IMHO it depends what you tow with. If you have a pickup or similar with rear suspension designed for carrying loads in the bed or on the hitch I don't think you'll see much difference. If you have an SUV with rear suspension designed to keep rear seat passengers comfortable over speed bumps then a weight distributing hitch, with or without sway control would be a good thing.
If they come with the trailer you might as well use them regardless though.
I don't have sway bars and I tow a 2 horse with dressing room bumper pull. I have a 2500 crew cab with a 6.5 foot bed so a fairly long truck.
My friend has a regular 2500 pick-up truck (no extended cab or crew cab) with a standard 8 foot bed and an 2 horse with dressing room and the horse compartment has an extra foot of length. Short truck with extra long trailer. She just recently had sway bars installed. It was recommended for her since her trailer is so long and her truck has a fairly short wheelbase. Her truck is also about 15 years older than mine.
I have towed with two different 1500 extended cab pick-ups and right as they were getting to the 100,000 mile mark I was considering getting sway bars but sold the trucks instead. I found that as the trucks got higher mileage the back end got a little looser and felt less stable when towing.
With my current truck/trailer set-up I have never felt like I needed any extra stability.
I also would probably only want to deal with sways if I was towing longer hauls on bigger highways with lots of tractor/trailers. I would not want to have to deal with the hitch for local hauls.
Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)
I sold my trailer a few years ago- but when I had it I had them and used them 90% of the time. Two horse with dressing room and a 2500 diesel. I thought it pulled better with them. If I was just running two miles down the street to a lesson or to cross country school sometimes I would not bother with them. Going anything past that however- I always used them. They came with the trailer however and the hitch- so I didn't really have a reason not to- other than when I was running late (oh and sometimes they made me swear to put on.)
ETA based on pictures below- I had the weight distribution bars.
Last edited by 4Martini; Oct. 8, 2013 at 12:22 AM.
We have sway bars we use when pulling our camper. I have towed a bumper pull trailer for the last 20 something years and never had the need to use sway bars. We always use a 3/4 ton pickup to pull so that might make a difference.
Yes, I got them with my first (used) 2H BP in 1980. I was towing with a used '78 Chevy Impala station wagon that had zero add ons in the way of towing packages, it was a used Hertz car. I put 100k miles on that wagon, a fair chunk of those miles pulling the trailer, then sold it to some guys who turned it into a D.C. taxi cab.
I kept the sway bars and used them on my 1985 Ford F-150. And all these years later I am still using them on my 'new' (now 1.5 years old) 2H BP, warmblood size w/tack room, pulled by my 1998 F250 that has 196k miles on it. People laugh, say geez you don't need the bars on that towing vehicle, but you know, they still save lots of wear and tear (still using the original transmission for example) and in these parts, they make for a MUCH easier and safer drive in the variety of weather and terrain we have. For example, when I hauled two horses 300 miles south a couple of weeks ago, we had high wind alerts- 45-50 mph cross winds on the interstate, the sort of scenario where semis and RVs can, and do, get blown off the highway. They also provide much good stability and peace of mind in rain, snow and ice.
I will also add an important but, it seems, often overlooked detail- it levels the trailer that the horses are riding in for, in my case, hours on end a lot of the time. I see a lot of trailers going down the road that, when hooked to trucks, slope downward front to back, and when hooked to SUVs (in one case a DVM hauling!) slope horribly back to front- as in, you are going to drag chains on the ground and/or hit the ground with that hitch if you hit a pothole or a big bump.
Edited to add- as between the two photo examples provided a couple of posts up, you would call mine 'weight distribution bars.' Never tried what's in the other picture, and indeed the main purpose of my bars is to throw more weight back onto the trailer off the rear of the towing vehicle- but I do observe (in that wind!) that they do also have a considerable 'anti sway' benefit.
Last edited by Beverley; Oct. 7, 2013 at 04:14 PM.
Reason: Added point
When I had the two-horse and 4-horse, bumper pull trailers, pickup, I ALWAYS used the sway bars. Even with small Western horses, it made a noticeable difference in trailer handling. Kept the trailer from being "swatted" to one side when semi trucks passed, reduced the sway if horses moved around. Didn't matter the size of my truck, the sway bars MADE an improvement in trailer and truck handling. NEVER any light feeling in the front end of truck or steering, which is what the bars are supposed to do.
I considered buying the sway bars, having trailers fitted so bars could be used, taking that extra 30 seconds to put them on when hitching, WELL WORTH the money to purchase and effort to do them up.
Maybe my using the sway bars EVERY TIME we took the trailer, made me notice how MUCH not having them on friends trailers affected handling when I rode with them.
I have gooseneck trailers now, like how they handle over bumper pulls.
I have a Silverado 1500 that I pull my Elite 2 horse w/dressing room. Always had weight distribution bars on my hitch. Well worth it. Perhaps I wouldn't need them with a bigger truck, but an ounce of prevention.......
Depends. My 2 horse Moritz stock is very stable. No sway, no rock even with unruly big horses, high winds, semis, whatever. My RV is a different story. Much bigger, 33' with WD witch and sway bar adjusted properly. Without those it'd be in a ditch in a hurry.