Truck Companies Pulling for Safety

Trailers decked out with lavish living quarters that would put some houses to shame are becoming increasingly popular in the competition and pleasure horse industries. However, these massive trailers can weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds (i.e., Sooner four-horse trailer with 10½-foot living quarters weighs 10,080 pounds) before ever adding horses, water, food, clothing, tack, dogs, etc.

Generally, most one-ton trucks are able to "pull" these big rigs down the road. The problem is that they have difficulty stopping the trailer's momentum within a reasonably safe distance.

Rick Rufenacht, vice-president of Monroe Truck Equipment marketing and sales, said, "One-tons are pulling more than they should be, and that can be very dangerous. They just don't have the stopping capability needed. If people are going to pull that much of a load, they need a bigger truck."

Big and Scary?

Rufenacht said one reason people might baulk at buying a bigger truck is their intimidation factor--they can look big and unwieldy to most people. In an effort to try to easy the transition to a larger, medium-duty truck, automotive companies are teaming up with equestrian-based companies. One such pairing is Cinch Jeans, Monroe, and General Motors (GM).

In June, GM introduced a new conversion line for its C4500/5500 Kodiak/TopKick series trucks with a Western influence. The truck is decked out with distressed leather seats embroidered with the Cinch logo, a Pioneer navigational system, backing and turning cameras, triple air ride system (chassis, cab, and seats), and an instrument panel and steering column that will make you quickly forget you're driving a 1½-ton vehicle. However, you're quickly reminded of its heavy suspension if you hit a bump or break in the road, especially if you don't have a trailer weighing down the rear axle.

"This truck is ideal for those needing the towing capabilities for fifth-wheel campers and horse trailers, yet have the desire to ride in style," said Ross Hendrix, General Motors director of marketing for commercial trucks and vans.

Other similar trucks in this category include Ford's F-650 and F-750 and International's 4100 and 4200 lines. Both of these manufacturers offer similar amenities to the consumer. Before hitting the dealer lots, do some research as to what each has to offer and compare it to your specific needs.

The Bottom Line

Almost all of these trucks were originally designed with commercial use in mind, but they have been modified and upgraded with comforts demanded by non-commercial consumers. However, the price of the truck usually reflects these add-on features.

The base model, medium-duty trucks (the stripped down, single-cab chassis) usually start around $25,000-$35,000, and conversion packages can easily reach $100,000 or more.

To find out what type of truck you need to pull your rig down the road, talk to your trailer's manufacturer. They will be able to help you calculate the necessary tow capacity for your specific towing needs. Then feel free to go truck shopping. When you're behind the wheel of one of these new "big rigs" for horse trailers, it doesn't really feel that scary.

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for .

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