A living quarters horse trailer is the perfect solution for horsemen who want to spend longer weekends away with their horses. However, some buyers make the mistake of purchasing a living quarters horse trailer built with a bumper pull configuration.
Not only are they missing out on the advantages of a gooseneck horse trailer, they are also putting themselves and their horses in danger every time they hitch up. Here are 5 reasons why you should never buy a bumper pull living quarters horse trailer.
To put it in the simplest terms: Bumper pull horse trailers with living quarters are not safe to tow. The main reason we make this statement is that the vertical tongue weight of these trailers is often extremely heavy and exceeds the hitch capacity on most tow vehicles.
The tongue weight on any bumper pull horse trailer is the amount of force it would take to walk up to a trailer and physically lift the front end by the coupler. As you can imagine, adding several thousand pounds to the front of a trailer will drastically increase this tongue weight value.
That’s exactly what happens in a bumper pull living quarters trailer!
The front of the trailer is loaded with features like a kitchenette, bathroom, and sleeping quarters. This means the living quarters horse trailer has a much heavier front end than a regular bumper pull trailer with a dressing room.
Many people make the mistake of checking their truck’s towing capacity, seeing a large GVWR value, and assuming they are good-to-go. They forget to check the tongue weight capacity of their hitch. Hitches are only able to support so much vertical weight before they experience complete failure.
For example, we found one woman who owned a bumper pull living quarters horse trailer built by another manufacturer. Using the trailer’s weight, length, and axle locations, we were able to calculate that the tongue weight on her trailer, when empty of horses, was around 1,700 lbs.
The hitch on her Ford F-150 truck was only rated to carry 990 lbs. When she added another 2,200 lbs of horses into the mix, she was likely exceeding her hitch’s maximum capacity by almost double! This is a very dangerous situation.
Most hitches, even with weight distribution bars, are only rated to haul around 1,500 lbs of vertical tongue weight, so this trailer is bad news regardless of who tows it.
If putting living quarters on a bumper pull horse trailer is such a bad idea, why are enormous bumper pull RVs so common on the road? Do these camping enthusiasts have some sort of secret that horse people don’t know about? Actually yes…their secret is that they are not hauling horses.
Adding horses to a bumper pull vehicle adds in a great deal of variability. RV designers can easily look at the placement of features in relation to the trailer axles to perfectly balance the load. Their goal is to achieve a 15% tongue weight. This means a 5,000 lb RV would have an ideal tongue weight around 750 lbs that is easily handled by many hitches.
Brad Heath, owner of Double D Trailers, helped explain the difference between RVs and horse trailers. “On a horse trailer that has an empty weight of 5,000 lbs, we can also work to achieve a 15% tongue weight. However, this load distribution is completely thrown off when we add 2,200 lbs of horse to the mix.”
“If the horses are standing in front of the axles,” he continued, “then the tongue weight increases significantly. If they are standing behind the axles, then suddenly, you are at risk for a negative tongue weight that results in a swaying load or unstable driving conditions.”
Despite this fact, many horse trailer manufacturers have continued to build bumper pull living quarters horse trailers to meet the demands of consumers. It’s been a major point of concern for Brad who values horse trailer safety above all else in his business.
You many be wondering, "What’s the big deal if I exceed my hitch rating by a few hundred pounds.” Does matching the tongue weight to a proper hitch really matter that much? The answer is, “YES!”
If you have a trailer that is pushing down too much on the rear of your tow vehicle, you are at risk of a complete hitch failure. Brad explained, “There is a very good reason that vehicles manufacturers post limits on weight, and it’s to ensure safety…plain and simple. If you exceed that limit, it’s unsafe!”
Next, an excessively heavy load pushing on the rear of your tow vehicle also serves to lift the front end of your tow vehicle up slightly off the road. It’s just like a see-saw. Push down on one side and the other side goes up. This slight raising of the truck’s front end is enough to impact the steering on your tow vehicle.
If these trailers are so dangerous to tow, then why do people keep buying them? Unfortunately, many consumers are simple mis-informed…okay, let’s be blunt…they’re lied to. Sellers take advantage of inexperienced buyers and convince them that their truck can handle the load with no problem.
We did a bit of undercover investigating and found several instances of salesmen and women intentionally misleading buyers about the towing requirements for living quarters bumper pull trailers. They tried to avoid answering questions and gave as little information as possible to try to reassure the buyers that their trucks could handle the trailer’s weight.
We also found another lady who was selling her trailer in a popular online forum who simple didn’t know that her trailer was unsafe. She had been towing it herself for years after a dealer looked at her Silverado HD Duramax truck and said, “You got no worries, honey!”
Living quarters horse trailers are certainly wonderful to own. They give you a warm and dry place to sleep after a long weekend showing the horses or traveling cross-country. It’s like a home-away-from-home!
If you are determined to own a living quarters horse trailer, make sure that you buy one with a gooseneck configuration instead of a bumper pull set-up. These trailers are much more stable to haul and will eliminate all of the issues we’ve discussed with the bumper pull living quarters design.
What questions do you have about bumper pull and gooseneck horse trailers with living quarters? Comment below or reach out directly to Brad Heath with your questions!