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What feature of your horsetrailer can't you do without?

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  • What feature of your horsetrailer can't you do without?

    I started pre-trailer shopping in anticipation of having a horse and am a bit befuddled by sales people here in Florida. When I ask about benefits of specific features I get the ole "it's a matter of preference" ... so, what is your preference?

    I'm limiting my search to a 2-horse bumper-pull and leaning to more aluminium than steel because the truck I have access to for towing is only a 1/2 ton.

    Seems that there are more straight loads, my trainer has expressed a preference for ramp ... I know I want a wide one ("warmblood" seems to imply 7' width?) ...

    I'm used to California where you tie your horse to the outside of the trailer for tacking and general hanging-out between classes (dressage) or phases (horse trials). Do you generally put your horses back in the trailer rather than tie outside? Is it important to be able to tack your horse up inside the trailer??

    What feature can't you live without ... or do you really really wish you'd gotten?


  • #2
    I have a two horse slant load BP. I've had straight loads and slants and I feel like they haul better in the slant so that's been my preference. I have a Trails West Classic II which I love.

    Features I can't do without:

    - Big dressing room. I see a lot of trailers with really small dressing rooms, mine is huge and has TONS of hooks, I love it!

    - The swing out saddle racks for sure, they just make tacking and loading equipment easier.

    - Drop down windows. I wouldn't buy any slant load that didn't have drop down windows. My old trailer didn't have them and I had a major issue on a ferry once and I couldn't get to my horse because of how tightly they pack you. I like that you can get them more air if needed and if I really needed to get in there like I did on the ferry I could climb through the window... Perhaps I will never need to do that again but it's nice to know I can.

    - Water tank. I got the 50 gal water tank option installed - it's nice to be able to bring along water from home. There are a couple of trails I haul to with no water spigots and it's a nice back up in case your horse decides he doesn't like the water somewhere.


    • #3
      I can't say I've ever tacked up inside my trailer, although I just bought a stock trailer as a run around trailer, so I may haul short distances from home already tacked up now.

      I have owned a total of 6 trailers and only my very first one had a ramp, and I swear I will never have another. I had more issues with loading and unloading with the ramp than without. I also think my horses have hauled better in a stock or slant, will not do a straight load again.

      An escape door is essential in my opinion as well as excellent ventilation. Inside and outside lights for loading are a must. I have a new appreciation for an awning after using ours while camping this year.

      This may sound dumb, but both my husband and I really appeciate marker lights on the fenders so you can easily see where they are in the dark.

      I wilg also never have another bumper pull. Once you go gooseneck, you'll never go back!
      "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


      • #4
        Get The Complete Guide to Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer.

        It will open your eyes to why certain features are the way they are and things to look for.


        • #5
          I don't currently own a trailer, but have had a few over the years and been in quite a few.

          I'm not a fan of ramps for three reasons:
          1) If you aren't on level ground, the ramp is a PITA--you think you won't need to worry about this but not all show grounds are level, if you have to unload on the side of the road it can be problematic, etc etc.
          2) It seems like they end up needing a lot of maintenance--the hinges in particular.
          3) They can get slippery.

          I prefer to have an escape door on at least one side if you're doing a straight load.

          I do not like the open storage area with just a chest bar on a straight load. Would rather have enclosed storage. Else, you have to be really careful to secure things or they can slide.

          Have never really needed a dressing room, always changed in the trailer. Now if I were going big and fancy, sure...but for a two horse BP? Nah.

          Lighting INSIDE the trailer.

          Removable dividers--whether straight or slant. So nice to be able to totally remove them if you need/want to without hardware sticking out.

          Prefer slant load. Easier to load/unload by yourself IMHO. Especially if you're hauling more than one horse. Even better, prefer slant load with heads to the right instead of left--but that was a custom feature on our trailer.

          Screens on the windows are useless IMHO. They just get destroyed. Would rather have the bars that can be dropped than screens.

          Liked the trailer we had that had rubber matting up the sides about half way. I've never really had a kicker or anything, but I can see the value of having the rubber there.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


          • #6
            Working brakes. (duh.)

            For me, a trailer has to have a back door that opens ALL THE WAY-- no rear tack for me, thank you, and I also prefer not to have a post going down the middle of the door. I've seen way too many sticky loaders, but I've never had a horse refuse to go into my wide-open trailer. For that reason, I also never want a ramp--too many moving parts to take care of, and too easy for a scared or rebellious horse to step off the side.


