Finding a Suitable Vehicle for a Horse Trailer

If you’re thinking of buying a horse trailer, you need to make sure you have the right vehicle to tow it.

This wasn’t something that really occurred to me until I moved out, and didn’t have easy access to my parents’ truck any more. And there was no way my tiny hatchback was doing the work!


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    Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on cars.

    But, I do know enough about horses to be able to identify their vehicle-related demands. Because even if you don’t own a trailer, there are plenty of other things you’ll be carrying in your car as a rider!

    Finding a suitable vehicle for a horse trailer
    You’re gonna need hay. Lots of hay.

    So let’s talk about it together: we’ll figure out why you might need a certain type of vehicle, and then I’ll give you a couple of recommendations on what’s worked for me.

    Want to jump to a particular section? Here’s what we’ve got:

    Why Would You Need to Buy a Horse Trailer?

    Okay, so probably the biggest vehicle-related demand on you will be a trailer.

    But you do have some discretion over whether you choose to buy one or not. So first, let’s talk about why you would need to buy a horse trailer.

    Let’s imagine a first scenario: you own your own horse, but they board at a nearby farm or stables.

    Finding a suitable vehicle for a horse trailer

    In this situation, you’ll be needing a trailer to get them to:

    • Any competitions you might be attending
    • Any trails you want to try
    • An arena, if the farm or stables doesn’t have one
    • Any kind of professional like a trainer or riding coach, if they aren’t able to come to you

    If you’re trying to cut back your riding expenses, you may be able to borrow a trailer from the stables your horse is boarding at, or share one with a friend. But the point is you still need access to one.

    Alright, but let’s say your horse lives with you. Realistically your needs will actually be pretty similar – if you don’t have trails, or an arena, you’ll need to take a horse trailer out to them. Same with competitions, and visiting professionals.

    But we could even go the other way. Say you don’t even own a horse. Well – you could still need a trailer. If you’re leasing a horse, co-own one, or just ride one regularly enough to use them at competitions, having a trailer at your disposal will be so useful. You’ve got to get them to the competitions somehow, right?

    Essentially, having a truck and a trailer start becoming more of a necessity if you’re planning on showing your horse or if you’re keeping your horse at your own land but you don’t have a riding arena, and you want to practice your dressage or jumping skills. Or if you’re into hunter-jumper and you don’t have a course on your own property.

    There are tons of reasons why you might want to move around your horse and this becomes much trickier if you don’t have a truck and horse trailer combination with which to do so. 

    If you’re in the market for a trailer now, you can design your very own online and they’ll ship it to you:

    Let’s talk about a truck now.

    Why Would You Need to Buy a Truck? 

    Okay so like I said above, I was blissfully ignorant until pretty recently about trailering. It had just never occurred to me that vehicles below a certain horsepower (pun intended) just couldn’t pull a horse trailer.

    owning your first horse - do you need a truck?

    Think about it: an empty trailer usually weighs about 3,000 pounds. Add a 1,200 pound horse and your tack and you’re looking at anywhere between 6,000 and 7,000 pounds.

    That’s a lot to be towing!

    But even if you’ve made the decision not to get a trailer, there are a couple of other reasons why you’d want a larger vehicle.

    For one, unless you’re producing hay yourself, chances are you’re going to be picking some up for your horse. And that takes up a lot of space in a car. Other feed can also be heavy and unwieldy to transport.

    There’s also your equipment – tack like your saddle and bridle, grooming supplies, and your competition kit. It all adds up, and you’ll be grateful for the extra space in a larger vehicle.

    What to Look for in a Truck

    Given the above, there are really two critical things you’ll be looking for in a truck: sufficient power to pull a horse trailer, and enough room to store hay and your supplies.

    choosing a suitable truck

    Bearing that in mind, you have a lot of options available. You could even opt for something like a van, if it has enough horsepower.

    Good brands to have a look at are Ford and Chevrolet.

    As for price, that will vary a lot whether you’re buying used or new, and how many bells and whistles you want. The important part is that you make sure the truck you’re getting is in good enough shape to pull a trailer with a horse inside.

    Oh and a top tip: Make sure that you learn how to use the hitch on the back in order to connect the type of trailer that you’ve decided to buy! That’s another rookie error I made.

    A Final Note…

    I do want to just say here that while I advocate for buying a truck (or van) to pull your horse trailer, I totally think that other vehicles are suited to other lifestyles.

    Although I spend lots of time out in the wilderness, I spend most of my time in the city – and for that, I have previously had my aforementioned tiny hatchback, but right now I actually just rely on public transport. I’m lucky to live really close to amenities, and I’m trying to reduce my carbon footprint a bit.

    All this to say I know that being able to buy and own a truck is not only a privilege, but actually not necessarily suited to some activities. No way I want to try and park one downtown!

    But if you have the ability to buy one to work with your horse – I say go for it.

    Do you have any questions for me about getting a horse trailer or a truck? Let me know in the comments! Oh and if you’ve got a trailer, you can read here about how to train your horse to load into it!

    Happy riding 🙂

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