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Everything You Need To Know Before Buying a Horse Trailer

Written by Rachael Kraft (Avid Equestrian 20+ Years) Last Updated 2/20/2023

buying a horse trailer Buying a horse trailer for the first time can be an intimidating process. With so many different types, brands, makes, and models of horse trailers for sale, narrowing down the options and making a final decision can be stressful.

There are many ordinary horse trailers out there on the market - they’re average horse trailers with average features that do an average job of hauling your horses. You could settle for an average, regular horse trailer. Or you could find a horse trailer that has a unique, custom design, extra safety features, and the best materials and construction. A horse trailer that stands out among all the other average trailers out there.

How do you find an extraordinary trailer that’s the perfect match for you and your horse? We’ve compiled the most common questions we get from first-time buyers to help you find the best horse trailer on the market. In this article, you’ll find expert opinions, helpful tips, and everything you need to know to buy a horse trailer for the first time.

What to Look for When Buying a Horse Trailer

Before making your first horse trailer purchase, it’s important to know the benefits and disadvantages of certain horse trailer features. You’ll need to decide what size trailer you need, and what type of trailer will work best for your trailer and truck combination.

First time horse trailer buyers should also consider things like how much extra storage space you’ll need, what type of living quarters design you want, and whether you’ll be hauling just your horses or also your friends and family’s horses as well.

But, don’t worry! We’ll cover all that and more so you can have all the information you need to decide what trailer is best for you.

How to Know Which Type of Horse Trailer is Best For You

Should I buy a bumper pull horse trailer or a gooseneck horse trailer? Is the forward-facing or the reverse-facing design best? Do I want a straight-load trailer or a slant-load trailer? These are common questions that many first time horse trailer buyers struggle to find the answers to. 

Let’s go over each aspect one by one. 

#1: Horse Trailer Size and Capacity

The first thing you should consider when shopping for your first horse trailer is the size. If you have large breed horses like warmbloods or draft horses, you’re probably going to need a trailer that's taller and bigger than the average trailer. If you have average size horses, but you have 4 horses, you’ll also need a bigger trailer if you want to be able to transport all of them at once.

Your horse trailer size should fit just right - if it’s too big, it’ll give your horse too much space to shift around during travel, and if it’s too small, your horse will be cramped and uncomfortable. Before you search for a horse trailer, measure your horses to determine what size stalls your trailer will need to have.

At Double D Trailers, all SafeTack trailers are designed to safely and comfortably fit a horse that’s anywhere between 15.3 and 16 hands high. If your horse is bigger, we recommend increasing the stall size and height of your trailer. Since all Double D Trailers are custom made, making these small adjustments is super easy - in fact, we can even make two stalls in the same trailer different sizes if you have a large horse and an average size horse. It’s important that ALL your horses are safe and comfortable when you travel.

Apart from the size of your trailer, you’ll also have to decide between the different types of horse trailers. There are three main types of horse trailers - bumper pull trailers, gooseneck horse trailers, and horse trailers with living quarters. Ultimately, you will need to choose which is better: a gooseneck or a bumper pull horse trailer?

#2: Type of Horse Trailer

Bumper Pull Horse Trailers

If you want to be able to tow your trailer with your current truck or SUV, a bumper pull horse trailer is a great option for you. With this type of trailer, you can hitch up quickly and easily - and most trailer owners find them very easy to tow.

Bumper pull horse trailers by Double D Trailers are some of the best when it comes to horse safety. They have all the essential safety features like shock-absorbent Rumber flooring, a SafeBump one-piece roof system, fully padded and covered dividers, and a super-strong Z-Frame that keeps your horse protected.

There are 1 horse, 2 horse, and 3 horse bumper pull trailers. And Double D Trailers offers a uniquely designed 1 horse bumper pull trailer with living quarters. This unique design correctly distributes the weight and makes it the only safe 1 horse bumper pull with living quarters on the market today.

>>> Learn More About the Most Popular Bumper Pull Horse Trailer Model from Double D Trailers: 2 Horse Slant Bumper Pull

A Double D Trailers bumper pull model with a brown horse standing in front of the trailer.

Gooseneck Horse Trailers

If you have larger horses or more than 3 horses, you’ll probably want to check out a Gooseneck horse trailer. These trailers are larger and heavier than bumper pull horse trailers, but have more space for a dressing room with sleep area, tack storage, and more horse stalls. Double D Trailers offers 2 horse, 3 horse, and 4 horse gooseneck trailers.

