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Fitting a van to transport minis

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  • Fitting a van to transport minis

    Hopefully this is the correct forum to post this thread.

    I am thinking a buying a van to transport a pair of 38" minis and haul a small close trailer for the vehicle/equipement.

    I figured that it would be comfortable for them (hard to find a good trailer for them that has good ventilation), they would have a nice ride and AC.

    I heard about it but have never seen a van redone for that purpose.

    I also don't know what kind of van would be good for that. I understand that a lot of the cargo van are rear-wheel drive and I don't see that been very practical.

    I looking for information to help decide if this is a good idea or not.

    Feel free to chime in!

  • #2
    I tote my 34" mini around in my mother in laws mini van. Although he is more like a dog than a horse.
    We take all the rear seats out except one captain seat and I always have a handler in the back seat. I put a tarp down and he does just fine!
    He self loads and unloads in and out of the side sliding door.

    This is him the day we brought him home:


    As for two minis who are a little bigger than my Ollie...maybe a 15 passenger van? And a ramp for them to load with? I'm sure you could rip the carpeting out and put mats down. Not sure if you'd want to tie them or let them just walk around....or if you'd just want a handler in the back for them with one seat.


    • Original Poster

      Too cute!

      I was thinking a cargo van. But I think they only come in RWD, they are quite sturdy though. I don't know about the suspension, if it would be comfy for them and how would a RWD would handle. Anyone with experience?

      I would fit the back of the van just for them and it would become 'their van' instead of having a trailer and a larger truck.


      • #4
        We have a RWD van. It handles fine. I would not take it out in a blizzard, but otherwise it is a great, practical vehicle. We don't carry minis in it, but it was used to tow our 2 horse trailer for years. It is still my mom's main driving vehicle as it can hold so much stuff
        Impossible is nothing.


        • #5
          We have an ancient mini van that my husband is unexplainably, irrationally attached to. I keep saying that I'm going to get some minis plus a cart or wagon and haul them around in that when I am too old for a riding horse and big truck and trailer. Or I will soon start to use it to haul our pigs!!!
          "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


          • #6
            I used to have alpacas and used a '98 Dodge 2500 cargo van (I didn't need the extra power, that's just what it was). I put a rubber truck bed mat on the floor to prevent slipping (TSC $70?). The van had originally been a refrigeration delivery company work van and already had a divider between the driver/passenger seats and the cargo area. My friend bought a new cargo van and had a divider with a lockable door put in--VERY handy! To the divider I attached a box fan that plugged into the cigarette lighter (the AC didn't work and alpacas get very hot) and bungeed a bucket for water. If I was travelling more than 30-60 min, I'd put in some hay. I also used a bale of hay/straw to fill up the side door well so no one could get a foot stuck. At my house I had a steep hill that I'd back up to so the 'pacas could walk right on (think loading dock), elsewhere they'd just jump in and out or I'd give them a boost. I could fit 4 adults fine, so for 2 mini-horses it would be roomy. You could even cut down a cattle panel and attach it to the wall supports to divide the van in half and use the other half for gear I got mine with 180,000 miles for $400. It was 2 wheel drive, which was fine except in snow and mud. I wish I had taken pictures... Oh, if I had to buy one again, I would want a side door with windows and cargo space windows that open. I also know a lot of 'paca people who use their minivans, they take out the seats put tarps or mats with bedding over the carpet, and when possible put a dog guard between the front and back (some 'pacas would try to drive otherwise). Heck, before the van, in an emergency I'd put crias in the back of my CRV to take them to the vet--they never complained (well, except for the vet part!).
            "A good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service." Plutarch


            • Original Poster

              That's the downside of a van it does not come in anything but RWD, at least I have not seen one listed. Perhaps the smaller one but not the bigger ones. I thought that the A/C would reach in the back though. It doesn't?

              I definitively want a side door because I am planning to put my pair vehicle in a little enclosed cargo trailer that the van will pull. I need to be able to take the critters out without unhitching the trailer. I wish vans came in 4WD !

