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View Full Version : Is Head to Head better than SL for long trips?



pheasantknoll
Jul. 25, 2011, 11:55 PM
Looking for info, especially from West Coast Eventers, or others who haul pretty long distances with some regularity. Do you notice a difference with head to head, what do you use? Thanks in advance.

PKN

scubed
Jul. 26, 2011, 07:21 AM
IIRC, there have been some studies that say facing backwards is easiest for a horse when traveling and that slant load is ok if they are used to it, but not if they are not

Wits End Eventing
Jul. 26, 2011, 07:27 AM
I know when we did our initial research on trailers ages ago we found some good studies about horses preferring to travel backward. At the time Head to Heads weren't around so our first trailer was a reverse slant load. I'd guess that the ones in the front of a Head to Head would be happier but the ones in the back...

Here is a quote and link to an article I found in a quick search.

"Research on the effects of transporting horses facing the front or back of the vehicle concluded that heart rates were lower on those animals facing the rear of the truck or trailer. The researchers concluded that horses were less physically stressed travelling backwards, as they tended to rest their rumps, dropping a hip, leaning over the forequarters, lowering the head and relaxing to the point of dozing off. (3) They were also better able to balance and brace themselves during transport and vocalized less than their front-facing travel mates. (4) Several other investigators, including Wentworth Tellington, and David Holmes, confirmed that horses facing backwards and untethered showed less signs of stress. (1)"

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/info_trailering.htm

I know we found some data from the 60's as well.

Anecdotally we trailer using box stalls a lot now so I don't have to switch dividers around and a very high percentage of the time the horses are backward when we stop.

Hope that helps.
Dale

horsecents
Jul. 26, 2011, 07:56 AM
Depending on the trailer, I feel the head to head affords the horse more space than the slant load. From recent personal experience, my horse made the 6 hour trip to KY in a head to head and seemed to be much more comfortable than the same trip last year in a slant load. They're also easier to work out of at a horse show.

pegasusmom
Jul. 26, 2011, 08:03 AM
Get the book that Neve Scheve wrote about buying and maintaining horse trailers.

Hate slants. I feel they mae the horse balance on two legs only, don't afford nearly as much head and neck room and if the horse(s) in the middle are in trouble you can't get to them.

Head to head any day over a slant.

CookiePony
Jul. 26, 2011, 10:08 AM
What do folks think of the Balanced Ride (http://www.balancedridetrailers.com) trailers?

dogdays
Jul. 26, 2011, 06:01 PM
My horses that scrambled in a head to head, rode much better in a slant, but one that was designed with more room than the standard slant, so they could travel with their necks be in a natural position so could be relaxed.

Equibrit
Jul. 26, 2011, 06:14 PM
Horses are built to balance back to front, not across the diagonal.

FoxChaser
Jul. 27, 2011, 08:00 AM
The Balanced Ride trailers are an interesting concept, but that sure seems like a lot of empty space to be hauling around, making the trailer that much longer.

purplnurpl
Jul. 27, 2011, 09:22 AM
What do folks think of the Balanced Ride (http://www.balancedridetrailers.com) trailers?

I think their website is bad.
I read this post and wanted to see (with ease) WHY this trailer is a "balanced ride".

They don't have any stick pictures of horses loaded in the trailer....

purplnurpl
Jul. 27, 2011, 09:27 AM
We use slant loads with extra space.

A standard slant is quite small. I bought a 4 horse and turned it into basically a two horse with storage. My slant is also fixed so that if I have only one horse I turn it around and allow it to travel backwards.

If I were to make my own trailer and could not choose a van, I would make an over sized reverse load slant. They can almost ride straight in a oversized slant.

NRB
Jul. 27, 2011, 10:39 AM
I think their website is bad.
I read this post and wanted to see (with ease) WHY this trailer is a "balanced ride".

They don't have any stick pictures of horses loaded in the trailer....

Risa posts here sometimes so maybe she will answer. But it seems to me that she's designed the trailer to have the horses travel facing backwards. that's the balanced ride. Having bought 2 Hawks from her in the past I'd also say that these trailers are highly customizeable and affordable.

equinedriver
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:36 AM
I never have and never will own a slant load.

20 years ago I had a horse come out of 2 horse inline straight load trailer going down the interstate 70 mph miraculously with no significant injuries, but it was as a result of him panicking because there was not enough room IN FRONT of the breast bar for his head and neck. The vet involved with treating him gave me a study that showed that height or even the length of the stall for the body were not factors in inducing panic in horses, just the length in front of the chest bar for the head and neck. I guess that's why they can fly them in airplanes with their ears almost touching the ceiling LOL.

