There is no doubt that for an equine professional, the right trailer is very important. Whether you add more horses, or haul fewer, you’ll be wise to upgrade your trips with 21st-century improvements.
Trends in Fashion and Function
New trailer construction details increase safety, durability, and ease of use. Consider these features when you’re trailer shopping:
Double LED taillights. These days, new trailers have two sets of taillights stacked on the left and right sides. These brighter lights make your trailer more visible to other drivers. The aim is to decrease the chances of a rear-end collision.
Michael Terry of Cimarron Trailers explains the advantages of his company’s taillight placement: “We took one set and raised it, and the other set we put in the top rail. It’s not just for the car right behind you. The driver two or three cars back from you can see your trailer.”
Taped-on sidewall sheeting. Look for smooth trailer sidewalls, with no visible fasteners or dimples created by the fasteners. Today, walls are bonded with tape, both for strength and to deaden sound in the stalls. A study by 3M, which manufactures VHB Tapes, showed that a trailer constructed with this bonding tape was 41 percent quieter than a similar one made with mechanical fasteners. In the trailer with taped-on sidewalls, vibration was also 30 percent less.
Larger windows. Maintain air circulation with stall windows as wide as 30 inches, when you open drop-down feed doors in the fronts of slant-load stalls, or sliding windows. (On the drop-down doors, always leave screens or safety bar grills in place when the trailer’s in motion.) Windows on both sides of the trailer maximize air flow to keep horses from overheating.
Box stall conversion. Dividers can be stowed flush against the sidewall to create a box stall—ideal to haul a mare and foal. You’ll see this design in trailers of all sizes. In addition, “Hauling horses in bigger stalls gets them there much fresher,” says C.D. Turnbow of Turnbow Trailers. “They have the ability to find their most comfortable position.”
How much extra space is created??“Typically our box-stall trailers are a variation of a straight load. A two-horse converts to an 8-x-9-foot stall, or a four-horse straight load converts to three boxes,” says Turnbow.
Load shedding in living quarters. When you’re on the road for a long trip, your trailer is home. Reduce energy usage through load shedding—lowering the electrical demand by shutting off parts of your electrical system. Load shedding is most helpful when you share an RV hookup, such as at a crowded showground where many rigs tap into available power.
Cowboy Classics offers this feature in its custom conversions, built into the living quarters of the front of the trailer: The living quarters measure from 8 to 22 ft on the short wall (can be curbside or roadside). The unit monitors power supply and automatically shuts down less critical components.
Here, several manufacturers and dealers describe improved—and affordable—features in new trailers.
Featherlite has introduced distinctive 2010 models that add versatility. Redesigned with “lite” pricing is the Model 9407, a two-horse straight-load bumper pull with a removable center post and pipe hardware. Model 8527 is a gooseneck that Featherlite describes as having “an open space between the horse area and the gooseneck. It also comes with a standard rear ramp, a removable bottom half divider on the first stall, and a telescoping rear divider.”
Other features include larger windows behind the horses, increasing the light and airflow in the horse area, and new nylon bushings on dividers that reduce vibration for a quieter ride.
The Ultimate four-horse gooseneck has side mangers spanning all stall fronts, with deep storage bunks underneath. In front is a small dressing room; for storage you have a mid tack with generous storage space, plus a rear tackroom, accessible through a roadside door. To increase durability, a nose sheet is made of 22-gauge stainless steel.
Joe Lanoue of Kingston touts the advantages of using VHB tape to bond the steel frame to the aluminum skin. “It keeps your trailer quiet and the horses quiet. We’ve always used it on our doors, throughout the whole trailer, wherever aluminum is in contact with aluminum or any steel. The panels have great adhesion,” he says.
Kingston also uses metal roofs. “All our roofs are full hard aluminum, so a horse won’t kick his foot through in case of a rollover. We use full hard alloy throughout the whole trailer.”
Lanoue adds, “All fasteners are stainless steel for durability, and that stops any rusting problems. Our tailgate latches all have grease fittings so they can be greased periodically.”
Sundowner has introduced new all-aluminum models, which Stephanie Griffin says are “designed with the value-conscious buyer in mind. Many of these trailers fit well for the professional horsemen who need strength and durability in their trailers so that they hold up to daily wear and tear, but are also affordable.”
Examples include three Horizon living quarters trailers. “Because they are much smaller, they work well for trainers and professional horsemen who need to maximize the number of horses they can haul and keep the living quarters minimal,” says Griffin.
Sundowner also has new gooseneck and bumper-pull stock trailers. The new Sportman slant-load model has a large curbside drop-down window, 18 x 64 inches, for airflow.