              I will have to find solution to patch the walls because minis can get into all kind of trouble!


              • #8
                There are several models of vans that come in All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions. I actually prefer AWD.

                "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


                • Original Poster

                  Which ones? We have been looking at cargo and passengers van that come on at least a 1/2 ton truck frame and I could not find one with AWD. I must have missed it. Can you tell me the make and model?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Broff View Post
                    I thought that the A/C would reach in the back though. It doesn't?
                    My van's AC was broken so it didn't work for anyone In my friends van it worked, but the barrier, though it is a metal mesh, blocks a lot of the cool air and you'd have to be willing to freeze to keep them comfortable. He was very impressed with my fan hook-up and started doing the same, which also helped pull the AC into the back. Also, alpacas get A LOT hotter than horses when they are in fleece, so what is comfortable for a horse would still be hot to an alpaca. If you had a dog style barrier or vents in the back (like a newer minivan), the AC'd probably be fine.

                    For just a pair of mini's a minivan should be sufficient--don't they come in AWD?
                    "A good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service." Plutarch


                    • Original Poster

                      Yes they do, it is me who did not look properly! What kind of fan did you use?


                      • #12
                        Some of the minivans come with seats that fold flat so the whole back can be cargo. Think you can buy rubberized mats with lips along the side to fit. Have also metal dividers that can be put in easily and taken out easily.


                        • #13
                          Does anyone haul minis in a livestock truck box? http://www.fthr.com/truck-box-livest...ock-truck-box/ They are for hauling sheep, goats, hogs, calves, large dogs- why not minis? Then you could have a 4wd truck that you could take this box out of and use for other things.


                          • #14
                            My friend hauls her mini in the back of her regular SUV. For the wedding, I hauled him in my regular stock trailer, and it was ridiculous. tbh, I'd have been better off just having him hop into the back of my RAV4 !


                            • #15
                              We bought our 2005 Chevy Express extended cargo van specifically with the idea of transporting our minis, although it doubles for hauling musical equipment, garden plants, furniture, building supplies, and a Great Pyrenees puppy, and serves as our camping van. It excels at all of the above, and I would highly recommend it. In horse mode, it is truly a mini horse hauler. Perhaps the greatest benefit is being able to see your horse and know that they are riding comfortably.

                              We previously used a Ford Windstar, which was only marginally acceptable. After using both, I'd say there is only one mini van that is practical for mini/pony transport, and that is the old GMC Safari/Chevy Astro.

                              First of all, AVOID AT ALL COSTS the dreaded church van -- vehicles whose back ends extend far beyond a short wheel base, creating a dangerous, hard-to-control vehicle notorious for rollover accidents.

                              The Express extended van has a long wheelbase, making for a very stable vehicle, even with a moving animal inside. This also helps make it a safe tow vehicle (along with a powerful engine).

                              We also insisted upon a metal bulkhead/safety barrier, protecting those in the passenger compartment.

                              While ours came with a rubber mat, it is in no way adequate for even mini horse hooves and will do nothing to control "accidents." We put mats in on top of this, with shavings on top to absorb liquids. It can be fragrant at times, but since when do horses smell?

                              Two of our minis are 38 inches, one 36 inches, and none have a problem hopping in. We borrowed a wheelchair ramp, thinking they'd need it, but each was terrified -- they much prefer to jump. We are extremely careful to find a soft, non-slippery area for unloading -- you definitely don't want them jumping onto asphalt or cement or wet ground. Flooring inside the van also has to allow for this.

                              Be careful about air circulation and temperature. We have no windows in back, so we monitor closely and keep front windows open and fans blowing in warm weather. The bulkhead is expanded metal, so even though we freeze, our passengers in back stay comfortable. We plan on installing side vents, but for now we are just extra diligent.

