Knowing the difference between a horse trailer vs stock trailer is vital to ensure the comfort and safety of your horse during travel.
Although I have never driven a trailer myself, I have heard stories of accidents and other scary situations that can happen while transporting horses in livestock trailers and horse trailers.
In this article, I will detail both options so that you can make the best decision for your horses and make sure they get from place to place in one piece.
CHECK: Best Two Horse Trailer Review
What Is the Difference Between a Horse Trailer and Stock Trailer?
Even though they are similar at first glance, there are quite a few differences between a stock trailer vs horse trailer. Let’s explore each option.
What is a Stock Trailer?
Livestock trailers, or stock trailers as they are often called, are trailers made for transporting livestock like cows, sheep, and goats. 
They come in various designs such as enclosed, fence, and van, and are usually aluminum or steel trailers. Each design has slightly different construction, with the fence offering the most exposure to the elements.
These types of trailers can have multiple levels if desired to transport large loads of animals at one time. There are even several types of insulation to ensure that the animals inside are comfortable.
Not all livestock trailers are suitable for horses as they will be too small or not have enough height.
Here is a video showcasing an enclosed stock trailer so you can get a sense of what this type of trailer looks like in person.
What is a Horse Trailer?
As the name suggests, horse trailers are designed specifically for transporting horses to their destination. They come in a variety of types of trailer for horses, such as a gooseneck trailer and a bumper pull trailer.
Horse trailers are made of aluminum or steel, and can be designed to fit one or multiple horses. If you travel with a horse often, you may want to consider a trailer with a tack room and or living quarters, so you have a place to rest overnight.
Horse trailers have flat bottoms so your horse can stand comfortably as well as a place to hang hay so your horse can munch on the road. They also should have rubber matting on the floor for safety.
I have always dreamed of hooking a trailer up to a truck and going off to a horse show or a multiple-day trail ride with my best friends from the barn.
It hasn’t happened yet, but I can dream, right?
Here is a video showcasing a two-horse bumper pull trailer so you can learn more about it.
Horse Trailer vs Stock Trailer Comparison Table
Now that you know a little bit more about the differences between a horse trailer vs stock trailer. Here is a table so that you can view the differences side by side.
|Horse trailer||Stock trailer|
|Average Height||7 ft 6 in||6 ft 6 in|
|Average Width||7 ft||6 ft|
|Doors||Drop down ramp, or dutch doors the on back or side||Full swing gate in the rear with no ramps|
|Dividers||Multiple options to give horses their own space depending on the trailer. Typically center divider||Unless custom made, have gates instead of dividers|
|Build||Double walled, insulated, rubber lined for horse protection||Single wall with exposed metal, no insulation|
|Flooring||Smooth ribbed with rubber floor mats for traction and protection||Coagulated or ribbed treadplate- hard with little protection. Metal floors|
Horse trailers are made with horses in mind, while livestock trailers are meant to transport farm animals of all species short or long distances.
CHECK: Gooseneck Vs Bumper Pull
Pros and Cons of Horse Trailers vs Stock Trailers
Hauling horses in a stock trailer instead of a dedicated horse trailer will provide a different travel experience for your horse. Both options have positive and negative sides.
Cost of Stock and Horse Trailers
Horse trailers cost much more than stock trailers do, and they are hard to finance. Horse trailers range in price from $2,000 to well over $100,000, depending on the size and other features.
Livestock trailers are more affordable and can transport more for a lower cost. They can cost anywhere between $4,000 to $15,000.
Safety of Stock vs Horse Trailers
A horse trailer is much safer than a stock trailer for horses because they are designed with them in mind. Important safety features of horse trailers include insulated walls, butt bars, and rubber-lined floors to prevent slipping.
Horse trailers have more headroom and have dividers to keep horses separate to reduce the risk of fighting and stepping on each other.
The average stock trailer lacks these safety features, and ideally, a horse should not travel in them unless it’s an emergency. However, because they are more economical, many people use them to transport horses.
There is no way for horses to keep their balance, as they are no bars or dividers to give them support. Meaning they could fall over on acceleration and braking.
Horse trailers have better temperature control than stock trailers, lowering the risk of overheating and other temperature-related health problems. Take safety precautions if you have to use a stock trailer
One major difference that is a big safety issue is that horse trailers do not have slatted, open sides, which is standard with stock trailers.
This puts your horse at high risk of injury, particularly eye injury, from debris that can blow in from the road while driving. One way to reduce this risk is to put a fly mask on your horse if traveling in this type of trailer. 
Horse Comfort in Horse vs Stock Trailer
Horses will be more comfortable in a horse trailer instead of a stock trailer because of the design features built to suit them.
Most horse trailers even have a place to hang hay nets so that your horse can have something to munch on for the ride. They have suitable head space, support, and better temperature control.
Depending on the design of and the number of animals in the stock trailer, horses may feel cramped and or start to spook/initiate their flight response due to being in a tight space.
Bigger horses will not have enough room to hold their heads comfortably, and the metal flooring puts them at risk of falling.
This means they will be uncomfortable and stressed during short or long journeys.
Even though horse trailers are more costly, it is more beneficial to your horse in the long term if you can find a trailer within your budget.
How many hours can your horse travel in a trailer?
Horses can travel in a trailer safely for 12 hours at a time with multiple one-hour breaks for food and water. 
Can you transport horses in a stock trailer?
Horses can be transported in a stock trailer, and this is done quite commonly in North America. However, in an ideal world, hauling horses in a stock trailer should only occur in an emergency.
The debate between horse trailer vs stock trailer comes from the fact that they are similar but different pieces of equipment.
Although stock trailers are more budget-friendly, they lack safety features and insulation that can make it unsafe for horses to travel in them.
1. Livestock Trailer Safety – Ag Safety and Health [Internet]. ag-safety.extension.org. [cited 2022 Sep 26]. Available from: https://ag-safety.extension.org/livestock-trailer-safety/#:~:text=Livestock%20trailers%2C%20also%20referred%20to
2. Trailering Your Horse Safely [Internet]. Available from: https://equine.ca.uky.edu/files/trailering-your-horse-safely_0.pdf
3. Trailering 101 [Internet]. www.totalequinevets.com. Available from: https://www.totalequinevets.com/client-center/resources/TEVApedia/equine-trailering-101
Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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