Carl Turnbow describes how his models focus on comfort. “One of the things we’ve been doing is going taller. Eight feet tall is the typical height for horse trailers. In the hotter parts of the country, it’s harder to ventilate. The taller the trailer, the easier it is to dissipate that heat.”
Air vents with fans can pull in air for interior ventilation, or push air out through the trailer’s roof. He adds that Turnbow now offers “new curtains over our ramps that can be left open when you’re going down the road. It allows for more ventilation.” These top doors have gas-assisted supports for easy operation.
Turnbow also points out the aluminum floor. “It’s designed with half-inch gaps to allow drainage,” he says. The floor segments are constructed with a slight angle to promote drainage also.
Merhow’s Blaine Eddy advises professionals to weigh the economics of the larger trailer versus the two-horse. “Consider the towing capabilities of the newer half-ton truck. You can put a gooseneck on those and haul 10,000 pounds. Maybe trainers are thinking about a smaller trailer. Before, you’d say no one would want a two-horse trailer with living quarters. But now they are buying those to haul with a half-ton truck. You spend $30,000 rather than $50,000—unless you need to make money on a 9-horse trailer.”
Dealer Terri Smith of Lucky T Trailers lauds Merhow’s sturdy construction: “On sidewalls, you have support beams on the side, running vertically and horizontally. Floor beams are usually 16 inches on center; we went to 12 inches.”
Dividers are tubular aluminum, promoting air flow through the stalls.
These steel trailers offer user-friendly features. “We have a rotary latch on dividers—like a car door latch, it closes twice and latches onto the wall,” says Mike Olsen. He explains that you can open the latch even if a horse leans on the divider.
Olsen also points out the drop-down feed doors where “the latch is at the bottom so it’s easy to reach.”
The design of the slant load forms stalls that are long enough for large horses. “On our trailer that’s 7 feet wide, our stall is as long as an 8-foot-wide trailer. We also build a slant-load package that adds 6 inches width, for a stall that’s 47 inches wide.”
On a gooseneck trailer, Cimarron offers a raised roof on the front of the trailer, a feature suggested by customers. Michael Terry explains, “You can raise the roof on a trailer, over the front, and taper it down over the back.” The shape adds height, up to 9.5 feet in the living quarters. In the trailer’s nose, you have more space to lie in bed. Terry adds, “These are on the big side of the trailer range. In some trailers you have a basement level underneath for storage.”
He describes another change to Cimarron: “We found a way to put a 3-inch-wide running board on an 8-foot-wide trailer. It gives a person access to the trailer all the way down to check on the horses. With both sides, it stays under the 8.5-foot overall width.”
Kiefer Built’s Genesis line includes a new four-horse gooseneck with a large dressing room. “It has nice 60/40 rear doors that give you a 43.5-inch loading door,” says the company’s Kevin Dice. “The first horse has an escape door, which gives you the option of storage in the first stall accessible from the walk-through door in the slantwall, or the escape door with optional slam latch.”
He explains that this trailer is the same 420 model that’s built with living quarters. “The dressing room door is on the curbside to allow for campsite hookup, and has a 73 x 123 inch dressing room. It has AC framing in place, and an egress window in the bunk.”
Built on a galvanized steel frame with aluminum skin, Logan trailers feature large windows. The self-draining “Whiz-proof” floor is constructed of aluminum planks with gaps to allow urine to flow out.
Floor plan options in slant-load gooseneck trailers include as many as four tackrooms: rear, mid, and sides. The mid and side tackrooms each have a curbside door, and you can request doors on roadside as well.
For More Information
• Bison: www.bisontrailer.com
• Blue Ribbon Trailers www.blueribbontrailers.com
• Cherokee Trailers: www.cherokeetrailers.net
• Cimarron: www.cimarrontrailers.com
• CM Trailers: www.cmtrailers.com
• Cowboy Classics: www.Cowboyclassicslq.com
• Eclipse Aluminum Trailer: www.eclipsehorsetrailers.com
• Elite Trailers: www.elitetrailers.com
• Exiss Trailer: www.exiss.com
• Featherlite: www.fthr.com
• Hart: www.harttrailer.com
• Kingston Trailers: www.lakotatrailers.com
• Logan Coach: www.LoganCoach.com
• Merhow Industries: www.merhow.com
• Miley Horse Trailers: www.mileytrailers.com
• Shadow Trailer: www.shadowtrailer.com
• SilverLite Trailers: www.silverlite.com
• Sooner Trailers: www.soonertrailers.com
• Sport Chassis: www.sundownertrailer.com
• Trails West: www.trailswesttrailers.com
• Turnbow Trailers: www.turnbowtrailers.com