Keep in mind that if you decide to get a gooseneck horse trailer, you might need to upgrade your truck or towing vehicle as well, because these horse trailers are heavier and require a vehicle with a higher towing capacity.

>>> Learn More About the Most Popular Gooseneck Horse Trailer Model from Double D Trailers: 3 Horse Slant Load Gooseneck

A Double D Trailers gooseneck trailer owner posed with her horses in front of the trailer.

Living Quarters Horse Trailers

When most people dream about buying their first horse trailer, they imagine this type of horse trailer - a living quarters horse trailer. These trailers have a beautiful living space with a kitchen, bed, and bathroom area and are perfect for horse owners who plan to stay in their trailer on overnight trips at equine events or competitions.

And the best part is that you can design it and make it your own - add all the horse trailer upgrades you want to make your space truly comfortable and special.

>>> Learn More About the Most Popular Horse Trailer with Living Quarters Model from Double D Trailers: Trail Blazer Living Quarters

A Double D Trailers living quarters horse trailer hitched to a black tow truck.

COMING SOON: 3D-Printed Horse Trailer Model

If you're looking for a bumper pull horse trailer that has a modern design, is lightweight yet durable, and is manufactured with more eco-friendly practices than conventional horse trailer build methods - look no further than the SafeTack Reverse Carbon 3D-Printed Horse Trailer. This 2 horse bumper pull model will be the first ever 3D-printed horse trailer in the industry. Some of the top features of the SafeTack Reverse Carbon by Double D Trailers include: 

  • Exclusive design features only capable with 3D manufacturing. Features like an aerodynamic shape, adjustable interior dividers, 300% more trailer lighting, and a multi-purpose fender skirt are just a few that make the Carbon trailer model unique. 
  • All the safety features that you love on Double D Trailers. The 3D-printed horse trailer model comes standard in our patented SafeTack Reverse trailer configuration, allowing your horses to haul with better balance and less stress. The swing out SafeTack rear tack storage allows for wide open loading and unloading space, and it is fully removable in the 3D horse trailer model. 
  • Can fit large horses. The Double D Trailers 3D-printed horse trailer comes standard as a Warmblood size horse trailer, designed to fit horses up to 17.2 hands. 

2 Horse Bumper Pull 3D-Printed Horse Trailer Model by Double D Trailers

>>> Learn More About the 3D-Printed 2 Horse Bumper Pull Model from Double D Trailers: SafeTack Reverse Carbon

#3: Vehicle Weight and Towing Capacity

A key component that a lot of people don’t think about when shopping for a horse trailer is their tow vehicle. In all reality, your tow vehicle is equally as important, if not more important than the horse trailer that you choose. The reason is that if your tow vehicle is not adequately equipped to tow the weight of your trailer and your horses, you’re putting both you and your horses at risk for an accident on the road. To ensure that your tow vehicle is capable of safely hauling your horse trailer, you’ll need to check that the tongue weight capacity of your truck is greater than the tongue weight of the horse trailer. 

A Double D Trailers horse trailer parked and hitched to a tow truck.

Another important factor to consider when it comes to your tow vehicle is the hitch. You may have heard the saying that “You’re only as strong as the weakest link”, and this is entirely true when it comes to towing a horse trailer as well. You’ll also need to check that the hitch capacity on your tow vehicle is strong enough to haul your new horse trailer, too. 

Read more: Safely Hauling a Trailer: The Ultimate Trailer Towing Guide

#4: Trailer Safety Features

The best horse trailers are spacious enough for you to completely turn your horse around in the trailer, and have a wide open entryway that welcomes your horse into the trailer. And in terms of must have horse trailer accessories, our biggest suggestion is a trailer with walk-on, walk-off loading.

If you’ve ever tried to load your horse into a trailer with a small, dark entryway, you know how stressful and dangerous it can be for both you and your horse. If something goes wrong, you could be pinned against the trailer wall or worse. That’s why when buying a horse trailer, you should pay special attention to the loading and unloading options they have.

A horse loading onto the back ramp of a Double D horse trailer.

Asking questions like, “are there escape doors on this trailer?” and “does the trailer have a side loading ramp?” will help you find the safest and the best horse trailer for you. A trailer that makes the loading and unloading process easier is a trailer that you and your horses will love.

At Double D Trailers, we offer a walk-on, walk-off loading and unloading system. Your horse will never have to blindly back up off the trailer again. Instead, you’ll be able to load your horse from a side door and walk him out the back doors when he’s ready to unload (or vice versa). This takes all the headaches out of loading and unloading and keeps you and your horse safe. 

