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Road Warriors

Article & Photography by: Kate Bradley Byars
With many options available for both truck and trailer purchases, what are the nitty gritty facts you need to make the right choice?

Horse ownership usually goes hand in hand with truck and trailer ownership. After all, you have to have some means of hauling your horse (or horses) to shows, trail rides, rodeos and other events. The “equine package” typically starts out small: one horse with a bumper-pull trailer attached to an SUV-style vehicle. As your horse addiction grows, so can the size of your truck and trailer. Before long, that crew cab dually is pulling out of the driveway hauling three horses loaded into gooseneck with full living quarters and a mountain of gear.

But how do you know when it’s time to upgrade your rig? With APHA corporate partner Dodge RAM trucks, we pulled together the must-know information horse owners need before hauling.

Don’t let your eyes glaze over—it isn’t all facts and figures. Three, experienced APHA members and haulers will also offer real-world advice on their truck and trailer must-haves to help you make an educated decision on a new purchase or better prepare you down the road.

Truck Shoppin’
While basic truck styles—one ton, half ton, extended cab, crew cab—are common knowledge to most equine enthusiasts, the list of those who know exactly how much weight their half- or three-quarter-ton truck can pull is quite a bit shorter.

Mike Orman with Dodge RAM Rodeo helps put hauling power in perspective.

“Before purchasing a truck, the most important thing to know about your trailer is the weight,” Mike said. “Not only does this include the weight of the trailer, but also the weight of what’s in the trailer. This includes horses, tack, hay, water, etc.

“Then, consider the weight of the truck itself and what you’re hauling in the truck, including passengers. Once that amount is determined, you need to look for a truck that can properly tow that weight.”

While towing capacity is foremost in most truck buyers’ minds, you also need a truck that has the ability to stop the weight of your trailer and its cargo.

For some horse owners, like trainer Cheryl Shaw of Winnie, Texas, it was easy to figure out she needed a one-ton dually. Cheryl hauls her daughter, Sydney, to 4-H events and APHA shows with their two horses, Shot Little Wolf and Gay Barb Cat, using a living-quarters trailer. Cheryl’s husband, Stewart, also uses the truck to pull a Gooseneck-brand stock trailer full of crossbred cattle.

“We always use a one-ton, dual-wheel truck when hauling, and Dodge has been our truck of choice since 2004. We have two dually trucks,” Cheryl said. “Because of the weight associated with the living-quarters trailer, the dual wheels provide a better support system and stabilize our vehicle. Also, if we had to limp a few miles with a flat rear tire, we are better able to do so.”

Cheryl hauls her horses to other arenas when the Gulf Coast rain prevents her from riding in her own pen, and also drives to playdays and shows several times a month. Aside from routine maintenance such as oil changes, rotating the tires and checking their pressure and ensuring the lights are working properly, Cheryl says the truck is an easy keeper.

Not all horse owners can afford, nor have the desire to own a living-quarters trailer. For Marie Powell, a mounted-shooting competitor from El Campo, Texas, having two truck and trailer options makes economic sense.

Marie, who competes with her bay overo gelding Buckshot Poco Bill, and her husband, Scot, have a one-ton dually to haul their living-quarters trailer and a three-quarter ton to haul their smaller stock trailer. On both trucks, Marie’s must-have feature is a power-break controller.

This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2017 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.