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Trailer and vehicle to haul it...

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  • Trailer and vehicle to haul it...

    I am sort of thinking of buying a trailer, and am a complete neophyte...

    I want something to haul one fairly large horse.

    Do I have to get a truck or will a car-like-object do the trick?

    How much will I need to spend on the trailer--(used is fine)

    What else should I keep in mind?


  • #2
    I'm a believer in bigger is better, because in our experience, there have been times when we've been very happy to have MORE truck, and do not wish to ever have less truck than we need. So, for us, 3/4 ton or better unless someone is hauling a brenderup, where you can get away with less.

    The most inexpensive scenario is probably buying a used proper truck (4WD is helpful) and a used stock trailer or the like. We sold our well-used stock trailer with the hitch for $2K and it was serviceably sound but not particularly attractive. A coat of paint would have made it attractive.

    There are a lot of good deals on used trucks right now, as a lot of people are selling larger, older vehicles and getting more fuel efficient commuter vehicles. We have smaller vehicles for commuting and use the truck for hauling and farm work. Check Craigslist and be sure to have it properly inspected.

    Please, please, please stay away from car-like objects
    They're small hearts.


    • #3
      Trixie is right. We started with a half ton, then 3/4 ton and ended up with a 1 ton single axle 4WD Ford diesel and I love it. You may not think you need that big a truck or a diesel, but when you are 1) Pulling out of a gas station and you have to merge onto a highway, you can't have too much truck .We haul 2 horses, hay, shavings and all the "stuff" and let me tel you, in those situations , I can't have too much truck especially if traffic is heavy. 2) Pulling in mountains on uphill grades, the diesel is fabulous. 3) 4WD for all those less than ideal parking situations at muddy schoolings and shows, when you need it, you REALLY need it. Besides, you may at some point get another horse or a bigger trailer and then you will definitely have to have more truck.


      • #4
        My advice: buy the trailer first, especially if you're going used. That way you'll know how much truck you need. If you happen to find an aluminum 2h in the right size, then you'll be okay with a 3/4 ton, but if you fall in love with a 2h slant load bumper pull made mostly of steel...you'll need the 1 ton.

        I got a used truck and trailer for $3k each; paid too much for the trailer and made out like a bandit on the truck. It'll depend entirely on your area and how much looking you want to do - I spent easily 7 months looking for my truck. My only, only complaint is that it's a 2WD, and like riderboy says, when you need a 4WD, you REALLY need it.

        Get a copy of "The Complete Guide Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer" by Neva and Thomas Scheve. It is a superb book. There are also some checklists in Cherry Hill's book on horse trailers, called I think "Trailering Your Horse" that I used when shopping for a truck and trailer - I made copies of them and they were a great reminder of what to ask and look at.
        life + horses


        • #5
          Do NOT pull a horse trailer with a car or car like object.

          You can pull with a 1/2 ton truck. I did it for quite some time, an old HEAVY Tahoe (very different from the new ones) and an F150. It works fine. But it will kill your transmission and your suspension. So if you don't want to be buy new trannies all the time, just get the 3/4 ton. I traded in for a 3/4 ton diesel and am never going back. Even though I usually only haul one horse in a bumper pull, it's a world of difference plus I don't lose money getting 8 mpg towing anymore.

          I find that where I am 2WD/4WD doesn't matter too much. I traded in the 4x4 for a 2WD actually. I get slightly better mileage on the 2WD, less front end issues, it's cheaper and in my climate, I never need it. The only place I might get stuck is a muddy horse show parking, but if that happens, well, you are surrounded by trucks and tractors, you will be extricated in short order.
          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
          We Are Flying Solo


          • #6
            Originally posted by kerlin View Post
            My advice: buy the trailer first, especially if you're going used. That way you'll know how much truck you need. If you happen to find an aluminum 2h in the right size, then you'll be okay with a 3/4 ton, but if you fall in love with a 2h slant load bumper pull made mostly of steel...you'll need the 1 ton.
            Um, not true in average conditions, especially with a later model truck that's properly equipped for towing.