Slant load trailers were pretty new then, and the study showed that injuries to horses in slant load trailers were more than 75% more likely than in straight loads and that the injuries suffered were 90% more likely to be catastrophic. Fatalities were 80% higher in the slant loads. The significant reason was a lack of breast bars in the trailers. When the brakes would get slammed on, or the trailer got hit, the horses were thrown forward with nothing to stop them and they would break their necks, backs, or suffer severe head trauma. I realize there are slant loads with mangers now to try and help with that issue, but the horses are still not as stable as riding straight.

For those of you that will ask, I have tried to find the copy of the study and looked for it on line to no avail, so I don't have a footnote for you, but the study is seared into my brain, along with the accident.

By far the safest way for a horse to ride in a trailer is backwards. They can lean back and brace on their hind legs when braking, and the movement forward when accelerating is generally much less than when braking in a sudden stop. Think about it. Is it easier for you to stop yourself by leaning back, or to hold yourself from falling forward?

I am a driver, so my dream trailer is a reverse load with the horse riding backwards over the axle. I have a head to head trailer now where he could ride backwards in the front but I absolutely will not haul a horse that is blocked in and that I can't get to or get out easily, another reason not to have a slant. If horse number 3 of 5 panics or gets in trouble, I don't want to have to unload 3 other horses to get to them. And I don't want to have to get my golf cart out of the trailer in order to get my horse out, so he rides in the back in a box stall loose. I realize there are a lot of people that think that is dangerous, but I lived in an area where I only had one show that was less than 4 hours away, the rest were all more than 10, and a horse that had ridden in a box stall for 10-15 hours arrives in better shape than one that has been locked in for that length of time. When I did the really long trips, I pulled with a motor home and it was fabulous. I would just pull in a rest area 12-14 hours in, clean his stall, put in fresh water, feed and hay and go crawl into bed.

Cameraine
Jul. 27, 2011, 12:09 PM
I have a trailer phobic horse, or rather a horse that within the space of a year turned in to trailer phobic. Before I realized my horse had an issue I got pressured in to buying a two hrs, straight load with mangers up front. Never, ever, ever again. My trailer phobic horse rode in it one time, and then I was never able to get her back in. I truly believe the trailer was too small, and the lack of head and neck room up front made her not want to get in to any trailer ever again.

I have a open stock "training" trailer, as in its okay to load and unload the horses on for training but I would never haul a horse in it. It's parked in the pasture and I've found my mare in there many times of her own free will. I have a broken ankle right now so I'm not showing, so no need to try and load my girl but I am going to be buying a new trailer in the next couple of months so that when I do get to ride, show, trailer again I will not be dealing with the trailer of death.

Right now I am looking at a 2+1 trailer. Meaning it has two straight load slots and a box stall in front of the two straights. This trailer can also have the middle divider taken out to make two box stalls. I see this as one of the best options for my space loving mare other than an open stock trailer. My second horse taught himself to trailer load and as long as there is food he'll jump on anything.

Anyone have experience with these types of trailer?

purplnurpl
Jul. 27, 2011, 12:26 PM
Risa posts here sometimes so maybe she will answer. But it seems to me that she's designed the trailer to have the horses travel facing backwards. that's the balanced ride. Having bought 2 Hawks from her in the past I'd also say that these trailers are highly customizeable and affordable.

I like companies that customize. :yes:

So it seems as though this company is another that will allow the horse to travel in reverse orientation.

purplnurpl
Jul. 27, 2011, 12:30 PM
This trailer can also have the middle divider taken out to make two box stalls. I see this as one of the best options for my space loving mare other than an open stock trailer. My second horse taught himself to trailer load and as long as there is food he'll jump on anything.

Anyone have experience with these types of trailer?

the 2 + 1 is my favorite type of trailer!

I like being about to get the horse out from either direction.

I do have issues with it though because there is very little storage and the trailer can get quite big and expensive when detailed with everything I need. booo.

pegasusmom
Jul. 27, 2011, 12:47 PM
On our second 2+1, both Equispirits who pioneered the design. LOVE them. Period. The design allows to you get to and unload any horse with out touching the other two, and the ability to take out/put in dividers accomodates the polocrosse horses (3), the eventers (2) and the driving pony (1 plus two four wheeled carriages).