            • #7
              I prefer a ramp with doors (some trailers the ramp is the rear door), drop down windows, fully removable dividers, slant load, full size tack room (some straight loads there is half tack under the manger), no rear tack and rubbered walls would be fantastic.

              It really is all about preference. There are positive and negative to just about every option.


              • #8
                I've never had a problem with a ramp, and I never park on even ground unless it's paved... in which case, I'm glad to have a ramp for unloading. The ramp makes it easier to load Other Stuff on your trailer, which I have done quite a lot.

                On a two horse bumper pull with no dressing room... aluminum vs steel is not going to make much difference in weight. With the half-ton truck and worries about weight, I'd consider the brenderup-type trailers (there are other brands). They're light and they seem to have thoughtful design options. But, they are pricey.

                Look for useful hold-backs, that will hold the doors securely out of the way. I like an exterior light on the back - makes parking in the dark way easier, too. Ventilation - especially in warm climates - is essential: you can't really have too much. A water tank is a really nice option. I like to have the dividers completely removable for a totally empty box. I prefer the wheel wells not to infringe on the inside of the trailer. Make sure the trailer is large enough for the largest horse, in all three dimensions. Measure your horse at rest to get his true length if you end up looking at slants.

                I never tack up inside, but I imagine I would do that if it happened to be raining. Some horses are more comfortable/safe kept on the trailer; mine always prefer to be outside, plus I worry about the temperature inside.

                Finally, I would get a Class IV weight distributing hitch for your truck, even though a class III may technically be enough.
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                • #9
                  I prefer slant loads, no rear tack.

                  I have an F-150, so I could have gotten a dressing room or a ramp with full doors. I opted for the dressing room. I would never get a ramp without full doors. I could live without a dressing room, but I really do like it.

                  My windows have screens, which I like for leaving the windows open while driving. They also have bars separate from the windows, so the horses can't get at the screens to destroy them and I can drop the windows when parked for more ventilation while still having the bars up. I like this setup.

                  The walls have Rumbar-type coating about halfway up, which I love. My mare paws, and I'd rather she paw at that than at the trailer wall.

                  I never tack up in the trailer and can't imagine a situation where I would. My mare and I are safer and happier with her tied up outside, even in the rain. If the weather is so wild it wouldn't be safe to tack up tied outside (lightening, etc), we wouldn't be riding anyway.

                  I wish I had mats in the dressing room instead of carpet, and I wish I had the WERM flooring instead of mats in the trailer.


                  • #10
                    People only generally put their horses back in the trailer if they don't stand at the trailer well. The only time I saw someone tack up IN the trailer was at a hunt. They were the only people who showed up without horses tacked, and it was a PITA.

                    I currently do not own my dream trailer, but here's my list:

                    1. Removable mats in the dressing room instead of carpet. So much easier to clean, and you can always put in a rug if you want.
                    2. Dressing room with saddle racks that either fold down or are removable. A swing-out is even better!
                    3. Loading lights, inside and out.
                    4. Rumbar/WERM flooring and on the walls, halfway up.
                    5. Dressing room door with tension so it will stay open while I reach in for my bridle!!
                    runnjump86 Instagram

                    Horse Junkies United guest blogger


                    • #11
                      Gooseneck and a dressing room. I have a 3H slant, step-up. Mine has a rear tack area- I usually put a bale of hay and stall cleaning stuff back there, my tack goes up front where it's clean. Ramps, IMO, are a PITA for the reasons BuddyRoo mentioned. It hauls great and I rarely have a horse give me problems loading. FWIW, I've never felt the need to take out the rear center pole and open both rear doors for more room loading, and I've hauled lots of young stock and more than a few mares with foals.


                      • #12
                        Removable partitions!!

                        Gives you the option of hauling a horse loose if needed.

                        I had a slant load and got rid of it. A PITA if you are riding multiple horses--you have to move one out of the way to get to the one in the front.

                        I have always had ramps and never had a problem with one.

                        Make sure you have plenty of ventilation. When I leave the top doors open on my trailer those doors kind of block the side windows so there is less ventilation. Not good on a hot day.

                        Get a good solid trailer--not a flimsy one. I have an older 4 Star! The only thing I would change is that I wish it was a little wider.