#5: Straight Load or Slant Load

Part of choosing a horse trailer that’s a good fit for your horse is knowing how your horse likes to travel. There are some general things that all horses need when they travel - good ventilation, a bright, well-lit interior, and enough space - but other aspects are specific to your horse.

For example, the position your horse likes to travel in. You’ll have to decide between a straight-load trailer and a slant-load horse trailer, so you should know where your horse prefers to face during travel.

Research shows that horses facing opposite the direction of travel arrive at their destination more refreshed and relaxed. But it’s also true that straight load trailers can be beneficial over really long trips, because they let the horse use both its front legs and back legs to balance. Really, it depends on your horse’s trailer experience and preferences.

A parked Double D Trailer with 3 horses hanging their heads out of the window.

There’s also some other important information that could help you out when choosing between a slant-load trailer and a straight-load trailer. Straight load horse trailers make better use of trailer space, allowing you and your horses more room in the trailer. They also have a shorter wheelbase, making them easier to tow and less expensive.

But not all slant load horse trailers are made the same. Make sure to choose a slant load trailer that has tubular head dividers rather than solid coffin-like dividers. The stalls should be a comfortable size for your horse and the horse trailer should have a dual side ramp so you can access any horse at any time.

#6: Tack Storage 

Also, make sure to look at where the rear tack area is located on the trailer. Different types of horse trailers sometimes have a tack area in the corner of the trailer, which makes for a narrow entryway that could create a dangerous loading situation.

A Double D Trailer parked with horses tied to the trailer.

Double D Trailers are built with a unique SafeTack design that eliminates the dangers of loading but still has a tack area in the back of the trailer. The tack area swings out like a door, which gives you and your horse a wide open, safe, and welcoming space when loading and unloading horses.

#7: Trailer Materials 

While we’re on the topic of safety - it’s so important that first time buyers know what to look for when buying a horse trailer. Many horse trailers on the market today don’t have all the necessary safety features that your horse needs to stay protected on the road. Don’t put your horse in danger by buying a cheap, unsafe trailer.

Like any good horse owner, you want to make sure that your horses are comfortable and calm during travel, so they can enjoy the trip as much as you do. That’s why safety should be your top priority when buying a horse trailer.

At Double D Trailers, your horse’s safety is our top priority. Our trailers are built with Z-Frame technology that offers extra protection and is much stronger and safer than aluminum trailers.

Double D Trailers have superior horse safety features.

We believe that the inside of a horse trailer should be just as impressive as the outside - which is why Double D Trailers have features like insulated SafeKick walls, a leak-proof SafeBump roof, 3M chemical bonding to prevent excess road noise, SafeTack technology, shock-absorbent Rumber flooring, and plenty of interior ventilation.

All the different parts of a horse trailer should work together to keep your horse safe on the road. That’s why Double D Trailers are custom designed and built specifically for you and your horse’s needs. When a trailer is designed uniquely for your horse, your horse will travel more calmly and comfortably - and always arrive at your destination safe and sound.

Is Buying a Used Horse Trailer A Good Idea?

Another decision you’ll have to make before your horse trailer purchase is whether you want a new or used horse trailer. New horse trailers can be a substantial investment, and if you’ve never owned a trailer before, you might be leaning towards a used trailer that’s easier on your wallet.

A used horse trailer can be a good option for you if you are looking for a more affordable option. And, you’ll be able to discover what features you like and dislike before buying your own new trailer in the future. With many online trailer marketplaces, there’s lots of options out there.

However, if you do decide to buy a used horse trailer, be aware that trailer construction has evolved and advanced quite a bit in the last few years. A trailer that’s even just 5 years old won’t have all the modern technology and safety features that a new trailer has. Don’t compromise on important safety features just to save a few bucks.

It’s also important to note that if you buy a used horse trailer, you’ll need to do a thorough inspection of the trailer. Sadly, when it comes to buying and selling on the internet, there are a lot of scams to watch out for. Make sure you do a thorough inspection of your trailer, checking the tires, hitch connection, inside of the horse trailer, tack room, and living quarters area. Make sure everything works like it should and looks sturdy and durable.

You’ll even want to get down underneath the trailer to check out the floors. Floors are a special hazard in used horse trailers because they can wear out and become thinner and more fragile, which could lead to your horse’s hoof breaking through the floor during travel.

If you decide to go with a used horse trailer, avoid being scammed by doing a thorough inspection and buying from a dealer (sometimes dealers can also sell you a used trailer with a warranty, which you won’t find on online marketplaces).   

