step up trailers
I'm thinking of getting a stock type trailer. Right now I have a trailer with a ramp load, but am considering a step up. My question is. What is the average height of a step up from the ground? One trailer that I'm looking at measures 18 inches from the ground, which to me, seems high. Are they all that high?
The height of pretty much depends on where you park it- on a nice level parking lot I'd say it's about a 18" but parking it in field or something can really change that. Sometimes it's a huge step, sometimes a small one. My horses don't seem to have any objection either way
The height can also depend on the size of tires on the trailer. Bigger tires make it sit higher by a few inches...
I hate step ups. I ran into a ton of trouble with the "Step Down" backwards part and tall horses hitting their heads. Had to fabricate a ramp until we could trade for a ramp trailer. Just a consideration. We had a lower step before and no problems because the horses came out at a much flatter angle.
thanks for your replys. I am still thinking. big decision on whether I want a straight load or slant
This same situation was our problem with the stock trailer. Even the VERY tall horse couldn't reach the ground when being backed out, so we put a ramp on the stock trailer.
Originally Posted by SmartAlex
Stock trailer height is a LOT higher than a true horse trailer step-up height. We never had an issue backing horses out of the 2H step-up, but taller horse was too big to fit in it. Couldn't shut the back door!! So needing a bigger trailer in height, length, is why we got the stock trailer.
I really do NOT like having horses jump out of trailers, have always insisted they back out quietly. When the big horse couldn't even reach the ground (she really tried), had to be turned around and jumped out. Husband had the ramp built and on the trailer by the next weekend, for all our safety taking her places. Trailer is a great one now, with the ramp on.
My old stock trailer (SnH) has a very low step up. I'd say 12 inches or less...but I'd have to measure to be sure. Horse load great on it, and I always turn the horses around and make them walk out. Most just step down, don't really jump out.
All our trailers have been step up/down and have not had any problems at all with any horse, ever.
Long ago, in the East, most vans had ramps by necessity, it was a long way up there.
Then, short trailers also had ramps, where it was not necessary, really.
When hauling young horses that had not been handled before or not much or trailered, they didn't have problems getting in a step up, but did with ramps.
With ramps, we had horses slip here and there and some have problems stepping down them.
One horse stepped sideways, slipped off the side with a hind leg, hit a groom standing there.
This just to show you that there are all kinds of experiences out there, for and against anything.
I would get what you are the most comfortable with.
You can watch where your trailer is to have the back end be as low as you can have it to step off, just as you have to watch to be where it is level if you use a ramp, don't want it wobbling on uneven ground.
Nothing but step-ups here and never a problem. We watch where we park so it's not a cliff jump but even when we've had spots where short little me had to grab a handhold to get in the horses still hop right in no problem.
But we don't back our horses out-with an open 20 X 7+ feet space there's no sense in backing them out. We turn them around and lead them out.
Step up vs. ramp is one of those Coke/Pepsi, Ford/Chevy, etc. questions.
I've had both; I prefer the step up. We've never had any injury with step up; had a couple minor "scrapes" with the ramp.
While I would say that step-up trailers are often easier for horses to "understand", the only thing I would caution against is somewhere, sometime, you might have a horse that has been injured or otherwise compromised movement-wise. And for those horses, a step-up is not a good thing. BTDT. If you've ever had to haul a neurologically affected horse to a veterinary hospital, you will understand why. If you have access to a ramp-load trailer if such an occasion arises, then go for the step-up. If not, I would always get a ramp-load.
You have cited the one time that the ramp can make an operational difference. Got to concede the point on that. ;)
Originally Posted by Kimstar
I think it's personal preference.
However, I think that I prefer a ramp with a trailer that has a living quarters and thus is built higher off the ground. i think it's a lot to ask a horse to step up 18 inches onto a trailer.
I've never had a ramp, never wanted one. My current merhow is fairly tall, and we park where it's either level or angled in their favor. Heck my 15/2 hand Chip CANTERS into it from a halt. Can't be TOO tall LOL. I get tickled at the idea that a horse can't step up 18". They JUMP 5' ;)
They learn to reaacccch and think when backing up. and take their time with a verbal "STEP" from me to aid them. Never unload on a slick surface...shod feet on slick asphalt= wreck. When I can I let the front horse in the 3H turn around and hop out on a long lead...
As to the OP’s question 18 maybe on the high side but not unusual IME. I would think with stock trailers this would be on the norm side of things. Stock trailer are built with the idea of being able to pick up and transport all of kinds of livestock. Be it a level field, parking lot and also have the clearance to be hauled into varying terrain without getting hung up.
Horse designed step ups can be had with a much lower “step up”. But you have to be careful when hauling them into a field.
Ramp or Step Up IMO comes down the horses being loaded, work with. IME horses especially young ones (first timers) always seem to load easier with a step up. But we do not transport any of our horses in an “open space” trailer of any kind. So turning them around is not always an option in a lot of “stall” horse trailers.
