What's New in Horse Trailers

Safety and strength are the focus of trailer companies' improvements today.

You're ready to make some changes concerning your showing or horse-traveling activities--perhaps you're scaling down a bit, trailering less horses to fewer and closer events so you don't need that six-horse trailer with the plush living quarters anymore. Or maybe you're stepping up and are ready to commit a few extra bucks toward a trailer that provides you with the amenities that make hauling and traveling with your horses easier, more pleasant, and more comfortable. What can you expect to see in the new models?

Because the horse trailer industry is a rather small segment of the automotive/recreational industry, slim sales and profits at both the manufacturing and dealer levels leave little money for research and development, states Tom Scheve, CEO of EquiInternational Inc. (which owns Equi Spirit Trailers). Consequently, the introduction of new models and new features occurs more slowly, and on a smaller scale, than what occurs in the auto industry.

"Horse trailer manufacturers tend to stay focused on improving production, maintaining equipment and workers, and maintaining dealer relationships rather than investing in many new design changes or innovative new features," Scheve notes. "But where things are changing, they're changing for the better."

Scheve, who co-wrote The Complete Guide To Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer with his wife, Neva, says, "Crowded roads, more intelligent buyers, more expensive horses, and family safety have demanded that more manufacturers pay attention to safety," he points out. "The Internet has provided an incredible medium to research and learn about horse trailers. It's dawning on many manufacturers that they need to offer new safety features and designs if they want to grab their share of the market."

The majority of newer features deal with improved construction, safety, convenience, and economy--the practical stuff--as well as amenities and purchasing options.


Galvannealed steel (carbon steel that's zinc-coated by using a continuous hot-dip process), galvanized steel, powder coated steel, and stainless steel--all rust-resistant metals--are effectively working their way back into the mix of materials for horse trailers, Scheve says. "For many years, building with almost all aluminum has been an industry standard because it resists rust (but not corrosion)," he states. "But pound-per-pound, steel is stronger, plus steel is easier to repair, holds its shape under duress (tensile strength), suffers less damage in minor and major accidents, and costs less. In addition, consumers are becoming more aware of the negatives of aluminum as it is used in dividers (it can tear and rip), flooring (it's rigid and it can become hot), and in overall upkeep (corrosion from alkaline in urine and manure and breakage is possible). You will most likely see more and more manufacturers producing trailers that are composite-built--using a variety of materials."

Stall Design

Many horse owners are finding that most standard slant load stalls are too small for their horses, and they've found the design can create safety difficulties for some, due to not being able to unload the front individual horses without removing others, Scheve states. "The four-horse center load (head-to-head) is seeing a surge in growth (increased sales); despite its long length (35-36 feet)," he says. "The center load design promotes safety in loading and unloading, provides good air flow, a nonclaustrophobic climate, and is extremely user-friendly for working out of at shows."


Brighter, long-lasting, and energy- efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lighting has been replacing standard bulb lights on most horse trailers. Says Randy Lewis, national sales manager at Featherlite Trailers, "LED strip lighting that lines the ceiling on both sides of the horse area offers a lighter area for loading and traveling."

Halogen lamps, which cast very bright light, are used in some models as exterior load lights.

Larger Sizes

Standard heights, widths, and lengths of stalls have increased over the last three years. "This has been a real plus for horses by allowing horses to better balance, to adjust positions, and to stretch their necks and heads (enabling them to cough out dust/hay in airways)," says Scheve. "The overall result is reducing stress and sickness while increasing comfort and climate."

Lockable Latch Systems

Paddle latches on some models now have a key lock system on rear and side doors, making the trailer more secure against theft.


The 45-degree sloped fronts on some models offer improved aerodynamics, thus increasing fuel savings, says Ellen Terry, marketing coordinator of Cimarron Trailers

Living Quarters

The popularity of camping with horses (along with friendlier financing) has caused a growth in the sale of living quarter trailers over the last five years, Scheve states. A perusal of the Internet sites of various horse trailer manufacturers illustrates how much the living space, amenities, and comfort levels rival those offered in "regular" trailers.

Buying Long Distance

"Full-service horse trailer dealerships are few and far between," Scheve notes, "so buyers aren't so concerned about buying locally for service. Consequently, more and more customers are shopping nationwide for the best price. However, many customers are finding their savings are not worth the problems if the dealer or manufacturer is not proficient in long- distance selling, delivery, and service. Check their policies concerning how they handle day-of-delivery, return policies, if the drivers are bonded, follow-up, warranty, and continued service after the sale."

The Internet has eased long-distance shopping; Web sites provide lots of information and photographs on the various models, better allowing prospective customers to select and narrow down the models and options before investing the time and cost in making the trip for an on-site inspection.

