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Choosing Proper Materials for Your Horse Trailer

Aluminum trailers have the benefit of being light weight, however there are several important disadvantages that can affect the safety and comfort of your horses...

  • Aluminum trailers tend to be brittle in nature.
  • Aluminum has a high heat transfer rate.
  • Aluminum can easily bend, which is neither safe nor comfortable for your horses. 

The materials we recommend below provide strength where it is crucial in case of an impact while traveling, yet utilize weight saving metals to make the trailer as light as possible. In addition, we equip your Double D trailer with features that make traveling for your horses as comfortable as possible.

This page contains information on:

Z-Frame Technology

The Safety of Z-Frame® Technology 

Your horse’s life depends on the durability of the chassis and every component of your new trailer is secured in some fashion to the frame. In an accident, it’s important to have your horses surrounded in a durable “safety cage” for maximum protection. Due to the brittle nature of aluminum, it will tear or splinter and doesn’t provide the safety needed for long term durability.

For your new horse trailer chassis, you may choose between aluminum or Z-Frame ® for the cross members underneath the floor and the tubing structure uprights.  We recommend our patented Z-Frame ® for durability, weight savings, and safety for your horse.  It provides a number of benefits...

  • Z-Frame offers superior strength yet weighs about the same as an aluminum frame trailer.  The heat treatment process strengthens it to be stronger than regular steel allowing use of smaller gauge metals and achieving the same strength, thus saving weight. 
  • Z-Frame ® doesn't corrode and is super strong for a base structure. Cost is slightly less than aluminum, but produces much better results in strength testing.  You may appreciate the fact that it doesn't require chemicals and painting which means you are helping to produce an environmentally “green” trailer.
  • Z-Frame ® technology utilizes zinc, which is a natural occurring element in the environment, as is aluminum. Zinc is used in everyday applications of life. For example, most highway sign posts, bridge rails, metal building structures, and other outdoor products use zinc where strength is necessary and to avoid corrosion.
  • Z-Frame ® is a similar concept as a stop sign post, but the technology is more advanced. Z-Frame® is processed utilizing 99.99% pure zinc alloy with significantly less harmful lead content than generally encountered with pre-galvanized or hot-dipped products. Plus, Z-Frame® last up to 3 times longer in salt spray testing when compared to something like a stop sign post or boat trailer.
  • Compared to Regular steel, Z-Frame ®Tensile strength ratings are higher. This allows your new Double D Trailer to be built with lighter weight materials, yet resulting in comparable strength you would have in a conventional steel frame trailer.

Read more about the advantages of Z-Frame Technology here.

Use Wood or Rumber for your Trailer Floor 

You may have heard that “wood floors rot” and “aluminum last forever”. That statement is partially true, and entirely not true. Remember, your trailer floor is what your horses are standing on for hours at a time, so it’s important to use a material that’s comfortable for them and provides long term durability, and easy for you to clean and maintain. Your choices are an aluminum floor, 2”x8” pressure treated pine (deck board), or Rumber composite.  We recommend using either pine flooring or Rumber composite. Rumber is a recycled tire product that carries a lifetime warranty.

Wood or Rumber Flooring Reduces Heat Transfer Up To 75%

Aluminum is a wonderful conductor of heat. If you were choosing a material for cookware in your kitchen, we agree aluminum is a great choice. However, using this metal for your horses to stand on for hours at a time while driving down a hot asphalt road is not a good idea. The heat exchange from the black asphalt highway through an aluminum floor is significant.  

Consider a simple test performed on a hot summer day. Use a trailer with an aluminum floor, drive it down the road for an hour and then test the temperature of the horse area with a digital temperature reader – particularly the floor temperature. Then use another trailer that has a 2x8” pressure treated pine floor or material other than aluminum, drive down the road for the same amount of time and take the same temperature reading.  The results will be eye opening to say the least. 

The aluminum will literally “pull” the heat from the road and transfer it to your horse’s feet. Remember, ALUMINUM IS A SIGNIFICANT CONDUCTOR OF HEAT. It’s used to make solar panels, so it doesn’t really make sense to use aluminum in the floor to build your new horse trailer.   

It’s better to use a material that is a poor conductor of heat such as wood or Rumber.  The heat transfer rate is reduced by up to 75% by using wood or Rumber. 

Wood and Rumber Perform Well Against Horse Urine 

Horse urine and aluminum do not mix well with time. Horse urine is extremely acidic and when you pour acid on aluminum, it will oxidize and cause corrosion to the point your horses can fall through. The acid from the horse’s urine will cause an aluminum floor to rust if not well cleaned after each use.

Just look at the metal floor on this trailer image sent to us.  When the owners pulled back the mats, they found an aluminum floor with white oxidation “rust” and many holes.  This floor is severely weakened and at risk of complete failure with a horse standing on top. 

Using a material such as wood or Rumber, which isn’t affected by horse urine, is a much better choice for your new trailer floor. In regards to a wood or Rumber floor, urine acid does not present a problem and will not cause your floor to oxidize or corrode.  Wood floors require a stall mat often accompanied by shavings in order to soak up horse waste during travel and prevent slippage. It is necessary to remove mats periodically and clean the mats and wood floor.   

With a Rumber floor, no mat is required and maintenance is minimal compared to aluminum or wood.  By not having to remove heavy stall mats periodically for cleaning, Rumber is the best flooring all around. Rumber would be our top recommendation to you for ease of cleaning, Wood our second recommendation for long term performance, and aluminum we recommend against. 

Wood and Rumber Reduce Noise and Vibration For Your Horses 

It’s important to minimize the noise and vibration as much as possible to reduce stress on your horses while trailering.  Having an aluminum floor actually increases the noise, and vibrations are amplified thru the aluminum. Aluminum is a poor material to use for minimizing noise and vibration.   

Wood or Rumber are both better insulators against noise and vibration and help your horses by making their ride less stressful.   

Consider traveling down the road with your automobile windows up, or in the down position. Most folks are more comfortable with the windows up due to the insulation your car window provides from the passing cars and road noise.  Less noise and vibration is definitely less stress on your horses.

Use Zinc for your Interior Skin Rather than Aluminum


While aluminum works well for the exterior of your trailer, you need something more durable on the interior.  Our recommendation for overall durability would be Galvalite. 

Why we suggest Galvalite...

  • To the naked eye, both will look the same, weight will be very close, but strength and durability is where the difference is. The 16 gauge Galvalite product is 5 times stronger than .040 aluminum. 
  • The real advantage is in the strength. Strength means fewer problems for you down the road with your trailer, less warpage on the side wall sheets and more importantly greater protection in case of an accident.  
  • It’s important NOT to use screws or rivets on the side of your new trailer.  This is necessary because changes in temperature during the day will cause your exterior skin to expand and contract.  A screw or rivet doesn’t allow expansion, and causes sheet warpage and your side walls to be wavy.  The latest 3M bonding technology doesn't require any screws or fasteners, allowing the exterior skin to "breathe" freely from the Z-frame.     

An everyday place you see GalvaLite is on the roof of luxury homes.  Many beach homes situated on the ocean where salt and corrosion are a factor are built with a metal roof. If you are familiar with a home with a metal roof, then you are familiar with the GalvaLite used on the interior of your new Double D Trailer.  It’s the same material, 100% identical…the only difference is your new trailer will have smooth sheets instead of sheets with groves and ribs like on a roof.    

Durable Galvalite interior skin is far superior to conventional aluminum sheets and will withstand the abuse better long term. 

Safety and Comfort Features For Your Horse

SafeBump® Roof System

If you are in the unfortunate event of having a horse spook inside of your new trailer, you will be happy your new Double D has a “SafeBump®” Roof.  Your new SafeBump® is composed of a fibercomposite material which is flexible yet durable. 

SafeBump® will be able to withstand the impact of your horse rearing up against it.  

Since the fibercomposite material is flexible, your SafeBump® roof will actually absorb the impact if a horse rears up, which makes it easier on your horses head and reduces the risk of injury. 

No more "baking" your horse from the hot sun:

A variety of materials can be used for insulating against temperature fluctuation.  Air, wood, styrofoam, fiberglass and even dirt all serve as insulators.  Fiberglass insulation seems to offer the greatest "R" value which is why your SafeBump® Fibercomposite roof (constructed of fiberglass) is self insulating.

If you have ever heard of a horse poking his head thru a thin aluminum roof sheet and getting injured, you will appreciate a fibercomposite Safebump roof.  Not to mention the potential repair problems you may face if you get in a thunderstorm and have hail pound dents in the roof. 

By using a white colored sheet on top, its easy to realize that white reflects more heat than any other color so it's important to keep a true reflective color over your horses to reduce heat transfer.   

Many trailers have a thin aluminum sheet which has a natural shiny color.  A simple fact about aluminum is that it is a wonderful conductor of heat, so a shiny finish aluminum roof truly acts like a solar panel on top of the trailer.  
At Double D Trailers, we stopped using shiny aluminum panels and changed everything to white to produce the best results against heat in the summer and the best results for keeping heat inside in the winter. Plus, you want to avoid “baking” your horses while they are in the trailer.  

Less maintenance for you on your roof:  

A unique technology of SafeBump® is the elimination of bolts, rivets, screws and fasteners and sealant or caulking.  Since the roof is constructed in a one piece mold, there aren't any seams to worry about leaking ever.

Here is a TRUE STORY by a sales person:

At the Horse World Expo in Timonium Maryland I got up on top of a Double D Trailer with a potential customer (I was jumping up and down like a maniac to demonstrate the strength) and I happened to notice in my jumping the trailer parked beside our booth.  First, it had the shiny roof material so my customer and I both knew it was hot on the horse, second it wasn’t insulated so it was noisy and that further increased the heat, third it had over 250 screws. 