                        • #13
                          My trailer is a 2 horse, straight load bumper pull which is moved with a 2011 Ford F150 with a tow package. I have never had a problem with 2 horses on, and used to have an 18hh Clyde X as one of my beasties. I have a swing-able partition that I move and am one of those folks that can tack up etc in the trailer, I guess a lot of that would be the horse you are working with.
                          The dressing room on this trailer is a bit smaller than the old trailer I had which just means a bit more "fung shei-ing" of the stuff I'm taking.
                          Totally agree with the secure fasteners for the top doors etc and I love roof vents that can go to the front for the breeze, or the back to pull the warm air out and keep them comfy when it's colder out.
                          Mine also has sliding small windows in the top doors which also have an influence on the air flow when I need the doors closed but want to keep the ponies comfy.
                          Chest and butt straps, as opposed to bars. Padded but with a bit more movement and like the idea if a horse ever gets over it is cut-able with a sharp knife or scissors instead of a torch to get them loose.


                          • #14
                            I got my trailer extra tall (7'6") and I LOVE the extra height. Initially I needed it for my Belgian Draft gelding, but he passed away last year, and there's no way I'm trading it in for something smaller even though my mares are only 15hh. It's also a slant stock trailer with no rear tack and no ramp, so it's very inviting, even for horses without much trailering experience.

                            Removable dividers are a must for me, and I do tack up with my horses tied to the outside of the trailer frequently.

                            Being a slant load gooseneck, it gives me plenty of extra space to change, and even sleep, in the tack room without getting any extra "dressing room" space.

                            Speaking of goosenecks, although I know that's not always viable with everyone's setup, I find mine way easier to drive than a bumper pull, and I can't imagine every changing to a bumper pull. I Like my gooseneck way too much.

                            And for me, absolutely no mangers. My father used to work at a place that built and repaired horse trailers many years ago, and he said they always had trailers come in with damage from horses getting caught up in the mangers, and he feels that they're incredibly dangerous. Admittedly that was a long time ago, but after all his stories, I still feel better not having them myself.
                            Last edited by Wayside; Oct. 22, 2012, 08:41 AM. Reason: clarification
                            "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                            -Edward Hoagland


                            • #15
                              My must haves:
                              -Step up
                              -Slant with removable partitions
                              -dressing room
                              -matted walls
                              "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
                              So you might as well have a good time"


                              • #16
                                Link to the book you want: http://www.equispirit.com/info/horsebook.htm

                                While most are "personal preference," (I love ramps, straight loads) for me I couldn't live without the dressing room. Just enough room to do what I need and to store my stuff safely.

                                I also like that the dividers are completely removable if I want to haul loose or move furniture.

                                I also prefer the quick-release butt & chest bars. Even without the pin in it, the bar stays up, but with a quick bump, it safely pops and drops.
                                <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                                • #17
                                  I've noticed from other trailer threads that some trailer preferences tend to be regional. West coasters tend to prefer slant step-ups, and east of the Mississippi they tend to prefer straight loads with ramps.

                                  Aside from that, consider what, how and where you will be hauling. I tend to haul by myself, or with my young daughter and niece along, so I need to be able to load and unload the horses by myself. I have always been a fan of straight load trailers because I have/had large horses and felt they did not travel as well in slants. However, I may soon be switching to a slant load as I now have a need to haul more than 2 horses and want to upgrade to a living quarters trailer.

                                  I prefer ramps. That was shaped by a traumatic incident I witnessed. At a show, the owner of a step-up trailer parked on a muddy hill, and as they were unloading a horse he slipped under the trailer and snapped his cannon. It was a compound fracture, bone exposed. I'll never forget it. The trailer did have a rather large black bumper but that made no difference. Trailer accidents can still happen on a ramp, especially if it gets slippery. However, I just can't do a step up after seeing that. Personally, I prefer a front and a side ramp. My last 2 trailers have had both, and they are handy for several reasons.

                                  I agree with a previous poster who mentioned being able to unload any horse without having to offload everyone else. I had an equispirit 2+1 (2 straight stalls and a slant stall, rear and side ramps). It was great because I could unload and reload any horse without having to move anyone. That is important if you show out of your trailer and you show in multiple divsions/horses/riders. If you tend to go to big multi day shows and you show out of a stall, that might not be as important to you.