And as others have said backing some off can be very problematic. Scraped shins, falling due to a awkward placement of their first foot, scared, put you self in their place, get up on a ladder close your eyes and back down. Some people are good with it others no so much.
Kimstar made a very good point. Try loading a young 2 year old on a step up with a paralyzed front leg, any leg for that matter. A horse that has injured a tendon, ankle, nasty abbess or any number of things that makes it only able to bear weight on 3 legs. A none displaced fracture that that I would like to keep from displacing.
Try loading a mare and young foal into a step up with only 2 people. It’s not easy for one person to control and push a foal up a ramp. Not easy when they are bigger and just freeze. Lifting one up into a step up is a real PIA. Though some just hop right on and jump right off.
I have had to deal with all of the above. So for me and our operation if I could only have one it would be a ramp. No question.
But, what I have found to be one of the most important things with a ramp trailer especially when working with young horses, first timers, and older ones at times is the quality of the ramp.
Horses by nature do not like to step on “soft” or “squishy” things. It goes against their instincts. I have found that a lot of trailer ramps, I assume due to weight, have a LOT of flex to them. And of course the “hollow” sound. IMO and experience both of these make for problematic loading. Especially first timers, novices.
I “MacGyvered” beefed up the ramp on a trailer and the horses loaded MUCH easier. My study was certainly not “scientific” in scale and scope but enough to convince me it would be worth paying to modify the ramp properly. And or when buying another one make sure the ramp is very stout.
My ideal trailer for my operation would be a 4 horse head to head. Step up straight rear load and ramps on both sides. Even fully loaded a horse can be turned around in the middle walked off the back if the side ramps were not available or the horse did not like ramps.
As always to each their own.
As far as horses slipping when unloading, I have seen that happen on step down and ramp trailers, because both are a change and some horses tend to scramble a bit, if it is stepping down or going down a ramp and then hitting solid ground.
Decades ago, we had a larger foal get kicked or hit his shoulder point, so he lost use of one front leg.
To load him to take to the vet, the vet wanted to x-ray him, the vet looped a rope around the ankle and helped him as he hopped up there with his dam.
We did the same for him to hop off, we were helping slow him down and support him.
He was fine after some days and nothing was broken.
I don't think there is anyone around here that has a ramp trailer, all are step ups.
The reason I was thinking of a step up is because one of my horses flies off the trailer before I can get the ramp up. She used to be good about trailering,but a few years ago she did a complete turn around. I have worked with her and can get her on a step up and get the gate shut, take her for a ride, take her off and put her back on, but with a ramp load, no luck. I have thought about a ramp over barn door type of trailer. That way I can close the dor before she backs out and them raise the ramp.
I have a step up stock trailer, maybe about 12 inches. I much prefer them. The only real trouble I've had is with ramps where the horses slip off.
Every horse I've put in there, from baby to 18.1 hand has been able to step back slowly and figure it out. They can turn around, but I don't teach them that as a first thing because once they learn to step back and down, they deal fine.
I think horses understand the step up better. And I don't like that heavy ramp and putting it up.
Yup, I know the drill well. A ramp has to be well choreographed. Doors are much easier. But a heavy well made ramp that is properly “engineered” should lift with little to no effort if properly counterbalanced. But I have yet to afford that luxury.
Originally Posted by sonata
I’m no Monty Roberts, well, not smart enough to have videoed, promote, tour and laughed all the way to the bank about things that were taught to me and just assumed everybody did “it” that way.
That being said getting on a trailer with “no worries” is IMO as “101” as cross tying. With any horse older then 2. I expect my somewhat older horses, not necessarily young TB racers to walk up, ramp or step, shank over their withers and a pat on the butt. Stand while the butt bar is being secured. If not I’ll put in the time and work until they do.
This is fundamental IMO.
Personally I think step ups suite the majority of horse owners. I have no doubts that the majority of horses deal with them just fine. Regardless of height.
From my time spent loosely around horses in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico. Step up rule. Not sure if I ever saw anything but.
Originally Posted by Bluey
Definitely a western “thing”. In the east, where everything “west” is derived from as a “natural progression” of “things”. Ramps are more the “norm” because of the “human”, “intuitive” way of looking at things then the way a horse looks at “things”.
And because Horse Vans, Horse Boxes as they are called on the other side of the pond, the place where just about all things horse were imported to the colonies were devolved long before trailers came along. Step up or Ramp.
As I said in my first post, horses seem to load easier regardless of age on a step up IME. But I firmly believe this is because of the fact they are stepping on to a “firm surface”. Verses a “flimsy” ramp.
IME horses tend to “slip” or have mishaps far more on ramps then step ups. Getting off or on. But a lot trailer ramps have crappy “ramp mats”. Especially ones that have some age to them. The vast majority are made of synthetic “rubber” that gets hard and slippery with age.
I love a horse that obviously has “experience”, “smarts‘, getting off a ramp trailer. They tend to stand on their toes when getting off. Gives them much better “purchase”.
They go on the “A” list starting out.