What Types of Trailers are Out There?
If you are considering buying a horse trailer, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the wide selection available on the market. From front facing to slant load to stock trailers, everyone claims that their trailer is the best and will be perfect for your needs.
Before buying a trailer, you need to consider what you need it for. Will you be showing a lot? Are you traveling long distances? Do you need a space to keep your tack? Then you need to consider what types of horses you will be shipping. Are they large? Small? Will you be shipping many horses, or only one or two? Are the horses good buddies, or are they likely to be strangers? All of these things and more will make a difference as you select your trailer.
Horse trailers come in many loading styles. The traditional two-horse trailer is a rear-loading trailer where both horses stand facing forward with a partition of some sort between them. These trailers are practical for many horse owners, and are easy to find.
Another common style is the head to head trailer. This usually has a side loading ramp, and the horses are set up so that half are facing forward while the other half face backward. Sometimes there is room to fit a small horse or pony in the middle. Generally these are two to six-horse trailers.
Slant loads tend to need more length for less horses, but offer a position that makes traveling easier on the horses. The partitions can be rather snug, giving the horses less wiggle room. Generally the waste space at the front of the trailer is made into storage rooms, suitable for keeping your tack on the trip. The average slant load trailer for three horses is about the same size as a straight load trailer for four horses.
Stock trailers do not have any dividers between the horses, but are often split into two large box stalls. They allow the horses room to choose their own position as they travel. One disadvantage is that there is no protection keeping horses from hurting one another while in transit.
A more recent innovation is the two + one style of trailer. This type of trailer combines a two-horse straight load with a one horse box stall in front. This box stall is small, and can be used for tack and equipment if you do not want to load a horse in it.
Each style of trailer can be found in step up or ramp load. Steps ups can be useful for difficult loaders as there is not hollow-sounding ramp to travel on. Ramps are generally safer though, although steep ramps need to have side panels to keep horses from stepping off the side by accident.
Some trailers come with built in tack rooms, and even changing rooms. While they add length, these can be very useful if you show a lot, or don’t have extra room in your towing vehicle.
Finally, there are two primary types of hitch to consider. Bumper pull hitches are the most common, and can be used with a wide range of vehicles. They are great for smaller trailers, but not as secure for the bigger ones. Horse trailers should never be actually hooked onto a bumper – the hitch must be properly installed onto the frame of the towing vehicle.
Gooseneck hitches are more secure and are perfect for larger trailers. They also offer storage space in the neck, which can be useful if your trailer does not have a tack room. The problem with goosenecks is that you need a pick-up truck to pull them, and the hitch must be installed in the bed of your truck.
While you can find fifth-wheel hitches on horse trailers, they are uncommon.