From simple to extravagant, choose trailer options with safety, functionality and your individual needs in mind.
By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg
From two-horse bumper pulls to slant loads with living quarters that are roomy enough for the whole family and a barnful of equines, horse trailers come in an enormous array of sizes and designs. With so many options, selecting the right rig for you and your Paint Horses can be challenging.
“Think about if you’re going to be an occasional user or if it’s something you’ll use on a daily basis,” trailer pro Jim Kyle advised. “Are you going to be trail riding or horse-showing or rodeoing? What level of versatility do you need in your trailer?”
Jim, sales manager for APHA’s official trailer dealer Cowboy Trailer Sales, says knowing how you plan to use your trailer can help guide your purchasing decisions—avoiding both dizzying choices and sticker stock. Once you’ve made your selection, you can then customize your rig to suit your specific needs. Creative extras for your horse compartment, tack room and living quarters can boost efficiency, increase utility and add a touch of luxury, transforming your trailer into the kind of house-on-wheels that makes you feel at home wherever you go.
Caution! Horses On Board
Keeping your precious equine cargo safe on the road is key. When evaluating a trailer’s horse compartment, prioritize safety, function and comfort for your horses. Depending on your needs and preferences, the horse compartment can be a straight load, slant load, side load or even a reverse load. The size of your horses should factor into your selection; horse compartments come in varying widths, from 7 to 8 feet wide, Jim says.
“Make sure you’ve got the right stall spacing in the trailer where the horse has adequate room,” Jim advised. “You can go with different widths. Standard height for trailers is 7 feet tall, but a lot of performance or dressage riders opt for 7 feet and 6 inches because of the height of their horses.”
While many trailers come equipped with basic rubber floor mats for traction, some horse owners, like all-around rider and APHA National Director Stacie Lundquist of Brookville, Kansas, add special memory foam to the trailer floor to provide additional comfort for equine passengers.
“Memory foam feels like you’re walking on a trampoline,” Stacie said. “It provides a lot of extra cushion for your horse as you’re going down the road.”
Drop-down windows and adjustable air vents provide air flow in the horse compartment. APHA member Kim Beckman of Monroe, Washington, prefers a separate window and bar system in her trailer windows.
“If you have a drop-down window with the bars integrated and you open it, you’ve created a big open space that some horses think they can jump through,” Kim said. “I’ve seen incidents on Facebook where horses got their heads and shoulders stuck in those openings. I prefer separate window-and-bar systems for that reason, so you can have the windows open and the bars up for ventilation.”
Many trailers require horses to step down to unload, but upgrading to a spring-loaded ramp can make loading and unloading less stressful for your Paint.
“When you’re heading to different venues, you don’t know if your horses are going to have unload onto wet asphalt,” Kim said. “With a ramp, your horse won’t have to jump out on that kind of slippery ground, and instead they can walk down.”
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2018 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.