The many different types of horse trailers available are overwhelming!
It’s a huge investment and understand how important it is to get it right.
You no doubt want the safest and best you can afford to carry your precious four-legged friend.
I’ve got you covered with this handy guide to each of the main horse trailer types that you’ll encounter.
3 Different Types Of Horse Trailers
Horse trailers are designed to carry anywhere from one to several horses. They come in many different configurations, which for some horses is important as they have preferences for how they like to travel.
Let’s get started, so you can find the best style for you and your horse.
#1 Bumper Towed Horse Trailers
Bumper pull horse trailers have a bit of a strange name, at least I think so. You don’t actually attach them to your bumper but instead, they connect to the hitch on your truck that sits below the bumper.
Bumper towed horse trailers are usually the smallest, lightest, and most affordable options.
They carry one to four horses, with some including a separate area to store your gear or even as feed storage during a long trip.
This type of horse trailer, when hooked up to your vehicle has the shortest total length, which makes them easier to drive for some people.
They also take up less space when not in use. As many are lighter weight, even with a horse on board, you can tow them with some types of SUVs.
However, if considering this option I suggest you stay away from options that take more than two horses as the weight puts too much strain on the hitch.
I feel this is just too risky, especially with your beloved horse inside. Stick to a two-horse trailer for the most safety.
Another thing to think about is the size of your horse. If you have larger horses, they might not like traveling in bumper pull trailers as they have less overall room.
Some people find this type of trailer riskier to drive as they are not a stable as alternative styles.
They can sway on the road which can increase your risk of an accident and it is easier to overload yourself by pulling it with a vehicle that does not have the correct rating for it.
Check: All About Horse Trailer Rental
#2 Gooseneck Horse Trailer
Gooseneck horse trailers are probably the most common design you’ll see in use by equestrians. They are bigger than bumper-pull trailers and can carry two to six horses.
Gooseneck trailers attach to a pickup truck over the rear axle. This provides a few advantages.
Its connection on the rear axle makes your entire setup much more stable. You will find that even though your total length is longer, there is less swaying.
A gooseneck also allows for more horse room and human storage space. Tack areas can be larger, stalls are bigger, and it is possible to include a living area.
If you spend a lot of time on the road a living area provides home comforts and can save you accommodation costs.
One advantage I really like about gooseneck trailers is that you can get them with a side-loading option.
This means horses can walk out front first instead of backing out. This makes life easier and most horses prefer this.
However, the benefits come at a cost. Gooseneck trailers are more expensive than bumper pulls and some other options. You will also need a truck that is powerful and strong enough to tow it.
Using a gooseneck involves installing a specially designed horse trailer hitch into the truck bed. Also, they are much longer than a bumper pull, which means you’ll need more space to keep it when you aren’t using them.
#3 Living Quarter Horse Trailers
Liver quarter horse trailers are ideal for equestrians that travel to shows frequently or enjoy camping with their horses. You can find anything from basic to luxury interiors, with custom options commonly available.
Most of these trailers are gooseneck in design. They essential combine a camper with a horse trailer in one. You can even fit them with small kitchens, a large bed, and a seating area.
5 Types of Horse Trailers Stall
Horse trailers come in a variety of stall configurations that range from rear-facing, slants, stock, straight load, and full box stalls.
#1 Stock Horse Trailers
Stock trailers are popular with some equestrians as they are often cheaper than other types. However, despite their popularity, they are more suited to stock such as pigs and sheep.
In fact, I would never put my horse in one, unless it was the only option in an emergency.
A classic stock trailer has an open plan, this means it has no dividers, though it is possible to find those with them. Horses use dividers for support when traveling and without them, there is a greater risk of falling or stepping on their neighbor.
Another feature of stock trailers is that they have open slats on the site. This gives the misguided impression of creating more airflow and keeping your horse cooler.
However, what keeps really regulates trailer temperature is the materials it is made with and good, but safe ventilation.
There are aluminum trailers and steel horse trailers. Each material has advantages and disadvantages, but that’s a topic for another day.
Open slats do not provide safe ventilation for horses. There is a much higher risk of eye injury with open slates as debris from the road can easily blow inside.
If you do use a stock trailer to transport your horse, then I recommend always putting a fly mask on to reduce eye injuries.
Another problem created by the open slats in the trailer body is noise from the road, especially when on the highway! This can be very distressing for a horse.
Stock trailers have several safety concerns that another horse trailer design won’t have. They do not have a ramp and instead are a step-up trailer.
#2 Slants Horse Trailers
A horse slant trailer has dividers that fit on an angle. This means that the horse travels in a diagonal position, instead of facing forward or backward.
When you have all your horses loaded their heads will be on one side and their backside on the other.
