Some practical advice on how to approach trailer shopping, or follow along on my intellectual rationalizations/enabling.
First Circle: Limbo– I had a prefectly good trailer. It was a custom Collin Arndt that I had made for me in 2000. I replaced the flooring last year and had a top-to-bottom thorough check and repair where needed. But after breaking my left arm, I had difficulty hauling things in and out of it and stowing them in the nose cone. (That’s where my storage area was). Also, the manual cranking of the hitch was starting to be a problem for me. Basically, I would drive home after a two-day show and be in so much pain, I needed a day to recover before I could unpack everything. Do I need a new trailer? Can I make do?
Second Circle: Lust – I started looking at trailers on line. I looked at all the models I could find, their floor plans and started comparing prices of new and used trailers. I seriously must have burned up about 1,000 hours in this pursuit. I looked at online forums and trailer forums and reviewed what people had said about what they had, what they liked and issues with models and manufacture years. I also explored tag along vs goosenecks. If you get a chance to pull both types, that will help you decide what you are the most comfortable with. What I wanted was a fabulous 2+1 with a spacious tack room and a full living quarters decorated in my personal style. Somehow all in a 16 foot trailer that weighed 5,000 lbs. Cue hysterical laughter.
Reality check #1: My truck can only haul so much. Same for yours. Do not believe what the dealerships tell you. Do your own research. Get the vin# on your truck and call the manufacturer and find out what you can pull safely, and then drop back a good 1,000 lbs and THAT is your sweet spot. Reserch GVWR on line. Educate yourself. If you get a LQ trailer, DRY weight means no water or waste in any of the tanks. Educate yourself on grey water, black water and dumping.
Add to this fiberglass roof, steel, aluminum over steel frame, all aluminum. All these factors influence weight.
Reality check #2: I barely feel comfortable with my 16′ trailer. I opted for 17′ in my new one. I looked at a few 2 horse with side ramp/dressing room designs. My dealership rep and I discussed trailer length and design, where the wheels would sit and how that would influence tounge weight and towability. Find someone who can explain this if you do a custom design.
Reality check #3: Needs vs Wants. I almost never in 18 years used the 2+1 to haul a third horse. It makes a great hangout space and is great for storing things, but is not necessary if you have a good dressing room and are organized. (I will let you know if this is really true in about 6 months). I NEED to take better care of my body, so tack room and hydraulic jack it is.
Reality check #4: The safety and comfort of the horses is the first priority. Buy the best built trailer that you can afford that is as horse-friendly as possible. Check the dividers thoroughly for design flaws and durability. Wood floor/aluminum floor/mats/WERM. I had a wood floor for 17 years and never pulled mats. (don’t do that) You can hardly find wood anymore, so if you buy aluminum floors, you will either need to pull mats and keep it very clean or buy WERM or another brand of flooring cover. I will not pull mats, it’s just how I am, I bought the WERM.
Reality check #5: Size matters. 7’6′ tall for TB’s and sport horses. 8′ if you have big ones. The wider the slant load trailer the better if you have larger horses. Measure, look at adjustments, etc. The princess would have needed two stalls to be happy, so I would have had to have a 3 horse to haul two. Check the standard stall measurements for the trailer. Is your horse ok with that? What size have you been hauling in? I went with a standard stall size (down from a 7.6 length) and added about 18 inches to the area in front of the chest bar. It still feels cramped after having the 2+1, but it will be fiiine, really.
Reality check #6: Size still matters: The larger the dressing room, the better. I added an AC unit with a heat strip to mine because I am going to convert it into a tack/bedroom so I can stay in the trailer at shows. Honestly, less to save money (because I did the math, it won’t) and more because I hate being far away from my horses. I MIGHT be a control freak. They MIGHT be on a fairly strict schedule. The queen may run out of hay.
There are two very active horse trailer conversion Facebook pages. Join them and read and drool. But, go back to the second circle of hell and reality check #1. Use light materials and don’t go over WEIGHT. Also, ventilation is real. Do your homework, people DIE from this, it is preventable.
Reality check #7: Money. I know, right this is kind of a joke…. we are horse people after all. But seriously, take a good hard look at what you can afford, what is essential, and what you can realistically do yourself. I WANT a full bathroom with a shower. It is not practical. A pump sink and camp toilet are practical. The horse parks almost all have showers. Full disclosure, I went waaaayyy over budget on my trailer purchase. I may never be able to buy a new car again, but hey, my ponies will be traveling in comfort.
Hints: All the newer model trucks are taller. If you buy a custom gooseneck they can make the nose cone area shallower for you. Measure the bed and rails before you order just to be sure. Older good quality used trailers can be raised by adding blocks, but you MUST have a good trailer repair person to do this. If you are not close to a dealership you like, you will need a good trustworthy repair person. If you drive an older truck then you may just win the jackpot and score an older sound trailer for a great price because people don’t want to add the blocks or don’t know that you can. If you are buying used, please have a good reputable trailer repair person go over it with a fine tooth comb. Don’t skimp on maintenace and repairs, your horses deserve the best and every one’s safety is at stake.