Additionally, the Internet has caused competition to grow dramatically, Scheve says. "This has driven down prices at the dealer level," he notes. "Now that the same make and model can be shopped at a lot more dealers, customers have been able to effectively get dealers to do more discounting to get the deal. This helps the buyer get a better price, but the slim profit the dealer gets makes it hard for her/him to service customers after the sale, especially if there is a problem."


If it's been a while since you purchased your trailer, you'll find there is a wealth of information available to help you choose one that will fit your safety and user needs. You can also expect to find today's models offering more in practical features and increased comfort. Decide what designs and features you need (or desire) in a horse trailer, then check the ads in your favorite horse magazines or do a keyword search on the Internet to find dealers. You can also locate horse trailer manufacturers through The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (785/272-4433; www.natm.com).

Cimarron Trailers Inc.
P.O. Box B, Chickasha, OK 73023
info@cimarrontrailers.com www.cimarrontrailers.com
Norstar VP (Value Package developed to provide customers with a price-competitive model without all the frills) features all aluminum construction, two dome lights in the stall area, insulated roof, heavy-duty fold-down feed doors, and fold-away wall between stalls and rear tack.   Silver aluminum sheet is available as an exterior finish option, and a sloped roof maximizes living quarters. Optional glide-outs, hay pods with a 45-degree sloped front (improved aerodynamics), and a roof-mounted generator platform (frees up storage space) are also available.
EquiInternational Inc. (EquiSpirit Trailer Company)
P.O. Box 1987, Southern Pines, NC 28388 877/575-1771 equispirit@earthlink.com www.equispirit.com
SafeLoad 3, a three-horse straight-load/diagonal, is a step between a two-horse gooseneck and a four-horse center load/head-to-head. Each horse can be loaded and unloaded separately without removing the others. The trailer carries three large horses comfortably in a shorter trailer (28½-29½ feet), and it converts easily into a very manageable, easy-to-pull two-horse straight-load trailer. Horse'n Tack, a single-horse trailer in the size of a two-horse nondressing room-style trailer, allows one horse to have more than 10 feet of stall length, with the rest of the space divided into tack and hay areas. Fully loaded, the trailer will not weigh over 4,500 pounds, which means a wider choice of SUVs or cars can be used as tow vehicles. Quick release breast bar pin (safety feature), full height doors with ramp-over on straight-loads (provides a stronger, more secure enclosure), exterior horse door safety latches (prevents door from being kicked or jostled open), Dexter Nev-R-Lube axles (encased wheel bearings that never need lubricating), interior door latch guards (so horses can't play with them), Goodyear ST/225C (each tire rated to hold 330 more pounds of weight, meaning increased carrying capacity), and an Equine Roadside Emergency Assistance Plan (in conjunction with US Rider, a one-year, 24-hour equine emergency plan).
Featherlite Inc.
P.O. Box 320, Hwy 9 & 63 Cresco, IA 52136 800/800-1230 www.fthr.com
The Medalist Series, available on over 85 models in bumper pull, gooseneck, and living quarters platforms, includes an electric saddle rack that extends down and out from the trailer with the push of a button, LED strip lighting, larger stall pads than prior models, "safety guard" cushioned stall pads, radius rear frame with wraparound lights (lights on the rounded back corners of trailer, for added visibility), aluminum skin, chrome glass windows and feed doors (help reflect light and heat from the horse area), internal rear door hardware (streamlines and simplifies the trailer exterior), and heavy-duty camper doors.
Harmar Inc.
58456 County Rd 3 South Elkhart, IN 46517 574/294-1269 INHARMAR@aol.com www.harmarlq.com
The Trail Rider has a steel frame, aluminum skin and roof, treated wooden floor under the horse area, and truck-bed-lining-style finish under the gooseneck, fenders, and other places (extends looks and wear).
Logan Coach
870 W 800 N Logan, UT 84321 800/742-7047 www.logancoach.com
The Aluminum XT and Aluminum XTR are aluminum trailers reinforced with galvanized frame rails and wall posts for a more affordable, structurally sound aluminum trailer.Also available in a two-horse straight-load "Warmblood Edition." The Edge, a slightly stripped-down version of the XT or XTR for those who require great features and good looks in a lower-priced aluminum trailer.  
Weber Trailers
914 Williams St. Granview, OH 43212 419/969-0013 jhenry@yourweber.com www.yourweber.com
    Rumbar flooring system made of 2-inch-by-6-inch tongue and groove rubber (eliminates problems of urine getting under the mats and oxidizing/rotting floors), electric over-hydraulic braking system, rivetless and seamless smooth skin with bonding agent (three times stronger than mechanical or aircraft taping system), insulated aluminum skin throughout (improved temperature control), larger windows (better ventilation and ease-of-use), full LED outside lighting, and electric over-hydraulic jack(s) on all trailers with living quarters.

About the Author

Marcia King

Marcia King is an award-winning freelance writer based in Ohio who specializes in equine, canine, and feline veterinary topics. She's schooled in hunt seat, dressage, and Western pleasure.

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