A popular gooseneck horse trailer model is now rolling out of the Double D Trailers factory doors. We recently finished production on a 2+1 horse trailer – a first for our company.
This popular model has many appealing features, but we’ve long held off on building it. Why? Well, despite all of the 2+1 horse trailer’s perks, we still feel that the SafeTack 3 horse trailer is a better option. Here are the pros and cons of the 2+1 horse trailer so you can decide for yourself.
This 2+1 horse trailer design has been gaining popularity among horse owners over the last several years. It is a gooseneck horse trailer with two straight load stalls in the rear of the trailer with a third box stall towards the front. There is a dressing room compartment / tack room in the gooseneck portion of the trailer.
When asked why it was so popular, Double D Trailers owner Brad Heath laughed, “I wish I knew!” People seem to be attracted to the convenience of the forward box stall, which many people use as a prep space on show day. It works well for horse owners with three animals who also want a gooseneck dressing room area for relaxing or even spending the night.
As Brad said, “Not everyone likes the same thing…some people like Chevy, some like Ford.” If a 2+1 horse trailer is your dream trailer, then Double D Trailers would be happy to build a custom designed version just for you.
First, you may want to check out some of the pros and cons of this model so you can decide if the SafeTack 3 horse trailer may be an even better option.
Pro #1: Works Well for 3 Horses
If you wanted a straight load horse trailer that worked for three horses, you are limited in your options. Some manufacturers will cram all three horses side-by-side, but you’re left with narrow stalls and an extra-wide trailer design. The 2+1 solves this problem by placing your third horse in a box stall in front of the two rear straight-load stalls.
Pro #2: Box Stall for Show Day
The forward box stall is accessed by a separate side ramp and door, so it provides a convenient place for show day prep. Some people will tack up within this stall to get out of the rain or use this space to let their horse have a mid-day nap.
3 Horse SafeTack Comparison: Our 3 horse SafeTack horse trailer also has the ability to make a show day stall with a separate loading ramp and door. This slant load trailer has a front partition that can easily be swung over so you are using the space from the front two stalls to create an enclosure.
Pro #3: Store Larger Equipment in the Box Stall
Our 2+1 Horse Trailer has solid doors between the forward box stall and rear straight load stalls. This barrier prevents the front horse from bothering the rear animals. Plus, it makes a safe area for you to store large equipment like tack boxes or even small carts. It should be noted, that we’ve made many custom horse trailers with better storage solutions for carts, canoes, and even motorcycles. (More on this later…)
You may be surprised to see that we actually have a much longer list of cons for the 2+1 horse trailer design. Yes, we’d be happy to build it for you. No, we do not think it is the best option for a 3 horse trailer. Here’s why…
Con #1: Long Length and Drivability
A typical 2+1 trailer is going to have a length of around 22 feet. A very long trailer can be harder to maneuver along farm lanes or at the show grounds. Brad explained, “To me, a 2+1 horse trailer is a poor utilization of overall space. There is a lot of extra trailer to haul.”
This extra length is created by the straight load and box stall layout of the 2+1 design. We should mention that if a mid-tack storage area is added, the length will go even longer.
3 Horse SafeTack Comparison: The SafeTack 3 Horse Trailer is only 18-feet in length and makes much better use of the floor space with a slant load layout. In contrast to a conventional slant load, the SafeTack slant load design has an enclosed tack compartment in the rear corner of the trailer that swings out like a second door. This leaves a wide open area for loading and unloading.
Con #2: Front Box Stall is Not the Safest for Hauling
When a third horse is positioned in the box stall of a 2+1 trailer, they are left without any sort of security or support in the case of a sudden stop. There are also limited places to put padding. It’s like the third horse is an after-thought.
3 Horse SafeTack Comparison: In this trailer design, all three horses have identical and safe stalls with partitions to help the horses balance. Plus, the stalls are well-padded, so each horse is equally supported in the case of a sudden stop. (See 3 Horse SafeTack with show day stall in image below.)
Con #3: Front Horse Can Bother Back Horses
Oftentimes, 2+1 horse trailers are built without any sort of barrier between the front box stall and the rear straight load stalls. This means the front horse is free to nip or kick these rear horses during travel. In our 2+1 design, we include full length doors to prevent this problem.
3 Horse SafeTack Comparison: All three horses are separated by partitions with tubular head dividers. Horses can see their traveling companions and benefit from quality air and light flow, without having the freedom to bite and kick at each other.
Con #4: No Separate Tack Storage Area
In the 2+1 design, most owners choose not to add a mid-tack storage area because it adds to the length of an already-long trailer. This means, they must store their tack and grooming equipment in the gooseneck dressing room area. Not sure about you, but we think sleeping with smelly and dirty equipment isn’t ideal.
3 Horse SafeTack Comparison: The SafeTack designs allows you one and possibly two other areas to keep your equipment away from your dressing room. First, the SafeTack compartment in the rear corner of the trailer has racks for saddles, hooks for bridles, and an enclosed floor space for loose things like brushes and fly-spray. You can even add a hay bale rack to the side of this compartment.
Second, you can choose to include a mid-tack storage room between the horse area and the dressing room area. Since the SafeTack is a shorter 18-foot design, you can afford to add footage for the mid-tack if you want.
Con #5: Box Stall is Not Ideal for Storing Larger Items
As we mentioned before, many people will choose to store larger pieces of equipment in the forward box stall. In the case of a cart or carriage, you may need to load this through the back doors, in which case you’ll have to remove the horse dividers, center post, and box stall doors each time you wish to load or unload your cart.
3 Horse SafeTack Comparison: In contrast, with the SafeTack, you can simply swing over partitions to load or unload a cart or carriage. We’ve built several custom designs for storing carts, motorcycles, and even a canoe!
Con #6: Safety Concerns with Straight Load Horse Trailers
We’ve already outlined some of the safety concern associated with straight load trailers. In short, loading through a narrow straight load stall “hallway” can be difficult for many horses. Plus, these trailers tend to be longer with a higher tongue weight that can impact towability. Finally, we are not a fan of the danger that front chest bars can present. A horse that rears up can get a leg hooked over the bar.
3 Horse SafeTack Comparison: Our slant load SafeTack solves these problems. The trailer provides an easier walk on – walk off loading configuration that works for both forward or rear facing stalls. Plus, the shorter length is easier for towing. Finally, every horse is in their own enclosed stall without the danger of butt or chest bars.
Con #7: Large Horses May Not Fit Well in Box Stall
The specific size of the front box stall varies with the manufacturer. Our design tries to make the best use of space so that the front stall isn’t too cramped. Still, there are limitations and this front stall does tend to be a bit small.
3 Horse SafeTack Comparison: Our SafeTack design can be customized to fit large breed horses like Warmbloods. Extra width or trailer height can be added to easily fit 17+ hand horses. Plus, we can vary the size of the individual stalls. This works well if you have one very large horse and then one or two smaller animals that don’t need as much space.
Hopefully it’s clear by now – we think the SafeTack 3 horse trailer (image right) is a better option for a variety of reasons. It provides easier towing, more safety elements for the horses, and it still provides the convenience of a show day stall on a three horse trailer design.
Plus, the SafeTack design works well for both forward and reverse load horse trailer orientation with an easy walk on / walk off scenario. But, as we mentioned before, we will happily build the 2+1 trailer for you if you so desire.
As Brad explained, “We custom build to order so if a client insist on a particular layout, we will advise them (from a design perspective) on the pros and cons of various styles, but it's the client’s choice what they want.”
If you have any questions about either trailer model, feel free to contact Brad for help.
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