Why You Should Buy a Horse Trailer Online: The Benefits of A Custom Made Horse Trailer

Quite honestly, it can be difficult and frustrating to search for a used horse trailer that meets all your expectations. It might be a better option to invest in a nice new trailer that has everything you want and need and that will last you a good 15-25 years.

That’s why so many people decide to invest in a custom made, uniquely designed horse trailer. Not only will a custom designed trailer offer more protection and safety for your horse, it also lets you choose and pay for only the features you need. Really, creating your own unique horse trailer is a great idea in more ways than one…

Inside the Double D Trailers factory showing a horse trailer being built.

Top Quality and Expert Design

When it comes to getting the best value for your money, a custom built horse trailer is the best way to go. Here at Double D Trailers, every step of the construction process is done with you and your horse’s safety in mind. From the moment your trailer design hits the drawing board, Brad Heath, owner of Double D Trailers, makes sure that your trailer is designed to be safe, durable, and always the highest quality.

When your trailer is designed with such a high level of expertise and caution, you’ll save yourself from headaches, repairs, and problems down the road. Trailers that are thrown together in an assembly line in a factory can have weight distribution issues, low-quality materials, and many other problems that put you and your horse in danger. But, with a Double D Trailer, you can rest easy knowing your trailer is hand-crafted and made from the safest and strongest materials.

YOU Are a Part of the Design Process

During the design process, you get to work with Brad Heath as he creates the perfect trailer for you. You’ll never have to wonder where your trailer is in the design process or when it will be delivered, because you’ll know what's happening every step of the way.

Throughout the custom design process, you’ll watch online videos of Brad explaining unique features, be able to look at the detailed horse trailer parts diagram and floor plans for your particular trailer, and be able to ask Brad any and all questions you might have.

You’ll even get dozens of unique pictures of your trailer being constructed! When you are a part of the design process, you get to create your trailer just the way you want it. Brad will be there every step of the way with suggestions to help you create the best horse trailer.

One Double D Trailers customer, Ellen from California, commented about how smoothly the design process went for her - “Brad suggested things that I hadn’t realized were possible! The result - a trailer that suits my unique needs perfectly.”

100% Money Back Guarantee

One thing you most definitely won’t get if you buy a used horse trailer is a 100% money back guarantee. But at Double D Trailers, that’s just what we offer - if you aren’t satisfied with your new custom trailer, you get every penny of your money back.

Company owner Brad Heath explained, “We implemented our 100% money back guarantee years ago, because we feel 100% confident in our process of customer satisfaction, and know that the trailers we make are the best horse trailers on the market. And so far, we've NEVER had a customer ‘cash in’ and ask for their money back.”

Get ALL the Features You Want

Do you have young horses and want to keep an eye on them in the trailer? You can add an on board horse camera system to your custom designed trailer. Maybe you live in Texas and will have to travel on hot summer days. You can add horse trailer stall fans to keep your horse trailer cooler, and add a horse trailer AC unit to your living quarters area. Or maybe you plan on camping alongside your trailer and want some shade for your campsite. With a custom horse trailer, you can add a two-step roll out horse trailer awning that’s perfect for resting after a long day of trail rides.

With a custom-built horse trailer, you can get all the features you want - and none of the ones you don’t want. Whether it’s something as simple as adding a wall grid organizer or a hook for a hay bale holder on your tack area, or something more extravagant like a portable corral system or a special feature for your living quarters area, anything is possible with a custom designed horse trailer.

Brad says, “the sky’s the limit when custom building a horse trailer.” And while the possibilities are endless, budgets are not. That’s why Brad works with you to find a balance between must-have horse trailer accessories and fun extras. You’ll be able to build the perfect trailer that’s just right for you and your equine needs.

How To Buy A Horse Trailer - Chelsea’s Story

how to buy a horse trailer

Chelsea started riding when she was 7 years old. She grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania and was a part of 4-H clubs as a teenager, and even rode with the Penn State Equestrian team. After she bought her first horse and started competing in beginner novice level of eventing, she decided it was time to start looking for a trailer so she could travel with her horse Sherwin to competitions.

In Chelsea’s own words, “Buying a trailer is a big deal!” But Chelsea did her research and started looking for a used horse trailer that would fit within her budget. She knew what type of trailer she wanted and she knew how much her truck could pull, but finding a used trailer in good condition was tough.

