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What factors affect horses ride in a trailer?

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  • What factors affect horses ride in a trailer?

    What factors affect the horses ride in a trailer? And how does each factor affect ride?

    Placement of axles?
    Floor type?
    Truck type? (the way the hitch is supported and how it moves?)
    Support in floors?
    Flexing of the trailer?
    "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

    "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x

  • #2
    Originally posted by Stacie View Post
    What factors affect the horses ride in a trailer? And how does each factor affect ride?

    Placement of axles?
    Floor type?
    Truck type? (the way the hitch is supported and how it moves?)
    Support in floors?
    Flexing of the trailer?
    The cowboys around here load their horses in the trailer in the am, go from here to there to there checking cattle, roping and doctoring some and finally unload them some time in the pm.
    If they have a long day they may even stop to eat at noon at a cafe.
    The horses get water offered at every tank they ride by, but had breakfast and will have supper when home again.
    There may be a field where the horse may get to graze for a while hobbled, as the cowboy may be doing something else right then.
    Generally they don't use the same horse two days in a row and the hard roping is seasonal, when cattle come in, for a few weeks, then rarely.

    In all that hauling, they will tell you that single axle trailers, that drag much better in the mud and turn well in narrow roads are harder on the horses.
    Other than that, there don't seem to be a difference from torsion axle to springs.

    Horses seem to ride better in gooseneck trailers, so even those with shorter stock trailers now prefer them, bumper pulls seem to bounce around more.
    I am not sure the spacing of the supports would have much to do with how horses ride.

    I would say that is definitely not your every day hauling on smooth highways at a steady speed, which may have other considerations, but I don't think horses generally are hauled around regularly like that many days, all day.


    • #3
      I think the most important factor is how one drives. If you drive too fast and drive like a maniac then the horses will not do well no matter how nice the trailer is built. Careful driving is the best thing to do to keep your horses comfortable in the trailer.


      • #4
        Next would be how much room inside the horse has to stand in. Width of stall, full or partial divider, head room, length for the body. I want just a divider, be it a bar, or plank, so horses can spread out their feet and legs. I have never seen a full divider that doesn't have scrape marks from some animal who could not spread legs wide enough. More space in a stall for horse is usually better unless it is a foal or very small pony. Then I probably would stick a straw bale behind, for them to back up to, use their hind end to lean against.

        Mine are always hauled tied, I don't want them wandering while in transit, trying to get a head over a divider or turn around.

        Good footing that doesn't get slippery, even when they pee on it. So sawdust or shavings, even sandy dirt, gives them a grip on rubber mats. I don't haul on naked boards, plain metal floors.

        Horses are adaptable, and while the features you name are important, they are not usually a critical issue in choosing a trailer. I have hauled horses in the back of a pickup truck, a 4-horse bumper pull, gooseneck stock trailer, semi truck horse trailer with stalls, nice 5th wheel Featherlight with heads facing backwards. Horses are comfortable in the stalls, in any of the trailers. We drive with consideration for them, they travel well in all the vehicles, arrive in good shape. Horses in the pickup did fine, had nosebags, put a lot of miles in using that rig.

        We now prefer a gooseneck or 5th wheel hitch over a bumper pull. Gives the hammock ride between the axles of tow vehicle and trailer, suspended in travel. Horses over the axles get a bit rougher ride. The torsion axles help a bit there. Good mats for cushioning.

        Bad roads are the worst feature we deal with. Michigan roads are in terrible shape with semi truck overloading really damaging them.


        • #5

          I think most all trailers are just fine.
          It's critical that the trailer be balanced on it's wheels level when it's attached to the tow vehicle. A LOT of trailers are not. You see trailers leaning back on their hind wheels on both goosenecks and pull behinds.

          But most critical is the driving methods. Turns MUST be slow & steady as horses are not stable side to side. Better so front to back so stopping & starting slow & steady important but might not throw the horse to the floor as easily as a fast, jerky turn will. Slowing down on bumpy roads important. And unfortunately, once a scrambler; always a scrambler!!


          • #6
            I had a very experienced horseman tell me long ago, when I first started hauling my own horses, that if you want to do a good job hauling horses, then ride in the trailer a couple of times, without the horses of course.

            It will give you a whole new perspective on what they have to deal with on a trip and will influence how you drive.
            I am trying to be the person my horse thinks I am.


            • #7
              The big pro rigs around here have air-ride suspensions. They have a lot of give and smooth out a bumpy ride pretty well.
              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
              Incredible Invisible


              • #8
                Originally posted by 4whitefeet View Post
                I had a very experienced horseman tell me long ago, when I first started hauling my own horses, that if you want to do a good job hauling horses, then ride in the trailer a couple of times, without the horses of course.

                It will give you a whole new perspective on what they have to deal with on a trip and will influence how you drive.
                HAHA! This made me think of my adventure the other week, with the boss at the wheel!

                He lost a shoe mid way through hunting, and had me run out with the rig to pick him up and switch horses. We put the lost shoe horse in and followed the hounds back down the road to the next draw, WHILE I WAS IN THE TRAILER, TRYING to untack one horse and tack the other one up. You want to talk about amusement park ride, and an unsafe one at that? He was going waaaay too fast on bumpy back roads. I was laughing hysterically at how stupid the whole thing was. What a story. This was in an almost 30 ft long gooseneck and it was still bumpy as hell. I can't imagine being in a bumper pull while driving like that!!

                Totally makes one aware of how their driving affects their live cargo. It is damn hard to keep your balance when you have nothing to brace against.


                • #9
                  For those who say that suspension doesn't matter to the horse's ride, you need to try riding in a rig that HAS a suspension system. There's a cool video online of a Brenderup salesperson riding in the back of a Brenderup going 40 mph on a gravel road, and she puts a wine glass on the floor. The liquid barely even shakes. Try that in a regular bumper pull traileR!

                  That said, I agree with others that good driving, a balanced trailer, and room to paw/stretch out legs forward of the chest bar are paramount; I personally don't like slant loads because they don't offer a front chest bar for the horse to lean/brace on. I also think horses appreciate a bright trailer with good ventilation, preferably with windows only in front of their eye line. I haven't yet met a horse that objected to a "regular" bumper pull or gooseneck trailer that met those criteria.
                  Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                  • #10
                    They have to have a place to put their head down to snort & clear their airway throughout the ride. I'd never use a trailer with mangers.
                    I also think stall size & light inside trailer color helps. Also plenty of air.
                    Producing horses with gentle minds & brilliant movement!


                    • #11
                      Driver. If you have to wake the horses up to unload, you are a good driver.


                      • #12
                        How you drive has the biggest influence on how well a horse hauls. Most other conditions are "adaptable".


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. I really thought it was going to be more complicated :-)
                          "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

                          "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x