Having your own equine transport can make all the difference to your life with horses. It gives you the freedom to go wherever you like — clinics, camps, competitions, you name it. But transport doesn’t come cheap, so do your homework before you buy.
No longer the poor relation of the horsebox, trailers now offer everything from streamlined bodies for easy towing, state of the art suspension systems for a comfortable ride, to live-in accommodation and much more.
The following questions will help you determine exactly what it is you want from a new set of wheels so that you can find the right trailer for you.
The DVLA recently announced plans to scrap trailer tests in autumn 2021. Even when this new law comes into force, it is still important to have towing training so that you learn how to tow smoothly, safely for the benefit of your horse.
It will also help to keep you, your horse and other road users safe. As well as giving you confidence to be out on the road and able to reverse and hitch up/unhitch confidently.
What’s your towing vehicle?
All cars have a maximum recommended towing weight. This is usually listed in the vehicle handbook, or on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate. When towing a trailer, remember that the weight of the trailer and its load must not exceed the maximum towing weight of the car, so check this before buying.
If your car can pull up to 2000kg and the trailer you’re thinking of buying has an unladen (unloaded) weight of 800kg then you can load no more than 1200kg in it, which includes everything — your horse, tack, food, water, fuel etc.
How does he like to travel?
Travelling facing forwards is the conventional way but you can now buy trailers where your horse travels backwards, with his quarters at the front and there are even ones that offer a herringbone set up — these are perhaps worth looking in to if your horse is used to this style of travelling in a horsebox.
Every horse is different and it’s a case of understanding what your horse prefers. Researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy and Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Australia*, studied horses in transit. They found that horses facing backwards and standing in wider bays show less signs of stress- and balance-related behaviours than those transported facing forwards and in smaller bays.
How do you want him to load?
Innovative ramp design has made the prospect of loading into a trailer far more inviting from your horse’s point of view. Instead of the traditional rear fold-down ramp, there are now American-style rear doors with a short pull-out ramp, not to mention rampless trailers, which allow your horse to step in and out with ease, eliminating the risk of slipping on the ramp.
Which other features are most important?
Modern technology and materials mean that safety is at the forefront of all the latest trailer designs. Quality rubber matting on the floor, while emergency-release breast bars are commonly found on many models and an aluminium floor adds strength and longevity compared to wood. Windows and vents are also key features to consider as they allow in light and air, making the trailer more welcoming for your horse.
What extras do you need?
Some trailers offer more space than others. If you’re likely to spend time away overnight with your horse, it’s worth considering how much a trailer has to offer in terms of storage and even living space. There are some trailers available that offer some pretty smart live-in accommodation and tack storage areas. Bear in mind that these features will up the price, and don’t forget to check their unladen weight.
9 tips for buying secondhand
A popular chic for many is buying a used trailer. Here are our tips for picking the right one:
- Make sure you inspect the trailer thoroughly or get someone more knowledgeable than you to do this for you
- Do what you can to check it’s not stolen
- Lift the mats and check the condition of the floor and ramps, prodding and poking to check for softness. Rotten, moist or damaged floors are dangerous
- Check that the electrics connection on the trailer’s lights to the car isn’t corroded
- Look at any hinges and springs: have they been greased recently?
- Ensure all tyres are in good condition and their pressure is correct
- Hitch it up and take it for a test drive to see how it handles
- Check that the ramps aren’t too heavy
- Ask to see any paperwork relating to servicing or repairs.
Read the BHS’s advice for buying a secondhand trailer here.
Shop for a trailer
Here are some of the new trailers currently available on the market:
Cheval Liberté Touring Country
RRP: £5,425 + VAT
Unladen weight: 850kg
For more info: chevaltrailers.co.uk
This sleek and aerodynamic front unloading double horse trailer offers comfort and ease of towing. It even has a built-in tack room saving you space in your towing vehicle. You can transform the opening at the rear of the trailer from a ramp to a barn door, and back again to suit your horse.
The Pullman 2 suspension offers a lowered floor height and great handling qualities, absorbing shocks from poor road surfaces, and reducing trailer noise and movement, helping to keep your horse relaxed. The trailer has a light and airy interior with four sliding windows and an Airtech rear roller. These all encourage air flow and ventilation.
RRP: from £11,299 + VAT
Unladen weight: 1,195kg (dependent on final specification)
For more info: equi-trek.com
The Night-Treka is a rear facing, spacious two-horse trailer with overnight accommodation. The living area comes complete with a bench seat that converts into two sleeping bunks, wardrobe, stainless-steel sink with gas hob and a water carrier, along with a fold-down table.
The horse area has 7ft 9inch headroom, a low side ramp, safety doors and aluminium flooring. The wood-free structure has lightweight composite panels for strength, and aerodynamic body styling. A tack locker holds two saddles and two bridles. Available extras include a digital camera with 7” monitor, a storage rack and a leisure battery.
Ifor Williams HBX511
RRP: from £7,211 + VAT
Unladen weight: 950kg
For more info: iwt.co.uk
The HBX511 delivers the highest levels of comfort and safety with an all-aluminium body and stunning sleek roof design. It also has many innovative and intelligent new features, with a large rear side hinging combination ramp, offering dual functionality. It has side windows, a large inspection window and centre partitions.
The HBX511 is ideal for transporting two horses up to 17.2hh and is available with the option of either a front ramp or a built-in tack locker.
This range offers added extras such as padding boards, high level brake light, diamond-cut alloy wheels and first-to-the-market integral awning accessory.
RRP: from £4,300 + VAT
Unladen weight: 860kg
For more info: batesontrailers.com
A front unloading trailer with generous headroom allowing horses of up to 17hh to be transported in comfort. The floor is made of rot-proof plastic and galvanised steel for total security, and the thick rubber mats are removable.
The centrally hinged division is very easy to operate and allows plenty of space for entry and exit. The Deauville has a double internal saddle rack and cover that can remain in place during unloading. The larger front window incorporates a coupling mirror. Combined with the white interior it gives a light and airy environment and allows a view of the horse during transit.
Fautras Oblic + 2
Unladen weight: 980kg
For more info: fautras.com
To encourage easy loading this trailer has an American-style step-in entrance (consisting of two barn doors and no ramp). The Fautras Tech flexible partition gives your horse a sense of space and the herringbone travelling position helps him to balance as he has room to spread his hind legs.
This trailer can accommodate two large horses and also has a separate tack area. The Oblic + 2 also features a rot-proof floor that is guaranteed for life, and rubber matting is fitted throughout. Three large windows provide light and ventilation. Optional extras include a courtesy locker and trailer cam.