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All About Trailer Axles

When building custom horse trailers, there are lots of small decisions to make, from the color of the exterior to the size of each individual stall.  These decisions are important, but they can be easily modified if a customer changes their minds in mid-construction.  Other factors, like the axles on that same trailer, are a more fundamental part of the picture, so it’s important to get them right the first time.


Figuring Out Axles

Before choosing the axles for your custom trailer, there are a couple of important terms to know.  The first is Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and the second is Gross Axle Weight (GAW). 

The GVW is the weight of the trailer, including anticipated cargo.  So, if your future two horse trailer weighs about 6,000 pounds, your two horses each weigh 1,000 pounds and you intend to carry 1,000 pounds of hay and supplies when you travel, your GVW would be 9,000 pounds.  

The other very important number is the GAW, which is a number that indicates how much of the weight of your load will be distributed to the trailer axles.  For most trailers, that’s going to be 75 to 80 percent of the total weight.  If you multiply the GVW by 75 percent, you get 6,750 pounds, meaning each of your two trailer axles should be rated at just over 3,375 pounds.


Axle Weight Ratings Mean a Lot

When customers are looking at custom horse trailers, they often ask about beefing up their axles.  Although it would seem that bigger would be better, the fact is that your trailer needs to be able to give a little to provide the smoothest ride.  When axles are bigger, they’re also stiffer, which has serious consequences for your equine passengers and how smoothly your trailer pulls.

Bigger axles mean a bouncy, stiff ride that can injure your horse and make it hard to keep your trailer on a bumpy road.  If your horse trailer is too light because you habitually haul it unloaded or only partially loaded, you’ll need to carry more weight to improve the ride or have the axles changed to better reflect the reality of your hauls.

On the other hand, if you go with axles that are way too light to save money or because you underestimate how much you’ll be hauling, road heat will cause the overloaded axles to chronically overheat.  Overly light axles may need frequent repairs and you’ll probably go through a lot of tires if you travel very much with your horses. 

Horse trailer sales are about more than just packaging a shiny, new piece of equipment with lots of expensive features.  For us, it’s about building relationships with horse owners and helping them find the trailer that’s right for them, no matter how big or small.  When you’re ready for your custom horse trailer, take a look at our guide to buying custom horse trailers, then call us at 1-888-244-2029 to get a quote on the trailer that’s right for you and your horse.

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