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A Guide to Horse Trailer Terminology

Another beautiful day has come and gone; and you’re kicking yourself for not finally buying a horse trailer so you and your horse can go trail riding far from home.  Pouring through the ads for horse trailers for sale has been a confusing proposition, though, and you usually end up more frustrated when you finish than you were when you started.  Don’t let horse trailer terminology take the wind out of your traveling sails. 


We’ve made a list of common horse trailer terms you’re likely to encounter while hunting for your next horse trailer. Here are some of the most common you may see in ads, on websites or in forums:


Bumper Pull.  A term used to describe trailers that are pulled via the ball on the bumper of your trailer.  Bumper pull trailers tend to be less expensive, but can be more difficult for many drivers to haul.


Cowboy Shower.  One of those must-haves for horse folks on the go without full living quarters in their trailers.  Cowboy showers typically consist of a sprayer that’s hooked to your water supply, heated or not.  They sound pretty primitive, but after several days at a horse outing, cowboy showers beat washing up in a horse trough!


Dressing Room.  Sometimes referred to as the tack room, a dressing room is a small finished area in the front of a horse trailer that can be used to store personal goods, unfold a cot or simply change before a horse event.


Escape Door.  Your horse would never intentionally put you in harm’s way, but sometimes trouble happens when it’s least expected.  Located at the front of the horse compartment, an escape door gives handlers a way to get out of danger quickly.


Gooseneck.  Unlike bumper pull trailers, gooseneck horse trailers have an extra storage area that extends over the back of your truck and a hitch that attaches to a special receiver in your bed.  Goosenecks can be more expensive, but afford a sleeping area for long distance travels and are much easier to turn than bumper pulls.


Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  If you’re wondering just how much weight a trailer can haul, refer to its GVWR.  This number is the maximum weight a trailer can handle, including its own weight, equipment and cargo.


Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR).  Like the GVWR, the GAWR is an expression of how much weight a trailer can handle, but on each of its axles instead of across the whole vehicle.


Head Divider.  When you’ve got horses in the trailer, the last thing you need is for them to get spooked and jump into the stall next to them.  Head dividers prevent this from happening by creating a head-height partition between horses.  Open dividers are much less stressful on horses than solid dividers.


Horse Compartment.  This is the part of the trailer that’s unfinished, where all your horses hang out during trips.  Even if you use part of this area for hay or feed storage, it’s considered the horse compartment if it’s not part of the tack room or living quarters.


Horse Stall.  Your horses should each have their own section in the trailer where they can comfortably get away from their neighbors.  This is your horse stall -- and horse trailers usually have two to four of them.


Living Quarters.  There’s nothing as neat as horse trailers with living quarters, they’re just like tiny apartments on wheels with a place for your horse in back.  Living quarters have come a long way and often feature handy storage, convertible living quarters and small, but fully-functioning kitchens and bathrooms.


Long Wall.  In a slant-load trailer, your living quarters or tack room will be more of a trapezoid than a proper square or rectangle, resulting in one wall being longer than the other.  The long wall is the longest of these walls, roughly five feet longer than the short wall.


Short Wall.  Often, the size of the area of a slant load horse trailer that’s off-limits to the horses and finished out is described using the short wall length.  Since these rooms aren’t square, it’s easier for people to visualize the size this way.  The short wall is the shortest of the two mismatched walls of these rooms.


Slant Load.  Bigger horses sometimes have a hard time loading into a trailer with rectangular stalls, since they tend to be narrower than stalls built on a slant.  When you need to give your horse a little more space, a slant load horse trailer with its diagonal stalls may be the answer.


Straight Load.  When a horse trailer is built with rectangular horse stalls that sit side-by-side, they’re referred to as straight load trailers.  Straight load trailers have plenty of uses, especially if you have normal to small sized horses.


Stock Trailer.  Unlike a horse trailer that’s completely closed with windows that can be opened at will, a stock trailer is a no-frills option.  These trailers are partially open to the elements all the time via a large vent that runs the length of the trailer.  They’re useful for hauling different types of livestock over short distances and tend to be very inexpensive.


Tongue Weight.  A certain amount of the weight of your trailer is transferred to the tow vehicle through the ball or gooseneck -- this is known as the tongue weight.  When you’re outfitting your pulling vehicle, it’s important to match the tongue weight of your trailer to the carrying capacity of your ball or gooseneck.


Weight Distribution Hitch.  A standard hitch on a horse trailer can lead to disaster if you’re not very careful and very lucky.  The weight distribution hitch helps to spread out the weight a little more, resulting in an easier pull and safer ride for your horses.


Now that your horse trailer vocabulary has been expanded, you’ll be able to more confidently choose your next horse trailer.  Whether you’re looking for a good used trailer or are ready to build a custom horse trailer, check out the trailers we have for sale on our website.  We’re happy to answer all your questions, making that trailer buying decision an easy one.

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