Horse Trailer Features


Horse trailer design can be improved and this list of good and bad features will help you spot those that can be fixed on your own trailer to ensure safe travel for your horses.

It would be beneficial if more horse trailer manufacturers would seek the advice of experienced horsemen who have travelled and trained many horses to trailer load. They will have seen and heard of many accidents and injuries caused by poor trailer design.

I have yet to see a trailer that has no design faults from the horse’s point of view. That’s not to say they are bad trailers – the construction is often top quality, but as with most things to do with horses, the human’s needs are put first and the safety of the horse suffers.
There are probably many more features that I have not included here on both the safe and un-safe lists so if you can alert me in order to help others, please do.

Good Features

This centre divider can be safely fixed open (hole in the floor) so a horse can be given more room to balance when travelling alone – an extra clip might be needed to join the two breeching chains when the divider is not centered as loose chains rattle and can bump a horse’s hind legs when cornering.

FloatDivider

This is a better place to have a head divider – it stops the horses from getting their heads caught behind the centre roof support.

 

FloatGuard

 

Window bars with narrow spacing can stop a horse from putting a head or hoof through the front window if panicked or thrown forward in an accident.

FloatWindowBars

Good position of the spare tire so a rope can’t get caught under it, and filled in A-Frame towbar stops a horse putting a leg through if it tries to pass between the car and trailer.

FloatSpareTyreGood

A ‘Break-away’ attachment activates the trailer brakes if the trailer detatches from the vehicle.

FloatBreakawayHitch

Something to hold the front door open is essential to stop the door blowing shut and scaring or injuring a horse who may be looking out.

FloatDoorOpen

This type of door latch that folds away and stops the rope or halter from being
caught on it.

FloatGoodHandle

Even rubber covered ramps can be slippery when wet so rubber strips help. The extra length of this ramp gives it a nice, gentle slope.

FloatRamp

Having Tie-up points at the back makes more sense than tying horses seperately on the sides where they can’t see each other and may worry. This ramp latch is relatively safe if kept folded down close to the trailer side.

FloattieupRear

 

Good features to look for in a safe trailer/float:

  • Enough overall room for the horses you are towing

  • Enough roof height for the horses you are towing

  • Brakes that work – electric or over-ride

  • Heavy duty (light truck) tyres

  • Solid, sound flooring, preferably 2 layers of which one is steel

  • Strong welding & construction techniques

  • Rust protection underneath & around the front

  • Good ventilation – especially in hot climates

  • Removeable dividers – head, chest, centre

  • A way to fix centre divider open

  • Height adjustable chest bar

  • Centre pole guard

  • Smooth edges on mud guards/fenders

  • Safely located tie-up points so rope can’t get caught

  • Rear latches that a horse can’t get hooked on

  • Removeable rump bars that open wide enough

  • Fixed rubber matting on the floor and ramp

  • Guard/bars over large windows

  • Multiple tie-up points inside – recessed near head postion

  • A place to hang a feed bucket and tie a hay bag inside

  • Padding on chest bar, centre divider and sides

  • Padded roof supports so roof doesn’t rattle

  • Filled in A frame towbar

  • A device to keep front door open

  • Recessed latch on front door

  • Covered light fixtures

  • Break-away wire to activate brakes

  • Rear upper door or tarp for dust or rain that can be kept open while travelling in hot weather.

  • A light interior colour (white) is preferred by horses and makes the float look more spacious.

 Undesirable/Un-safe Features

  • Full length centre divider – doesn’t allow horses to spread their legs for balance.
  • ‘Stallion’ or head divider – also stops the horse using its head and neck for balance. Better positioned tie up points (to the side) can keep horses from bothering each other.
  • Spare tyre mounted near tie-up point – the lead rope can get hooked under it and cause a horse to pull back. (eg. below)

FloatSpareTyreBad

Rear latches that a horse can get the halter hooked on (eg. below)

FloatBadCatch Loose matting on the floor – it can move and slip, causing a horse to scramble while travelling.

Sharp edges on any part of the trailer (eg. at head height below)

FloatSharpEdge

  • Places a horse can get a leg/hoof caught such as in the A-frame towbar, near the lights at the back or near the mudguards.
  • Fixed dividers & chest bars – how do you release them if a horse falls?
  • Centre Divider rear post – horse rushing out can catch a leg.
  • Open A frame tow bar – if the horse tries to pass between the trailer and vehicle, it can trap and break a leg.
  • Rear upper doors that can’t be removed/kept open – dangerous to keep closed in the heat and may be too claustrophobic for some horses.
  • Protruding chest bar adjustment – easy to injure a shoulder on this if you turn a sharp corner (eg. photo below).

FloatBadDivider

This type of chest bar pin (below) can easily catch a halter and cause a pull back.

FloatBadPin

This rump bar doesn’t fully open so has to be removed before the horse comes out – if it rushes out then the ribs and shoulder may get injured.

FloatButtBar

Dark interiors make the inside look smaller and more claustrophobic.