I am a big fan. Note: the slant is set at a different angle and Equispirit recommended to us that we not place larger horses in the slant. Forget what the size restriction was, but it is to allow for extra head and neck space. With three equestrian disciplines we are on the road a lot and like how our horses haul.

equinedriver
Jul. 27, 2011, 12:54 PM
The 2 plus one's are my favorite "smaller" trailer and I know someone searching for a used one now. They are not easy to find. If someone knows of one that is reasonable, please PM me.

xitmom
Jul. 27, 2011, 01:24 PM
Reading some of the comments above about the impact of accidents in a slant load got me thinking. I have a 3 horse slant load gooseneck trailer. Because I have never needed to take 3 horses anywhere I have taken out one of the dividers to allow the front stall to be roomier. My horse seems happy enough in it although I have occasionally thought of putting the divider back in to give him something more to lean on. In the case of an accident, I wonder if more space (w/o the divider) is better or worse than less space (w/ the divider). Thoughts?

pheasantknoll
Jul. 27, 2011, 01:44 PM
The knowledge on this board never ceases to amaze me. Thank you very much for the information, especially on collisions.

My follow up question is : Why does everyone use slants then, and why not use stock trailers?

PKN

equinedriver
Jul. 27, 2011, 02:23 PM
The knowledge on this board never ceases to amaze me. Thank you very much for the information, especially on collisions.

My follow up question is : Why does everyone use slants then, and why not use stock trailers?

PKN

Marketing is a powerful thing.........the original idea behind the slants, I was told was the space. You can haul more horses with a shorter trailer. Then they tried to say that they rode better in a slant, but talk with any equine chiropractor that works on horses that come out of slants after long trips and I think they would say otherwise. Add in the lack of safety, and they just are not remotely on my list.

gold2012
Jul. 27, 2011, 03:11 PM
I have quick question. How wide are the inside of trailers you guys consider a box stall? Missy's horse is 17.2 short coupled. I would love to let him travel free but fear turning around might not have enough room and would get hurt.

Also, I just bought a 2 + 1, and it's 7'6 wide. Has a side ramp, is that really wide enough for the horse in frontof th other two. Doesn't seem so.

bornfreenowexpensive
Jul. 27, 2011, 04:33 PM
Anyone have experience with these types of trailer?


I have one by Adam. Great trailer and pretty affordable. It has a side ramp and back ramp and a door into the tack room from the horse area (as well as another escape door. VERY easy to work out of at shows as with the side ramp dropped, I can get in to my tack room easily from either side...and get a good air flow through the trailer.

Horses load and travel well in it. I usually only have two horses but have taken three in it on longer hauls and all shipped well.

bornfreenowexpensive
Jul. 27, 2011, 04:41 PM
I have quick question. How wide are the inside of trailers you guys consider a box stall? Missy's horse is 17.2 short coupled. I would love to let him travel free but fear turning around might not have enough room and would get hurt.

Also, I just bought a 2 + 1, and it's 7'6 wide. Has a side ramp, is that really wide enough for the horse in frontof th other two. Doesn't seem so.


I'm not sure how long mine is but the smaller "box" up front isn't big enough for my horses (works for the yearlings). I've shipped three horses in it and usually take out the divider and tie the third horse up by the head of one of the horses in the straight stalls (so they have their heads together). I shipped my 17.1 hand guy in the straight stall and tied my 16.1 hand gelding by his head (another horse was on the other side). They are buddies so fine being close although there was enough room that the 16.1 boy could get out of reach of his monster boy buddy if he wanted. Shipped great on a 12+ hour trip.

poltroon
Jul. 27, 2011, 04:46 PM
I don't think that there's enough research in this area to really "know" much of anything. The ones that suggested that horses wanted to stand on a slant didn't involve slant trailers that enforced a slant, for example.

For myself, given how much time I spend trying to make my horse work equally on both sides, putting one in a trailer to balance right front - left hind for 8 hours seems wrong.

Your standard slant is also very tightly confined for a 16h + horse. This can be ameliorated with wider trailers and different slant angles.

I like having a breast bar for the horse to lean on. I don't want them whacking their nose on the front.

Rear facing does make a lot of sense to me, because it's more likely to have a sudden stop than a sudden start. And head-to-head, given enough room, allows the horses to see each other and be a little social. I've never used one, though.

gold2012
Jul. 27, 2011, 06:23 PM
Oh yeah, also about head to heads.....we have one, thatnis, no joke, 38 years old. It is so major decrepit as to be really emabaressing going to shows, and no joke, had to park it way back in a corner at chatt hills because of how ugly it is. Also Florida horse park thought we were trail riders at CCI in April and told us we had to leave even as my daughter is saddling up in what was obviously dressage attire....but one of the reasons I hauled in it for so long, other than cost was prohibitive for what I wanted, it was awesome!