My customer immediately picked up on the number of screws. Each screw had some caulking around it and my customer notice the Double D Trailer didn’t have any screws or fasteners.  She immediately commented “I hope they got all of the screws caulked”.  My point is, that’s 250 opportunities on one trailer to have a leak so the chances are 250 times greater you will have a leak on that trailer roof. Your new Double D Trailer will not have any fasteners on your roof and the chances of leaking are tremendously less.  Plus we warranty the roof against leaks, that’s how confident we are in your new roof.

SafeKick® Wall System

SafeKick® Wall System Have you ever had a horse paw or kick?  SafeKick® was developed to reduce the risk of injury to your horses through our durable, maintenance free interior wall liner.  

You may be familiar with what is called a “Rubber Wall Liner”, which is what we recommend against. Typically, the rubber is less than ¼” thick and it requires a thick, hard backing plate to secure the rubber lining.  When a horse paws, over time the rubber can come off, leaving exposed sharp screw or rivet heads which may cut and injure your horse.   

When your horse kicks a trailer with a rubber wall liner, he is kicking a very hard wall which could result in an injury to your horse’s legs.

Your new SafeKick® Wall system solves those problems. It features a durable 95% plastic, 5% rubber interior material called Polylite. When your horse kicks, the wall system is designed to flex, absorbing the impact from your horse’s kick and greatly reducing the risk of injury.  This is much easier on your horses legs, and easier on your trailer.

SafeTack® Design in Slant Loads

Have you ever tried to load your horse in a slant load that has a rear tack? Most slant load horse trailers have two doors in the rear. The door to your right would be for loading your horse, and the door to your left would be for your tack and gear. While slant loads do utilize the space of your trailer very well, conventional rear tack designs can create safety hazards both for you and your horse. SafeTack Design solves safety hazards for you and your horse

  • Horses like a wider door for loading. Your horse may be hesitant to load in a narrow door. With SafeTack®, both rear doors will open easily with one hand providing the entire back of your trailer to be open for safe loading and unloading.
  • More room to maneuver for safer handling. With conventional rear saddle designs, it's dangerous for you to lead your horse into the last stall. Your new SafeTack® allows you to easily lead your horses into each stall safely, and for you to walk back out of the rear. Imagine trying to load your horse in the last stall with a rear saddle compartment in the way. There isn't anywhere for you to go and you could get injured by your horse. SafeTack® solves this safety hazard for you.
  • How effective are collapsible rear tacks? Many manufacturers offer a collapsible rear tack to solve the danger potentials created by rear saddle compartments. However, when your rear tack is loaded with saddles, bridles, stall forks, brushes, shavings and other items, it can become a chore to completely remove your gear before collapsing the walls. That is before considering you having a nervous horse on a lead rope in one hand. With SafeTack®, since it's fully enclosed and lockable, you never have to remove anything when you are ready to load or unload your horses.
  • SafeTack® has an extra divider for safety. Most 3 Horse Slant load trailers will only have two dividers and typically a butt bar or strap across the rear for your last horse. Normally, when you open your back doors with your horses loaded, the first thing your horse wants to do is back out. Butt bars can be dangerous since you are at your horses feet when trying to unlatch, and butt straps can cut a horse. Your SafeTack® design has an extra divider for your last horse as you do for all of your other horses. This means, when you open up both back doors, you are safe from your horse and your horse is secure until you are ready to unload.
  • SafeTack® makes it easy to get to your tack. Since your SafeTack® is away from the rear of your trailer, it makes it easy to access all of your gear. There is a latch on the back to hold your tack in the open position during use. All Saddle Boss saddle racks are adjustable in height so you may customize each saddle to be within your reach. There are bridle hangers and a light inside. Your SafeTack® is lockable with the same key that fits your drop down windows, rear and side doors.

Buying an Environmentally “Green” Trailer is Important  

In efforts to "go green" with your new trailer, virtually all painting and usage of harmful chemicals have been eliminated. This saves on paint, sealants, helps the environment, and greatly adds to the longevity of your new trailer as paint deteriorates.  

All parts are either zinc coated or aluminum and then bolted together or bonded with a chemical bonding process. This method virtually eliminates points for deterioration on the sides, frame and roof of your new trailer.   

SafeKick® wall system uses Polylite which is a recyclable product along with Rumber, which is an available floor material.

Functional, Safe, Light Weight Interior Dividers  

The interior dividers of your new trailer will be made of Z-Frame. Z-Frame is much stronger than traditional aluminum dividers, and it is also lightweight. The Z-Frame divider construction allows for a one hand operation of opening and closing dividers, and it doesn’t require painting which helps in efforts to produce a “green” trailer.  

By using a barred tubing head divider on slant and straight loads, it allows for more light, more air flow, and makes it less claustrophobic for your horses.   

Solid sheeted head dividers would restrict light, air flow and cause your horses more stress and fatigue during hauling.

To learn more contact Brad Heath here

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7719 Market St., Wilmington, North Carolina, USA, 28404

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