            A newer half ton with a big engine and appropriate upgrades for towing can handle your average 2H BP no problem. Most trailers of that size are rated for 7000-7500lbs and a properly equipped half ton at 8500lbs. For one horse, local hauling you would be fine.

            If you're towing in more extreme conditions (i.e. mountains, very long hauls), then an upgrade to a 3/4 ton makes sense.

            Your average 3h does NOT need a 1ton, unless you have a big living quarters etc.
            "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."


            • #7
              Get the book mentioned above, and go by the numbers. If you get the trailer first (a good idea, but when shopping used, you may have to jump on a deal of a truck first...), do the math and figure out what the tow capacity on the truck will have to be.

              If you get the truck, know the max weight the trailer can be empty and don't look at anything heavier than that.

              You have to do a little research to get the numbers right. Whatever you do, don't rely on what a dealer (truck) tells you. Often they have no idea. I heard the most interesting things when I was shopping!!!

              The 1/2 ton vs 3/4 ton stuff is a bit hard to nail down -- the various options on trucks make this really, really varied. I have a heavy duty 1/2 ton with a big engine and a good rear axle ratio, 4wd, tow package, beefed up everything. It is rated to tow higher than a stripped down 3/4 ton of the same make/model year. So get ALL the details on engine, transmission, tow package, rear axle ratio, etc etc. and then do the calculations.

              4wd vs 2wd seems to come down to where you are and what you do -- we have this debate on here all the time. If you dont' need 4wd, it's cheaper, better gas mileage, etc etc to go 2wd.
              If I had 2wd I couldn't even get my trailer out of its parking space all winter long.
              The big man -- my lost prince

              The little brother, now my main man


              • #8
                I have a 2WD Dogde 1500 and it's ok, but not great. I take my trailer out about once a month and do not generally drive more than 45 min away, usually 10 miles to Fair Hill.

                My ex-fiance was the one to pick the truck out and thought 2WD would be just fine....a month after we got the truck and trailer, we went to our first show and got stuck in the mud. We parked in designated parking for the trailer, not a field or anything, and it was winter. It just warmed up enough that day to turn the ice/dirt into mud.

                Another friend would pull her trailer to a dry spot before loading her horse. Even going to Fair Hill where the parking areas are gravel/stone dust, I am really careful about where I park. I also think I have more wear and tear on the truck due to the size and am saving up for at least a 4WD, if not a 2500 or bigger.

                As far as the trailer goes - depending on the size of your horse, you may want to look into a two horse stock. I just haul one horse around and she loves it. A bigger horse may feel less claustrophobic in it.


                • #9
                  Depends what you mean by "carlike"
                  I tow with a 3/4 ton Suburban (with the factory installed tow package and 4WD). This carlike vehicle does just fine towing (and most importantly stopping) an aluminum with steel frame 2-horse BP with dressing room and has done it with 2 large (one very large) horses inside. I might not want to tow through the Rockies in it but odds are I won't be since I live in Maryland. I have needed the 4WD numerous times at horse trials (and have been one of the few that did not need to be pulled out by the Waredaca tractor a couple of years at the October HT ) but 99.9% of the time I leave it in 2WD.
                  Sometimes having the SUV as opposed to the truck is nice as it is a bit more versatile.
                  I personally would not go smaller than the Burb or less than the 3/4 ton for a carlike object (different for a truck). I have towed a 2-horse BP with a Tahoe (borrowed rig) and the stopping distance sucked.
                  I got my Burb used after perusing the used car sale ads for a few months. I was looking for that or a 3/4 ton truck with extended cab and found the Burb first.
                  There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)


                  • #10
                    Get the mentioned book and make sure you get a truck that will STOP the trailer. Some people make the mistake of thinking "well, it pulls it fine" but what they don't think of is an emergency situation. If you have to slam on your breaks, even with an electronic break box, the truck needs to be able to stop the trailer well and that it can handle the inertia too.

                    I have a large 2000 4 star, warmblood size 2 horse, aluminum bumper pull with ramp and tack room. It's a long and tall trailer. I first used my friends 1996 gmc 4x4 1500 to tow it. ugh, it was awful. It could pull the trailer fine, but don't get me talking about windy days, wet days or when my horse would decide to shift. bleck. However, her truck pulled her 1992 trailet without a problem, it was a much smaller trailer.

                    Last year, I ended up getting a 1992 (yup, an old one!) GMC 2500 HD 2wd extend cab long bed . It was in great shape and low mileage for the year for a huge deal. It wasn't the 4x4 i wanted, but it was half the price, plus speaking to a few friends in my area, they said they rarely used the 4x4 so i went for it. I had a trusted mechanic go over it before I purchased it for $2500. I've put about $1500 into it replacing a manifold, water pump, brakes and other items that i felt needed to go. I'm comfortable with it and it tows like a dream. I'm just careful where I park and will tow up to 4 hours one way with it, any trip longer, i'll get a ride with someone else.

                    hint. when you're shopping..everyone will say "yeh, that truck will tow 'er fine"..so know your requirements and don't necessarily believe what everyone will say. the truck owner let me take it to my mechanic to look it over before purchase (he just took my information down).

                    Expect to put some money into a used truck and trailer after it's purchased. Make sure both are in working order before putting your horse into it. and always have them fully inspected at least once a year!

                    Good luck!
                    I love my OTTB! I get my dressage test done faster!


                    • #11
                      hey, whose horse are you calling "very large" --
                      he's just big boned.
                      The big man -- my lost prince

                      The little brother, now my main man


                      • #12
                        Bambam, I don't consider the 3/4 ton suburban car-like. It's actually one of the few SUV's I'd be comfortable towing with. I borrowed one once and it was essentially a tank.

                        4WD is one of those things where if you don't have it, you'll need it. Our F-350 doesn't have it for some reason and we're always wishing it did. Consequently we've had to be extremely careful about where we park and the conditions of where we're going.
                        They're small hearts.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by asterix View Post
                          hey, whose horse are you calling "very large" --
                          he's just big boned.
                          I didn't call him fat, but very large- which, dearest, he is. Any horse who makes the 17h HRH look small, is "very large" in my book. I am sure it is all bone and muscle (and, right now, hair ).
                          And if that description was inaccurate, why were you so sure I was referring to your horse
                          There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)


                          • #14
                            I'm not a pro like a lot of people on this board, but I can tell you what has worked for me (versus what is ideal).

                            I don't tow often, and I can't afford an extra truck just for my infrequent towing excursions. So I just use the vehicles we had before I bought the trailer, which are a 2008 Chevy Trailblazer and a 2009 Tahoe. I feel pretty confident hauling one horse in my little 2 horse bumper pull (no dressing room) with the Trailblazer. The truck stops and accelerates just fine with a single horse. It actually stops fine with two medium sized horses as well, but I think it is too much weight with two in it. I did tow two horses about 10 mins from the farm (gently!) once, but that is about it.

                            My friend who has a lot of towing experience with big, heavy trucks was actually surprised at how nicely the Trailblazer pulled and stopped.

                            We use a 2009 Tahoe as well and it seems to do well with one or two horses. We don't travel more than an hour and not up/down mountains. In the high winds we had this past weekend, the Tahoe was steady as can be. It also did well on some twisty and somewhat steep rural PA roads.

                            I've needed the 4WD, and I wouldn't do without it.

                            I like the Prodigy brake controller, but I heard that there is a new controller out that is supposed to be better? (P3 I think it is called)


                            • #15

                              Hint #1--multiply the times you "think" you might use a trailer by two. Once you have one, you will use it more often than you think.

                              Hint #2--it is easier to upgrade on a trailer than to upgrade the truck because it can't do the job.

                              Hint #3--hay--it has to fit in the trailer or the truck. It's no good wet.

                              Hint #4--the truck has to stop the trailer safely. The aforementioned book has all the weight ratio information, but when in doubt, go for the heavier truck.

                              Hint #5--before driving horsie around drive it to a parking lot and make sure the brake module is set correctly, and learn how to maneuver. It's too stressful at the show with the horse to find out you have just parked somewhere that you can't get out of.

                              Last hint--if at all possible, get a gooseneck. Much safer and easier all the way around.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by bambam View Post
                                I didn't call him fat, but very large- which, dearest, he is. Any horse who makes the 17h HRH look small, is "very large" in my book. I am sure it is all bone and muscle (and, right now, hair ).
                                And if that description was inaccurate, why were you so sure I was referring to your horse
                                nah, a lot of it was fat this year.
                                and dirt, don't forget the dirt! that's a significant load at the moment...

                                NMK's hints are all GREAT.
                                The gooseneck is nice but it DOES weigh more and cost more.
                                The big man -- my lost prince

                                The little brother, now my main man


                                • #17
                                  NMK's admonishment to make sure the truck is capable of STOPPING the trailer is IMHO the biggest criteria...and stopping it quickly if necessary. I can always get a tractor to pull me out of the mud, but I have to be able to stop that big thing loaded with my precious big thing at a moment's notice!
                                  ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan


                                  • #18
                                    Ditto getting the 4x4, you'll be glad you did even if you only use it once a year.. As far as trucks go, the Toyota Tundra is NOT] a suitable truck. Friend had one, too thin skinned, didn't haul or stop trailer well.


                                    • #19
                                      It all depends on what you need in a trailer... An aluminum trailer will cost you more $$ but you can tow (and stop) with less truck. A Brenderup will cost even more than an aluminum trailer and can probably be pulled with a GOOD SUV.

                                      I was in your situation one year ago and I ended up with an aluminum 2-horse featherlight for $5900. I had to do about $1000 in work on it to make it horse safe and it was still a STEAL.

                                      I also bought an 03' F-250 with 130k miles on it for $6,000. I don't think it was a steal but I was okay with that price. I could have gotten away with a lot less truck but I know that truck has the power to haul my trailer even if I decide to haul 2 horses and a full load of hay and tack through the foothills. For zipping around town, it's a LOT of truck but better too much than too little.

                                      I saw steel stock trailers and 2-horses w/out tack rooms for about $2900 but most were 7 ft tall or less. I saw WB sized steel trailers in the $3500-$4500 range, mostly without any "bells and whistles"

                                      I didn't see anything in aluminum for under $5000 and you could add 2-3k if you wanted a tack room and or WB height....
                                      I did't find many Brenderups for sale and the ones I did see were over 10k.

                                      I found my Featherlite on Craigs List. I looked for a LONG time, and when I saw mine, I moved quickly (as in drove up from work the day I saw it and left a deposit). There are bargains to be had but they don't last long. If you see one that looks good, move on it quickly (but if it looks TOO good to be true or the trailer is out of state pass - there are a LOT of scams) I got the truck about two months later.
                                      The rebel in the grey shirt


                                      • #20
                                        I haven't read everything everyone has already posted, but here is my experience and knowlegde from my dad (who is a mechanic and hauled huge race car trailers forever!) Anything you buy should be long wheel based because you have a big horse and will probably get a tall (7 1/2' tall rather than the standard 6 1/2'). A short wheel base vehicle won't be very good at stablizing the trailer. Newer model suburban really suck at hauling.. lol my mom was very dissappointed when I totalled her 98 model and she bought an 04 and it didnt have half the towing power of the older one. If you do get a standard size, then I would suggest a Toyota Sequoa(sp). My mom hauls my all steel 2 horse slant with a tackroom with her '02 Sequoa and it does better than my GMC Seiarra 1500! It also stops it better than mine does! We were both shocked.

                                        I hope my experience is helpful! Good luck with shopping!
                                        ~*It's not about the ribbons, but about the ride behind it"
                                        R.I.P. Teddy O'Connor