The horses facing rear came out feeling great, you could water the whole trailer easy. Getting any one horse off easy least. Put the quad in middle w room to spare. Had we had the funds, definitely would have gone that route!

poltroon
Jul. 27, 2011, 07:08 PM
The knowledge on this board never ceases to amaze me. Thank you very much for the information, especially on collisions.

My follow up question is : Why does everyone use slants then, and why not use stock trailers?

PKN

Slants are going to be the most affordable, and the shortest trailer per horse.

Out west, most of the trailers are made for quarter horses, which are smaller than our big horses. They fit better in slants, which are very popular for the QH types.

A 4 horse head to head pretty much has to be custom ordered and is going to be more expensive. And it's a much bigger trailer than a 4 horse slant.

Stock trailers are often more affordable because they have lesser suspensions than a true horse trailer. Or, they may not come with dividers. If they have the same suspension, and the same dividers, and the only difference is the windows, well, the only difference is the windows. :) And the price is similarly not that different. Pick the windows you like best.

If you want a trailer with no dividers, you can have that, or a trailer where the dividers are completely removable. I personally would not choose to transport multiple horses without dividers.

I do like the straight stall arrangement with a chest bar and butt bar. I feel it gives the horse something to lean on and a safe thing to impact if he is surprised by sudden maneuvering.

For the record, I have a straight load 2 horse gooseneck.

equinedriver
Jul. 27, 2011, 07:08 PM
Width of trailer..........mine is 8' wide because the carriages and golf cart won't fit sideways in anything narrower. I had people tell me I would hate pulling a trailer that wide, but honestly, the darn thing is 31' on the floor, so I can't see around it anyway, and I don't think 3" on each side is going to change your vision much for 30' LOL.

I have always had big horses, 16.3. The stalls are 10' long and none have any issue turning around etc. The horses that ride loose in boxes are always standing backwards when I check on them.

Will never have anything but a head to head again, unless I get my dream custom trailer with reverse load. For non-driving people that show out of their trailers there is nothing that compares. Lots of air through the trailer, can take out one horse easily, they can all see what's going on. When I travel on long hauls, (12 + hrs) they are fabulous. You can hay and water each horse, feed easily etc. They are just the best but they are long suckers.

When I get ready to sell it and get my custom trailer, given the number of head to heads I see at events, it shouldn't be hard to sell.

equinedriver
Jul. 27, 2011, 08:53 PM
One other quick note for the person asking about the ability of a large horse to turn around in the box stall. I found that even the 17 handers could turn around fairly easily in the 8 x 10 box, but a couple times I had to haul them in 8 x 7 (cutting the box off at the breast bars instead of the entire length of the stall, and that was quite a bit harder for them. They could get it done, but they didn't turn around again, usually, after they had turned to face backwards and was clearly not as comfortable.

Watermark Farm
Jul. 27, 2011, 10:16 PM
In the case of an accident, I wonder if more space (w/o the divider) is better or worse than less space (w/ the divider). Thoughts?

I recently purchased a trailer and was curious about trailer safety and accident performance of various trailer configurations from a technical large animal rescue perspective. I spoke with the head of the TLAR program at the Felton Fire Dept in CA.

One of the things he told me was that horses fare much better without dividers in the event of an accident, rollover, etc.

Cameraine
Jul. 28, 2011, 09:37 AM
the 2 + 1 is my favorite type of trailer!

I like being about to get the horse out from either direction.

I do have issues with it though because there is very little storage and the trailer can get quite big and expensive when detailed with everything I need. booo.


What kind of storage problems are you having? I have just two horses, one of them unfortunately is my trailer phobic mare, I'm hoping a box stall configuration will make her happier to ride in the trailer(If I can convince her to get in in the first place).

I do low level eventing, dressage, and trail riding, do you have storage issues because of the many things you do with your horses, or is it something else?

C.

ltmac
Jul. 28, 2011, 01:41 PM
I'm terrified of slant loads after seeing a horse try to climb out of his window; it was an awful experience to watch and help save the poor horse. I've always been a fan of my friend's four horse head-to-head. All of our horses love it!

VCT
Jul. 28, 2011, 03:56 PM
I love my 4 horse head to head. Easy to load and unload horses by myself up the side ramp and back them into the slots. Or if a horse doesn't want to back in once on the trailer, there is the option of using the rear ramp and loading like a normal 2h bp. I can also convert it into two box stalls. Did that once for a mare who seriously did not want to load, then she got right on. Otherwise, never had a problem getting horses to get on it. It's extra tall and wide and feels very open and spacious inside. Plenty of space to put things if I have a slot open. If not then I have to cram the dressing room with equipment and the bed of the truck with hay/shavings, but it works :)