A benefit of a slant load horse trailer is that the configuration creates more space without adding length. Slant dividers don’t provide as much space for a horse to balance and also have less headroom.
Some horses like to travel in a diagonal position, while others might feel too cramped.
Another good feature of slants is that you can push them to the side making the inside more open when loading horses. This is really good for horses that aren’t good loaders.
One feature of a slant trailer that I don’t love is that the door is at the back. This means to get to the horses at the front, all the others have to come off via the rear ramp.
Here’s an example of a slant trailer:
#3 Straight Load Horse Trailers
Straight load trailers mean that the door is at the rear. This means that the horse walks straight in and travels facing forward. This configuration almost always comes in just a two-horse option with a center divider.
To unload, horses will have to back out, which some horses don’t like. However, with these horses, patient training helps them do this comfortably.
#4 Rear Facing Horse Trailer
A rear-facing horse trailer is the opposite of a straight load. In these trailers, horses face the rear, so are essentially traveling backward. With some gooseneck configurations, some horses will be in a rear-facing position.
Usually, if you are looking at a two-horse rear-facing trailer it will have two ramps, one on the side for loading and one on the back for unloading.
This means that the horse will not have to back out, which many will appreciate. Studies have found that rear-facing is an excellent way for horses to travel.
They tend to find it easier to balance and thus are less likely to fall or bounce off the divider.
Also, many owners will swear their horses are much happier to travel in this position.
#5 Box Stall
A box stall is a configuration option that some trailers have. This means that you can remove or reposition dividers to create a stall. The horse then travels loose in the stall. These are ideal for horses traveling long distances.
One worry about long-distance travel is that the horse cannot put its head down which can lead to travel sickness.
With a box stall, the horse can put its head down, preventing travel sickness. Box stalls are also excellent for foals traveling on their own, or mares with foals at foot.
Which Type Of Horse Trailer is Recommended?
Small horse trailers, such as a bumper pull are the least expensive. The best bumper pull horse trailer is one that takes safety the most seriously. It will be designed so that the maximum weight sits over the axles and is well distributed.
They will also have excellent ventilation, such as roof vents and well-padded dividers.
Also, make sure that it has an escape route for humans at the front in case a horse panics. It will also have top-class brakes and an emergency break-away system. Featherlite bumper pull trailers are a good brand to look into.
The most expensive horse trailer is a gooseneck with luxury living quarters.
I also recommend using a gooseneck if you have the right towing vehicle and can stretch your budget for one.
It doesn’t have to have living quarters but they are safer, more stable, and have more configuration options.
I’m sure you have a million questions about horse trailers. Who wouldn’t when trying to make such an important decision! Here I’ve answered a few common questions for you.
Can you use a horse trailer as a stall?
With some horse trailers, you can create a stall but this is only suitable for traveling. As a fixed stall for a horse, I don’t recommend it. For most horses, they are too small for the horse to move or lie down comfortably. They also get too hot or too cold when stationary.
Are slant load horse trailers better?
Slant load trailers are inviting to horses when they are loaded and many like to travel diagonally. They also mean you and take the horse off headfirst. However, some horses don’t like the lack of headspace. They are good, but not necessarily better.
How long should you trailer a horse?
You should stop every four to six hours for a 20-minute rest, offer water, and if possible let horses put their head down. 12 hours is thought to be the max before stopping for an overnight break. Some people push this to 18 hours but the risks of stress and transport illnesses increase greatly at 12 hours.
What is the difference between a stock trailer and a horse trailer?
A stock trailer is designed for stock and not horses, though many people use them for horses. They have open slats in the sides and usually don’t have dividers. Horse trailers are designed specifically for them. They are enclosed and have safety and comfort features suitable for horses.
Can a horse ride backward in a trailer?
Yes, in fact, many horses prefer this. However, it needs to be in a trailer with stalls designed for this purpose.
What do horse trailers weigh?
Depending on the size a horse trailer weighs 2,300 to just under 10,000 pounds. That is before you put in any horses and gear, which increases the total weight significantly.
I’ve covered all the main types of horse trailers here. I hope it’s helped you learn what’s available. When looking to purchase, seek out the best horse trailer brands that have a reputation for safety and durability. Another thing I recommend you learn is about vehicle weight and what the true amount trailers and tow vehicles can handle. Happy travels!
- Heath, Brad. 2014. “Nine Signs of Safe Bumper Pull Horse Trailers.” Double D Trailers. Double D Trailers. March 18, 2014. https://www.doubledtrailers.com/nine-signs-of-safe-bumper-pull-horse-trailers/.
- ———. 2019. “When Is a Stock Trailer the Right Choice?” Double D Trailers. Double D Trailers. October 16, 2019. https://www.doubledtrailers.com/when-is-a-stock-trailer-the-right-choice/.
What type of horse trailer do you use? Let us know in the comments below!