Monday, October 4, 2010

Horse Trailer Guide

The top five things to consider when buying a horse trailer. Use these tips to make an informed and educated decision when you're in the market for a horse trailer.

Horse Trailers are a fact-of-life for anyone involved with horses, whether riding, training, showing, buying and selling or all of the above.  For anyone who has ever dealt with transporting horses, or who plans to in the future, we've put together this guide to help you prioritize some of the important factors when considering purchase of a new horse trailer.

Horse Trailers are available in a variety of styles and sizes with any number of add-ons and accessories.  You can find basic 2 Horse Trailers to 4 Horse Trailers with Living Quarters, trailers with tack rooms, saddle racks, storage, and feed doors, and with a bumper pull slant load, bumper pull straight load, or gooseneck hitch.  With all of the styles and features available from leading manufacturers, it's important to get an idea of what you need and expect from your horse trailer.  The following 5 tips can help make sure you get the most out of your horse trailer for your intended purposes.

1.    2, 3, or 4 Horse Trailer - First you need to consider how many horses you will be transporting at any time.  Here you need to think about your plans for the future and your goals with your horse business.  If you know that you have a smaller operation or a side hobby with your horses, a 2 horse trailer might be ideal for the foreseeable future.  However, if you intend to grow and expand your business, or breed your horses, you might think about getting a 3 or 4 horse trailer to accommodate future needs (or current needs if you already have more horses).  Also, many horse trailers allow you to remove the stall divider if you are transporting fewer horses than the trailer can accommodate.

2.    Bumper Pull or Gooseneck Hitch - Horse trailers can be found with either bumper pull or gooseneck hitches for your vehicle and here you need to consider the configuration of your transporting vehicle as well as the size and weight of your load.  Bumper pull horse trailers are used with vehicles that have a ball hitch and the trailer is attached to the rear of the vehicle.  Gooseneck hitches are used with pick-up trucks and are generally considered to be much stronger.  The gooseneck hitch is located in the truck bed above the rear axle and the trailer is then secured to it.  The horse trailer in this case has a front end protrusion that extends beyond the main structure of the trailer.  The type of hitch you choose depends largely on the type of vehicle you're using as well as the weight of the cargo load.

3.    Slant Load or Straight Load - A slant load horse trailer has stalls that are slanted from right to left to accommodate 2 or 3 horses riding at a time.  This configuration allows for transporting more horses without adding to the width of the trailer.  A straight load trailer loads 1 or 2 horses straight into the trailer and generally gives the horses more room.  Depending on the manufacturer, both slant load and straight load trailers have dividers to separate the stalls and may have tack storage rooms for the horse's equipment.  Choosing between slant load and straight load really depends on how many horses you will be transporting, the size of the horses, and the load capacity of your vehicle.

4.    Living Quarters - Some horse trailers are equipped with Living Quarters to accommodate the driver or owner or caretaker during overnight or longer expeditions.  Living quarters may be a necessity if you plan on regularly transporting the horses on longer trips.  This feature will make the trip more safe, restful, convenient, and economical overall.  Depending on the manufacturer, you can expect a bed, wardrobe, shower, and kitchen area with stovetop, sink, and microwave.  Sounds a lot better than trying to catch some shut-eye in the cab of your truck!

5.    New or Used Horse Trailer - In your search for a horse trailer, you will find many options on the resale market as well as all manner of new horse trailers.  Here you want to consider whether you want customized options and what warranties are available. These might be the deciding factors in choosing new over used.  For example, a new Sundowner horse trailer comes with a 3 Year Hitch to Bumper Warranty as well as an 8 Year Structural Warranty.  The 3 Year Warranty even covers all items in the Living Quarters units (please see for complete details on the Sundowner warranties).  You'll want to weigh in these factors when shopping for your horse trailer while also considering the source of the trailer (respected dealer, personal sale from the classifieds, etc).

As you can see, shopping for a horse trailer requires some homework and smart planning.  Let these 5 factors provide a starting point in your process to successfully choosing a horse trailer.  It is a big investment and takes into account the safety and comfort of you and your horses as well as reliability, durability, and affordability.

Of course, there are more details to consider and compare as you get further in your shopping and buying process but we hope we've helped get you started on your way.

Rick McKeithan is owner of The Trailer Showroom, an online store for horse trailers, cargo trailers, enclosed trailers, and car haulers offering discount prices on all custom manufactured trailers. The Trailer Showroom is an authorized Sundowner Horse Trailer dealer with competitive online pricing.

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