How To Choose The Right Horse Trailer

Before heading out to buy your first horse trailer or replace your existing one, it’s important that you assess your needs, consider the comfort and safety of your passengers, and make a budget so you don’t break the bank.  Horse trailers come in many configurations and sizes, constructed of steel and aluminum and designed for the long haul or for quick trips across the county.

Trailer, Gooseneck or Living Quarters

Horse trailers can range from very basic single-wide trailers with simple rear gates, to rolling palaces with padded stalls for your horses and lavish master suites for you.

The most basic trailer is a stock trailer, a more open trailer designed to carry a variety of livestock. If your trailer needs to multi-task, and long hauls with your horse aren’t in your future, a simple stock trailer with a few modifications may be an affordable option.

While stock trailers may due in a pinch or work for simple, short rides, for anything longer serious equine enthusiasts can look for bumper towed purpose-built horse trailers.  Available in a variety of dimensions, lengths, configurations, building materials and gate style, the smallest bumper-towed trailers can be towed by an SUV while larger models can safely and comfortably hold multiple horses and tack.  While added features can pile on costs, a well-built bumper-towed horse trailer can be a cost-effective choice.

To more easily tow longer, heavier loads as well as carry fodder and gear, step up to a goose-neck horse trailer. While a bumper-towed trailer connects to a hitch on the bumper of the tow vehicle, a coupler underneath the overhang of the trailer connects to a ball in the bed of the truck. The hitch arrangement results in a tighter turning radius and more control while backing up. Safety and stability for hauling heavy loads makes gooseneck trailers a great choice when you will be hauling three or more horses. Before choosing a gooseneck trailer, be sure your towing vehicle is up to the task.

For multi-day eventers and long trips, consider the all-in-one comfort and convenience of a living quarters horse trailer.  Ranging from spartan to luxurious, living quarter horse trailers pair up the convenience of RVing with the functionality of a horse trailer.  Most living quarter trailers will also include a bedroom, kitchen and dining area and enclosed bathroom.  For personal horse trailers, living quarter models will generally be heavier and more expensive than other horse trailers.

Configuration and Construction of Horse Trailers

Choosing the construction materials for your horse trailer is a weighty matter. Steel-built horse trailers are stout and heavy, simply repaired, and easy to maintain. However, they are susceptible to rust.  Steel constructed horse trailers are also the most affordable.  Aluminum’s light-weight strength has made aluminum horse trailers popular in recent years. Beam construction results in lots of carrying capacity for less towing weight.  Aluminum trailers are also rust free – but not worry free – as aluminum is subject to corrosion, especially from animal waste.

For a little bit of everything, look for composite trailers, those made with a mix of materials, depending on function.  For non-structural components, such as the roof and fenders, fiberglass is an affordable and durable option that keeps the trailer weight down.  Newer to the market is “rumbar,” a durable flooring constructed from recycled tires that doesn’t require a rubber mat like metal or wood flooring.

Straight or slant – or how the horse travels in the trailers – is a matter of preference.  In a straight load trailer horses enter from the rear and stand side-by-side facing forward.  Horses face the center of the road, standing side by side at an angle, in a slant load trailer. This is generally used for hauling more than two horses.

Knowing how your horse travels and loads is an important factor in trailer selection.  Consider if you need a ramp entry, rather than a step-up entry.  Many small trailers offer a basic rear entry, but if your horse balks at backing out, back and side exit may be worth the investments. Some trailers will also offer a forward exit so handlers can exit safely.

Whether you’re a first-time horse trailer buyer or looking to upgrade your existing trailer, the horse trailer experts at Crossroads Trailer Sales in Newfield, N.J., can guide you through the process.