, 2010, 10:00 AM
Depending on exactly what F150 you have, I would say most any 2H trailer would be fine. Check here (https://www.fleet.ford.com/showroom/rv_trailer_towing/default.asp) for tow ratings if your truck is 2002 or newer.

Trailer brand is a personal choice, I don't see how you could go wrong with 4star.

Take a read through this faq (http://www.etrailer.com/faq-weightdistribution.aspx) to learn about WDH and sway control. The actual Equal-i-zer (http://www.equalizerhitch.com/) brand hitch is very popular and is what I used with my Explorer.

You will also need a brake controller (http://www.brakecontroller.com/), I recommend a Prodigy or better model to keep things under control.

Jan. 17, 2010, 11:53 AM
I used to keep two trucks and two trailers due to the fact that a young man with pyromanical tendencies lived down the road from me (made home-made napalm etc). I just knew that we would have a grass fire some day and would need to evacute all horses quickly. He grew up and moved away, so I was eager to unload the 3H gooseneck and aging F250. I am down to just a regular Chevy 1500 and bumper pull and couldn't be happier. So much easier and quicker to hook up. No more climbing around in the truck bed to hook up the gooseneck. You do what you can do with your aging body and mine didn't like the non-hydraulic hookup procedures.

I would recommend an aluminum constructed trailer for its lighter weight and if you are used to bringing a lot of things with you to shows, a separate dressing/tack room. Top of the line brands are 4-Star, Barrett (not sure they make a bumper pull), and Featherlight. Spec out trailer tires (heavier sidewall construction) on any model you order. I was astounded to find that many trailer manufacturers use passenger tires on their newer trailers. Make sure if you have big horses, that you provide enough head room and width for them. I prefer side by side loading arrangements for that reason.

Good luck!

Jan. 17, 2010, 12:44 PM
I just bought an old sterling trainer. Its nice but they dont make them anymore.

My family has a 4 star (its a goose neck 2 horse +1). I absolutely love it, it is such a lovely trailer. And they look incredibly nice after a wash, shine comes right back.

Also, Eby makes suuuuper surable trailers- but for a price.

I hear adams is nice, I almost bought one. And they make Al ones too.

sundowners and trail-ets have a lot of "cute" (as I call them) attachments that do not hold up well unless you are one of those meticulous people who garage keeps their trailers and sweeps it daily and all that. Like the little door handles and window prop thingy's just break after time. My family is the type that takes care of the horse and maybe remembers to sweep out the trailer and close it up right before the next trailer ride! hehe

Jan. 17, 2010, 04:00 PM
What size are your horses that you will be hauling?

I would check thoroughly into the towing capacity of the F-150. Engine may be big enough, but is the frame sturdy enough and heavy enough?

Yes, you can gain the speed you need but what about stopping safely in a less than perfect weather conditions with a live load in the trailer????

Personally, I wouldn't haul with anything less than a 3/4 ton even in a downsizing situation.

Jan. 17, 2010, 04:10 PM
I have to say I am very safety conscious, did a LOT of research before I bought my truck and trailer, and...gasp...tow with a 1500 ....
which is a heavy duty, and as EQUIPPED (yes, all 150s/1500s are not the same) has a tow rating of 9000 lbs.

Please don't tell people they can't tow a 2 horse bp with anything less than a 3/4 ton truck. It's just not true. You can't tow a trailer with a truck that is not rated to tow that trailer, fully loaded. You have to run the numbers for the exact TRUCK you have or are looking at. There are way too many possible configurations.

To the OP, as 2bee said, start by figuring out your truck's tow rating. This article is helpful in terms of the hitch, etc.

Jan. 17, 2010, 05:28 PM
I've towed with a Chevy 1500 and now a Tahoe. You don't need anti-sway bars, IMO, with a standard 2 horse BP (unless your horse doesn't trailer quietly and/or you drive like a maniac). I have a Sundowner 2 horse straight load with a dressing room, warmblood size and have never felt the need for the anti-sway bars. That said, I do use anti-sway bars when towing our 22 ft long camper trailer. (BTW, around town, I just tow the camper with my regular horse trailer hitch).

As far as stopping goes, that's why trailers have electric brakes. I agree with the recommendation to go with a Prodigy controller; they're wonderful.

Jan. 17, 2010, 06:18 PM
Hey guys,
Thanks for all your adice, My new truck is 2009 and supposedly has up to 11,000 lb towing capacity, it came with the towing package in it, including the brake thing, not sure what you call it...do you think I will need something else? Also, I will be hauling two 14.2 hand ponies, usually only one though. Do you guys think the straight load or slants are better? I have a slant now and HATE the first stall, its TINY...but I have heard they are safer, if you have to slam on your brakes...I am going into town tomorrow to look at some trailer and will see what I find..Thanks for all your help!

Jan. 17, 2010, 06:23 PM
I don't know about the safety issue -- slants were never an option with me as my horses are too big *(17.3, 17.2, now the baby is 17 and chunky!) so I didn't really look into them...but I didn't love the idea that in order to get one horse in the front off you'd have to get the one in back off. If you are towing alone this could be a safety issue all by itself, in my opinion. Nice to be able to unload whichever one you want and leave the other one safely on board.

But lots of folks have them and love them. Horses ride well in them if they are small enough!

Jan. 17, 2010, 09:03 PM
I am buying a steel Adam stock/slant combo. The slant stall is not tiny at all - it will fit my 16.1 hh horse fine - I have measured him nose to tail and the stall(s) over and over in my trailer search - he isn't overly stocky but he isn't skinny either. The trailer I am buying has an escape door at the front of the 1st slant stall, so in an emergency, he has a way out without waiting for the back horse to move. I also like that I can pin the gates back and use the trailer as a stock when I am only towing one horse.

Your truck should tow a 2-horse BP just fine.

Watermark Farm
Jan. 18, 2010, 01:12 AM
I trailer with a 1/2 ton Suburban and a 2300 lb 2-horse straightload steel trailer. I've had this combo for 6 years and love it. I've had to replace front brakes a wee bit more often on the Suburban due to the towing, but otherwise it's been a great truck and trailer that I've used on long and short hauls in all sorts of weather and terrain.

Jan. 18, 2010, 01:44 AM
I bought a 1998 Kingston 2 horse pumper pull in 1999 as a left over. It is an aluminum trailer and still looks brand new. I take great care to clean out the inside after every use and have it washed/detailed and maintenance checked every other year. This trailer is great and tows like a champ. It is stored outside in the open but the finish stills looks wonderful. Love this trailer.

Tried the sway-bar hitch for safety and hated it. It was a pain in the butt to use and after paying quite a bit of money for it, stopped using it. I tow with a regular hitch and have no problems. I do have a breaking unit attached to my truck.

I'm towing with a 2003 Toyota Tundra V-8 4X4 and it all works great.

Jan. 18, 2010, 09:51 AM
Hey guys,
Thanks for all your adice, My new truck is 2009 and supposedly has up to 11,000 lb towing capacity, it came with the towing package in it, including the brake thing, not sure what you call it...do you think I will need something else? Also, I will be hauling two 14.2 hand ponies, usually only one though. Do you guys think the straight load or slants are better? I have a slant now and HATE the first stall, its TINY...but I have heard they are safer, if you have to slam on your brakes...I am going into town tomorrow to look at some trailer and will see what I find..Thanks for all your help!

I have heard it both ways, some say slants can make a horse sore on the front shoulder if you haul long in them, others say it doesn't make a difference.

If you are getting a two horse, I would guess straight makes more sense.
I would still want the choice of stock trailer, where you can haul one without a partition.
You have to get to three horses for slant to make a difference in space used and slants do use less space the more horses you add, so you can have a shorter trailer, or get more horses in a given space.

We used to pull our 16' stocktrailer, before we had goosenecks, for many years with our 150Fs, without any problems.
I still think goosenecks are the safest to pull down the highway, even the short trailers, because the trailer weight is better handled in front of the back axle, than being pulled from the back of a vehicle.

Of course, for that you need a pickup.

Jan. 18, 2010, 10:53 AM
I asked a trailer dealer the same question about slant load vs straight load. His answer was that the driver was the most important safety feature and was the determining factor in horses being comfortable.

Jan. 18, 2010, 06:25 PM
I would strongly recommend you put a weight distribution hitch on a half ton. It will help prolong the life of your vehicles suspension, etc.

You will be fine pulling a 2H BP with that truck. If you load it up with two horses and haul frequently, you will probably see a shortened life out of your tranny, etc, but just give it the best maintenance, follow the book, and you should be ok for a while.

I actually prefer steel to aluminum -- in order for aluminum to be as strong as steel, you have to use more of it, so the weight difference in a well-made trailer is very small. Out of the choices you have listed, I would go for the 4 star, condition being equal between the three. But of course, there are personal preferences that play into it too. If you can, tow the ones you are looking at. You want it to "disappear" behind the truck -- i.e. right straight, smooth, and true with good balance and enough weight on the ball that it doesn't bounce or tip over bumps.

Other than that, just stay within your limits. I also prefer a stock side (airflow!) step up trailer (horses seem to like this too) which also gives you a lighter trailer and less wear on your truck. Lots to think about, but as long as it is a well constructed trailer, your horses will be fine with whatever you chose.

Jan. 18, 2010, 09:14 PM
Within reason.

Keep the truck you just bought. I don't think a modest (and aluminum) bumperpull plus small horses will over-tax your 1/2 ton.

4-Star. Clearly.

Sundowner. Definitely not.

Lakota. I don't know.

4-Stars are well-designed, well-built aluminum trailers. A COTH search will tell you that Sundowners have some serious manufacturing defects that the company has been less than eager to acknowledge and rectify. The ones I have seen have met personally have not held up particularly well.

If it's money you're after (rather than ease and speed of trade), you'd do better than taking what your dealer has to offer, and buying and selling on your own.

But spend some time on-line looking around for "comps" for both your gooseneck and the bumperpull offered to make sure your dealer is coming close to a fair deal.

Whether you keep it or change your mind again, I think the 4-Star will hold its value the longest. As you'll discover, buying used but babied trailers and keeping for their natural born life is the most economical option.

Jan. 18, 2010, 11:35 PM
I believe the same COTH search coupled with additional research will tell you that SOME Sundowners, I believe the Value Lite models, have been reported as having some problems.

We have many Sundowners out here in CA and don't seem to have the problems reported back east. I have the 777 model and love it. Granted I've only had it 4 years and I do take care of it. I also took care of my Logan steel 2 horse slant that had the roof completely rusted through (ala sunroof) in less than 10 years. Fortunately, I had a "lifetime" warranty on paint so Logan did replace the roof and repaint the trailer for "free" but I had to haul it from LA to Logan, UT which is less than 20 miles from Idaho.

Jan. 19, 2010, 07:25 AM
Re: The Lakota. I have two words: RUN AWAY. :o

Before we bought our trailer, Mr. C'Mare and I did our research. We had the opportunity to climb up, down, around and through several trailers at an equine trade show in 2008. The Lakota, while lovely to view, was a glorified tin can on wheels. The welds were CRAP...heck, I could have done better welding! The butt and chest bars were very poorly padded and we noticed sharp edges everywhere.

We eventually bought an EquiBreeze stock combo from the folks at EquiSpirit. :)

Jan. 19, 2010, 07:42 AM
I think that with a stock combo you can get and pull more trailer for your money and vehicle.

The more you enclose a trailer, the more it costs and heavier to pull it generally becomes.

We pull our 16' GN stocktrailer with our 150F 4x4 fine, but if that was a fully enclosed horse trailer with partitions it would be heavier and max out our pulling power and safety stopping.

We have pulled long distances a friend's three full horse slant GN trailer and it did ok, but it was our limit.

On an old standard two horse bumper pull, I don't think you need to worry, it should handle that fine.

Jan. 19, 2010, 08:30 AM
Thanks for all the tips guys, I will definitely get the weight distribution hitch, I am actually going to shadow today to look at more trailers, I went and looked at the 4 star and it was nice but the guy working with us was just down right rude to us. I hope shadow has something for us :) Thanks guys!

Tiffani B
Jan. 19, 2010, 08:56 AM
I'm interested to hear what you think of the Shadow trailers. I'm going to be upgrading from a bp to a gn/lq in the next year and they're on my list to check out.

Jan. 19, 2010, 09:05 AM
Slant load all the way especially if you travel by yourself a lot. So much more one person friendly than a straight load.

Jan. 19, 2010, 10:12 AM
I second the Kingston trailers if you can find them-they are really well built.

I would definitely use the anti-sway bars because they make the rig so much safer. If you haul on windy days, get passed by tractor trailers on the highway, etc. you'll be glad you have them. Also, it makes it almost impossible to jacknife your trailer when backing up. Believe me, I test that feature often because I have a skinny driveway and always have to back up around multiple cars to put my trailer back in its parking spot.

Jan. 19, 2010, 11:56 AM
Slant load all the way especially if you travel by yourself a lot. So much more one person friendly than a straight load.

Not if you train your horse to self load.

Jan. 19, 2010, 01:38 PM
I can't believe no one has mentioned Hawk Trailers?! Or Risa! http:www.happytrailstrailers.com Worth the trip from anywhere...
Do a search. Hawk owners love their trailers :yes: I have an eleven y.o. Hawk 2H bumper pull that I just love. It has absolutely been the best trailer! When I was on the road last Friday, someone pulled up beside me at a light and tried to buy it :lol:

My trailer is straight load w/out a ramp. When I get my new Hawk, I'll get the same configuration. I usually haul alone and it's never been a problem. The beasties all love the trailer and they've been trained to self-load so it's easy peasy :D

Jan. 19, 2010, 02:10 PM
We have a Sundowner 740 and absolutely love it. Yes, some people have had some issues with their trailers, but you're going to find that with any manufacturer. We take meticulous care of the things we own: trucks, trailer, tractor, etc. Taking care of your tools makes them last longer, which means you don't have to buy a replacement so often.

I do like the 4-Star trailers as well, and was considering one when we bought our Sundowner. After crawling under and through the trailers, the floor joists underneath the Sundowner were closer together than the 4-Star and just seemed to be a better fit for us. We also preferred having a partially white trailer to pull behind a white truck instead of the 4-Star's plain aluminum look. Yes, it's probably a little vain to choose a trailer partially because of looks, but when you're trying to attract business, the way the rig looks is part of the marketing game.

Someone else here mentioned Featherlight... (I'm assuming they meant Featherlite, as I haven't heard of Featherlight...) I personally don't like them. We tested trailers like horses will test them and like they'll be used in real life. We kicked the rear doors on the Featherlite only to see it move a good inch or more... the Sundowner and 4-Star didn't do that. If you look at the steps / running boards that run along the side of the trailer, they're not welded to the trailer. Standing on it made it bend down slightly. I thought I was going to break it when I jumped on it. The 4-Star and Sundowner didn't even flex.

You can certainly tow a 2 horse bumper pull behind an F-150... just check the tow ratings and make sure that your fully loaded trailer with horses and gear is going to be less than your truck will handle. Also keep in mind that your truck may be in the shop from time to time, and you'll want to make sure your other vehicle or any loaner vehicle can handle it as well if need be.

Take your time looking around and buy the right one the first time. It's no fun to buy something only to regret it a month later because you didn't do your due diligence in the first place.

Jan. 19, 2010, 02:22 PM
I won't ever have another bumper pull, had one before with a suburban, and after it swayed on me, on the highway-almost ditched it...won't ever do that again!! I don't scare easily, but that was horrific.
slant loads, during stopping and starting put too much pressure on the right shoulder, and can cause issues. I much prefer the straight load. If it were a perfect world, the horses would face backwards.:D

Heart's Journey
Jan. 20, 2010, 09:08 AM
I noticed you live in Fla as I do, so I heartily recomend all aluminum due to the rusting issues with steel and aluminum skin trailers.

I pulled BP's for 10 years with an F-150, but it had a short bed and single cab - my trailer had a DR, so it was really too long to pull with that truck. I did it and never had an accident, but I never felt all that safe with it on the highway.

If you have an extended or crew cab, you will have plenty of wheelbase and probably won't need the sway bars. I tried the sway bars, but I have to hitch up alone and HATED the sway bars and heavy heavy hitch. I stopped using it as it was just too much effort.

I now have a 2H GN LQ Shadow and love it. Shadow isn't the top of the line trailer such as 4Star, Elite, Bloomer, & Hart, but they are a very good value and safe trailer. I have really looked at different trailers over the year and noticed they use the same hinges that Hart uses. They have really nice door latch system, the horse are roof is insulated which keeps it cooler in the summer which is important in Fla. Mine is an '03 which I bought used from a friend and I camp 2x a month from Oct-April, and use it for day rides 2-3 times a month, so it's used alot.

I always recommend that people go visit alot of trailer lots, go to horse shows and people are always willing to show you their trailers and talk about them. You will be amazed at the variety of designs, difference in welds, hinges, latches, and overall construction. With horse trailers you defintely get what you pay for.

I've had 2 slants and one straight load and prefer the slants since I camp and the rear tack is really handy for tack, chairs, buckets, meds, rake, water container, etc. My horse loads by himself, which is much safer than going in the trailer with him.

Good luck and happy shopping. Be sure to tell us what you end up getting.

Jan. 20, 2010, 09:20 AM
Hi guys!
Now I'm torn between the 4 star and the Shadow...Shadow doesnt want to do a even trade with us so we may end up with the four star! I will let you guys know what I get. Yippy!

Jan. 20, 2010, 09:24 AM
Here's a suggestion for an equalizing/anti-sway hitch...you want both! There's even a nice video to watch explaining what it all means.


You're in Florida...yep, rust is a killer. Aluminum is your friend.

I'm not a devotee of slant loads, I want to be able to unload one horse without taking the other one or two out first. That's just not efficient or safe.

Have you looked at stock trailers? They can be a bargain, they come with dressing rooms, are cheaper and are lighter to tow.

Trailers are personal...I like Eby, 4-Star, Jamco in Aluminum. In a steel stock, I like Corn-Pro.

Good luck

Jan. 20, 2010, 02:36 PM
Hi guys!
Now I'm torn between the 4 star and the Shadow...Shadow doesnt want to do a even trade with us so we may end up with the four star! I will let you guys know what I get. Yippy!

Well there is your answer.

If I was trailer shopping and 4star was on the list........Shadow never would have been.