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Horse Trailer Brakes: What You Need to Know

When it comes to hauling your horses, nothing is as important as safety.  Whether you’re going for a ride nearby with friends or traveling to a show across the country, you want to know that you’ve got the right brakes installed on your trailer and that they’re fully functional.  Although some light-duty trailers don’t require brakes, horse trailers are too heavy when loaded to pull smoothly without efficient braking systems.

Braking Systems for Horse Trailers

In 31 states, you’re required by law to keep well-working brakes on any horse trailer with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of more than 3,000 pounds.  Unless your horses are small, or you have only one horse who likes to go on trips, you’ll easily exceed this weight limit.  Even if your trailer is light and only hauls miniature ponies, it’s a good idea to stick to trailers with brakes to provide a smoother ride for your equine passengers. 

Small trailers with gross vehicle weights of under 4,000 pounds, like the tiny two horse trailer pulling your ponies, may only need brakes on one axle, but bigger trailers, like the gooseneck horse trailer you take on long trips, require brakes on both axles.  Most trailers are equipped with electric brakes, which allow the driver to control the trailer’s brake system manually from inside the cab of the truck, but a few are still fitted with low-tech hydraulic brakes that engage based on resistance from the towing vehicle.

Many horse trailers, especially very large horse trailers with living quarters, use a secondary brake as a fail-safe in case the trailer somehow uncouples from the vehicle hauling it.  These safety brakes, known as breakaway brakes, are invaluable on long hauls and give the driver a great deal of peace of mind.  Breakaway brakes are powered by a 12 volt battery that’s independent of the rest of the braking system, this safety system is designed to engage the brakes on your trailer for a full 15 minutes should it become unhitched in transit. 

Why Horse Trailer Brakes Matter

Pulling a trailer is easy -- you just tug and it’ll follow you wherever you go, but stopping isn’t always such a graceful maneuver, especially if your trailer is weighed down with multiple horses, tack, hay and feed.  The additional brakes on the axles of your trailer will help you bring it to a gentle stop instead of risking slamming around your horses and their gear.  The breakaway brake is even more valuable because it also protects other drivers should your horse trailer try to find its own ride home. 

Sudden, jarring braking is hard on your horses, but it’s also hard on your equipment.  Very tall trailers risk twisting or toppling with hard braking if they’re depending solely on the truck’s brakes to stop them  -- that’s a disaster everyone around you would rather avoid.  Properly designed brakes are important to ensure that your trailer stops when it needs to, without any extra drama.  Although you rarely think about them, brakes are one of the most valuable features on your horse trailer.

Safety is number one at Double D Trailers.  You can rest assured that when you buy your next bumper pull or gooseneck trailer from us it will come fully equipped with responsive brakes and adequate safety systems to protect your precious cargo.  Call us at 888-244-2029 or email us at sales@doubledtrailers.com to find out more about the braking systems on your new trailer.


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