                                  I also agree with the drop-down windows. The sliding bus type windows always get stuck and are a pain in the a$$. Also agree with getting the biggest dressing room or tack area possible. You never have enough storage space.

                                  If you go for a slant, I'd highly recommend the swing out tack (available on double d trailers). I've seen more than one horse who wouldn't back out of a slant trailer, and being able to swing the tack out of the way and open up the trailer so they could turn around and walk out was the only way to get the horse off! If/when I switch to a slant, it will be with the wheel wells on the outside and no mangers. That again is personal preference, but I was able to borrow a friend's slant trailer and while the mangers are nice for storage, they make my horses too cramped, and don't allow them to stretch their necks. Also I don't like the wheel wells protruding to the inside...just another thing for my clumsy horses to trip over. I will also be adding a side ramp to my slant, and having the dividers modified so they swing from either side. This way I can back them off or walk them off the side ramp. Again, this may be overkill for many, but for me being able to load/unload solo and access the front horse without unloading everyone, it is important. Usually, my daughter shows first in the leadline division, and then I tend to be in one of the last divisions of the day!

                                  I have tied to the trailer, but I mostly leave them inside. Again this was shaped by a wreck. Someone tied their horse to the side of an older stock trailer, and instead of the tie or halter breaking, the horse managed to pull a long metal strut loose from the trailer and proceeded to drag it around the showgrounds, terrified, and repeatedly impaling itself. Of course that can be mitigated by using a breakaway tie, halter, ring, etc. However my preference is to leave them on the trailer with their haybags. I've never had a loose horse that way, but have seen many loose horses because they decided they no longer wanted to be tied to the trailer.

                                  I've owned bumper pull and goosenecks, and goosenecks do tow better and are easier to hitch IMO. However my current bumper pull with sway bars tows just fine.

                                  I also agree with removable dividers. I've never had to but have loaned my trailer to a freind to haul a mare and foal and they took the dividers out for that. Nice to have that option.

                                  My current trailer is this: http://www.adamtrailers.com/_mgxroot/page_10834.html Nice, big and airy, but still small enough to get in and out of anywhere I need to go.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
                                    I also prefer the quick-release butt & chest bars. Even without the pin in it, the bar stays up, but with a quick bump, it safely pops and drops.
                                    Those are awesome, I agree. If I had a trailer with chest and butt bars, I'd definitely want those. Once I had a gelding get both front legs over the chest bar in my BO's trailer, but thankfully all we had to do was pull a pin and the chest bar dropped, allowing my gelding to plop back down on his front feet. Then we just backed him up a step, and put it back in place since we weren't at our destination yet.
                                    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                                    -Edward Hoagland


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by xQHDQ View Post
                                      Get The Complete Guide to Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer.

                                      It will open your eyes to why certain features are the way they are and things to look for.
                                      Agree with this.

                                      I have a Hawk 2H WB-size bumper-pull with dressing room. It is a straight load. Bought it new. Before that I briefly had a tiny, dark, old trailer, ugh. Here is what I like about the Hawk:

                                      -- LOTS of windows. I wish it had windows in the upper doors in back, but other than that there are windows everywhere it's safe to have them. My horse is claustrophobic yet pretty comfortable in this great big light trailer.

                                      -- Light colored interior -- again, helps with claustrophobic horse.

                                      -- Escape doors on BOTH sides. I consider this essential

                                      -- Dressing room with saddle racks, bridle hooks, a bench seat with storage underneath. It's carpeted but I'd rather have some sort of industrial strength vinyl flooring.

                                      -- "Rumber" flooring. I can't lift mats (bad shoulders) and the Rumber is very easy to clean. Some people don't like it -- ask around.

                                      -- Ramp that is easy to lift (again, shoulders)

                                      What I'd add: a second tie ring on the outside on each side so I could tie the horse and her haynet outside the trailer. She will stand tied all day if she has hay and water.
                                      You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                      1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by quietann View Post
                                        What I'd add: a second tie ring on the outside on each side so I could tie the horse and her haynet outside the trailer. She will stand tied all day if she has hay and water.
                                        It's nice to have two tie points on each side so that you still have two tiepoints even if you have to park flush against a fence. I also like having the Fortiflex bucket hanger brackets installed at each tiepoint - much easier to secure a bucket that way than by a string or other mechanism to the tie point, and they're much more secure against bored horsies.
                                        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket