When looking for a trailer to transport horses, many horse owners consider both horse trailers and livestock trailers. Horse trailers have a reputation for being more aesthetically pleasing, since they're more likely to be brought to shows and competitions than trailers made for livestock. The advantages that a horse trailer has over a livestock trailer, however, are much more than mere looks. If you're looking for a trailer to use when transporting horses, here's why you should limit your search to horse trailers.
Horse Trailers Are Taller
First, because horses are larger than many other kinds of domestic animals, horse trailers tend to be taller than livestock trailers. EquiSpirit recommends the following heights for a horse trailer, depending on the how big the horses being transported are:
- trailers with a height of 7 feet can accommodate horses up to 16 hands
- trailers with a height of 7 feet 6 inches can accommodate horses up to 16-3 hands
- trailers with a height of 7 feet 8 inches can accommodate horses up to 18 hands
(The size of the horse that can be accommodated also depends on the width and length of the trailer.)
On the other hand, many livestock trailers aren't large enough to fit even horses measuring 16 hands. For example, Valley Trailers makes several livestock trailers that do measure 7 feet high and could accommodate a 16-hand horse. This is their tallest livestock trailer, though, and many of their models have a height of only 6 feet 6 inches.
Thus, unless you specialize in miniature horses or another diminutive type of horse, you'll need a horse trailer so that your horses can stand inside the trailer. Even if you do have small horses, you may still want a taller trailer in case you decide to begin raising larger horses in the future.
Horse Trailers Have Stronger Axles
Second, large horse trailers' axles are often stronger than the axles on similarly sized livestock trailers. Because livestock trailers are frequently used to transport lighter animals, such as sheep and goats, manufacturers don't have to upgrade a livestock trailer's axle as much when they increase the trailer's size. Manufacturers of horse trailers, however, have to put heavy duty axles in any large horse trailer they make, because horses weigh so much.
Thus, even though a large livestock trailer may be able to fit three or four short horses, it might not have an axle that can support the weight of all the horses. Despite a livestock's trailer size, it may only be strong enough to transport one horse.
Step-Up Trailers Are Difficult for Horses to Get Out Of
There are two types of livestock and horse trailers. Step-up trailers have steps that animals use to get in and out of. Ramp trailers have ramps for the animals to use.
While horse trailers are available in both step-up and ramp versions, ramp trailers are much easier for horses to use. They often have a difficult time -- and can sometimes slip -- when backing out of a trailer on steps. Ramps provide more space for them to find footing.
Livestock trailers usually have step-up features. Models that are used to transport cattle sometimes have a space for cattle to jump out of, which the animals are able to do just fine. Models that are used for smaller animals, like pigs, donkeys, goats and sheep, don't need a ramp because these animals can turn around inside the trailer. They can walk in, turn around and walk out without needing to back up at all.
While you might find a livestock trailer that has a ramp, you'll have an easier time finding horse trailers that have ramps.