Finally, she found a used trailer that was a good match. It was a lovely two horse bumper pull trailer. She and her dad did all the necessary repairs, and her trailer was all ready. Chelsea has fond memories of her first trailer, she said, “it was a good first purchase for me.  The trailer was well built and sturdy, and I really liked the tack room.”

Many years later, Chelsea was ready for a newer and bigger trailer - she wanted to travel longer distances to go to different events on the east coast, and needed more space for gear and supplies. Chelsea knew exactly what she needed in a horse trailer, so this time it was much easier to find just what she wanted.

She decided to go with a 2 horse gooseneck trailer. She says that her trailer is a great match for her, since she can travel to long all-day events and she “can pull the trailer with two horses, hay, and supplies for a week down and back to South Carolina without a problem.”

Chelsea’s advice for first time horse trailer buyers? “The first horse trailer purchase is a bit daunting.  My advice is to not rush, have a knowledgeable friend, and do your homework.” She also suggested buying US Rider coverage. This is a type of insurance that provides roadside assistance for your car, truck, and trailer, as well as veterinary recommendations and even stabling suggestions if you get into an accident on the road.

Buying your first horse trailer can be a daunting task, but it should also be an exciting and enjoyable one. After all, it’s a big milestone in your equine career and it opens up a whole world of travel possibilities for you and your horses. Take your time when deciding which horse trailer is best for you, and make sure to choose one you really love, and one that will keep you and your horse safe on the road.

If you have any questions about buying a horse trailer, we’d love to help you out in any way we can. Reach out to Brad today to talk about new trailer options for you and your horses. 

Frequently Asked Questions  

What are the different types of horse trailers?

There are four main types of horse trailers - bumper pull trailers, gooseneck horse trailers, horse trailers with living quarters, and stock trailers (horse trailers without individual stalls for the horses). Bumper pull trailers are lighter and can usually be pulled with a normal truck or SUV. Gooseneck trailers are larger and heavier and are great for bigger horses - they have a different type of hitch connection so they require a stronger towing vehicle.

How long is a horse trailer?

Trailer length varies depending on the type of horse trailer and its make and model. Slant load trailers are usually shorter than traditional straight-load trailers. Bumper pull trailers are the shortest type of trailer, they usually are between 15 to 20 feet long. Gooseneck trailers, trailers with living quarters, and 4 horse trailers are bigger and longer, usually between 20 to 40 feet long.

Do horse trailers have air conditioning?

Air conditioning units for horse trailers can be installed in the living quarters area or the dressing room area of your horse trailer. This is a great way to make your horse trailer cooler and more comfortable and it’s a common addition in many custom made horse trailers. If you want to keep the horse area of your horse trailer cooler as well, you can add horse trailer stall fans for extra ventilation. This is an excellent and affordable option, and is highly recommended if you plan to trailer a lot on hot summer days.

What is the best time of year to buy a horse trailer?

The best time of year to buy a horse trailer depends on when you plan to start using your horse trailer. If you want to start using your trailer during the eventing season at the beginning of March, you should start designing your custom horse trailer the summer before - building a custom horse trailer usually takes several months.  So, it’s a good idea to give yourself time to go through the design process, building stages, and delivery phase. That way, your trailer will be delivered right to your door just in time for the riding season.

How much is a horse trailer? What is the average price of a new horse trailer?

Horse trailers can cost anywhere from $5,000 to over $100,000 depending on the type of horse trailer, if you buy a new or a used horse trailer, and what features you want to add to your horse trailer. Bumper pull trailers usually cost between $20k and $30k, while gooseneck horse trailers fall within the $30k-$50k range. Gooseneck horse trailers with living quarters are the most costly type of horse trailer, while smaller two horse bumper pull trailers are a more affordable option.

What are some must have horse trailer accessories?

A must have trailer accessory for any horse owner is the SafeTack design that allows for easy and safe loading and unloading. But, your must have horse trailer accessories will depend on your equine needs. If you plan to travel on hot summer days in Texas, horse trailer stall fans might be essential. But if you plan to go on trailer rides and camp by your trailer, you might want a horse trailer awning. Whatever your horse trailer needs are, you can add all the features you want with a custom made Double D Trailer.

Where can I buy a horse trailer?

You can buy a horse trailer at a horse trailer dealership near you, directly from a horse trailer manufacturing company or online. If you want to find a great used horse trailer, a horse trailer dealership is your best option to avoid scams online. If you want a custom made horse trailer, it’s best to contact a trustworthy and expert trailer manufacturer like Double D Trailers to get the best deal. Find out what it’s like to buy a horse trailer online.

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