Tuesdays with Tony
You may have noticed Dr. Vurgason and her horse Smokey galavanting around town in their new horse trailer. Now who do you think Dr. V asked for advice about which horse trailer to get? That’s right- the one and only Tony! After all, I spend most of my day every day watching various makes and models of horse trailer pull around this office building. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly! As a result, I consider myself quite the expert.
As a vet clinic cat, you shouldn’t be surprised that the first thing I’m going to tell you to consider in a horse trailer is safety. Now I’m all for buying a used trailer—that’s definitely how you’re going to find the best deal—however, you do need to make sure it’s safe. Look at and ask about the floors. Pull up any mats and check the condition of the boards or metal underneath. You also want to check out the tires and see if they are ready to be replaced. If your tire were to go flat during a haul, it could cause a serious accident. In addition, be sure to look and feel inside every square inch of that trailer for sharp things—because we all know how good horses are at seeking those out!
I would strongly recommend having a used trailer professionally inspected before purchase. Heck even if you’re not buying a new trailer it’s not a bad idea to get your Old Faithful checked out about once a year. After all, you’re going to be hauling a live animal in that thing, not just a sofa or something! The pros will make sure all your welds are strong, your hinges aren’t too rusty, and your floors are in good condition. One more word on safety, then I’ll get off my cat box: you should never have any loose items in the trailer when you are hauling a horse. So if you are planning on hauling anything in addition to your horse (hay bales, tack trunks, jump poles, barrels, buckets, etc.) consider a trailer with a separate tack room or floor-to-ceiling dividers between stalls.
The next most important thing for us Floridians to consider in a horse trailer is air flow. There are several different options horse trailer manufacturers use to achieve some air movement inside those hot metal boxes. These range from sliding windows, to open slats (especially in stock trailers), to drop-down windows. The air flow inside a trailer can be further supplemented by front or ceiling air vents, built-in fans, or even air conditioning! Now even the coolest, most open stock trailer is going to get pretty toasty if you pack enough horses in there. So, remember to consider your packing density and the climate when selecting a trailer.
Now as long as the trailer is safe and cool enough that your horse isn’t going to overheat, the rest just comes down to personal preference—of both you and your horse. I’ll tell you from my observations at the clinic, horses are a bit claustrophobic; they don’t like walking into small, narrow, dark spaces. So if you have a young horse or one who might not be the best at loading, you may want a trailer that opens completely in the back, and is very bright and inviting. There is much debate on whether horses prefer to load on a ramp or a step-up; my cat conclusion is that horses like what they are used to. With the right combination of patience, treats, and training, any horse will load on any trailer.
There are a couple more items to consider when selecting your dream trailer. Perhaps most importantly, how much can your vehicle tow? Remember that you need to add the weights of each horse plus the weight of the trailer, and that weight should be well below the maximum towing capacity for your vehicle. Almost all new trailers are aluminum, which is much lighter than the older models. However, some people report the aluminum trailers are less robust and less sturdy than their older counterparts.
In general with horse trailers, the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is true. If one brand is less expensive than another, it is probably more cheaply made, and thus may not hold up as well or last as long as a more expensive trailer of a more reputable brand. Also keep in mind if you are ever planning on selling your trailer that the more expensive big-name brand trailers tend to hold their value better.
Hopefully I’ve given you some things to consider before your next major trailer purchase. Now all you need is another horse to haul in it, right?
Don’t forget to come out to my annual Piggy Ice Cream Social this Saturday from 10:00-noon. Whether you own a pet pig or not, believe me you don’t want to miss this entertaining event!
Until next week,
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!