                              The cargo area is, I believe, 6'x10', possibly longer. It's a good amount of room. We plan on installing a swinging divider to make two stalls, but for now we transport one at a time. An important consideration when hauling more than one is keeping them away from the door well. We have a wall at the back creating a tack/feed/cart area, or in an emergency, a third stall. Every summer we go for a beach-driving weekend, and once we arrive, the van is converted into a camper. It's a bit of a pain, but it all works.

                              Here is a photo of Mingus next to his limo. Somewhere I have a photo of him inside, but for now...
                              They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                              Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Broff View Post
                                Which ones? We have been looking at cargo and passengers van that come on at least a 1/2 ton truck frame and I could not find one with AWD. I must have missed it. Can you tell me the make and model?
                                The Chevy Express, as mentioned above, and the GMC Savana have AWD options. Also the Toyota Sienna, though it may be more of a passenger minivan style that what you seem to want.

                                "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                                - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


                                • #17
                                  Go to miniature horse talk: lots of threads about this.






                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Renae View Post
                                    Does anyone haul minis in a livestock truck box? http://www.fthr.com/truck-box-livest...ock-truck-box/ They are for hauling sheep, goats, hogs, calves, large dogs- why not minis? Then you could have a 4wd truck that you could take this box out of and use for other things.
                                    There are manufacturers for mini horse truck inserts:



                                    • Original Poster

                                      A few come with AWD, it was me who cannot read!

                                      I am iffy about those hauler for the back of the truck, how do you get them up there and it must be awfully tight. But I have no experience and have never seen it, so not for me to speak.

                                      So an extended van, with long wheel base, windows that could create a cross breeze would be ideal, along with fans, I am thinking thin rubber mats to put on the walls if there are pockets.

                                      What about the high top vans, they would give more head room? Are they too tippy?

                                      Do you do something about the wheel wells?


                                      • #20
                                        The Horse Hauler by Bob inserts seem to work great for A-sized minis, as their weight is, for the most part, below the side walls of the truck bed. I have always thought that a B-sized mini would place the center of gravity too high for safety -- just my opinion based upon eyeball engineering, but I tend to trust my instincts. I would have my doubts that a big B like yours (and mine) would be comfortable or fit at all. Jumping in requires extra headroom in addition to what they need when inside.

                                        Those high top vans are great -- if you can afford one. They are extremely expensive, even used. I've heard of people using them as mini transport and haven't heard that they are tippy. I think the extension is fairly lightweight. I'd love to have one, if for no other reason than I am about an inch too tall to stand up straight in our Express van, and my husband doesn't even come close.

                                        Matting in the walls is an excellent idea! The cargo vans are built with exposed bracing/ribs, which allow you to attach almost anything.

                                        Be cautious with windows, especially with a horse large enough to kick up his or her heels to window height. You can get grids to cover them, and it is nice to have some daylight in back. One friend found a van with windows on the back end only, in her tack area, but they don't open. You might also consider sunroofs or moonroofs. Two would provide great ventilation and they can be added aftermarket. The ones that lift (rather than sliding) do a better job of keeping rain out while driving.

                                        I keep going around and around with the wheel well issue. My husband votes for a piece of wood 2x8 or whatever fits, cut to fit the shape, with feet added underneath to raise it even with the floor, held in place by the door. I keep think we could attach something to the doors (we have swing-out doors, which I prefer to a slider) that would keep them away from the well. This, however, would narrow the entry point unless it were hinged in some way, which begins to exceed our limited mechanical abilities. I would love to hear any combined COTH brilliance on this matter!

                                        Another thing I continue to ponder (I spend way too much time pondering EVERYTHING!) is how to install the divider in order to allow room for both horses to jump in. One thought is to hang a mesh mini stall door in the front corner behind the driver so that the divider could swing against the safety barrier while loading the first horse, then lock into place and still allow room for the second horse to jump in. Another idea would be to hang the same type divider on the passenger side, with the gate swinging out while loading the first horse, then angling in to close, giving the horse a bigger space to jump into. Again, brilliant ideas are more than welcome!
                                        They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                                        Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth