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The Right and Wrong Ways to Use a Horse Trailer Cover

Last updated October 14, 2023 by Brad Heath

horse trailer coverBuying your dream horse trailer is certainly an investment, so it only make sense to care for your trailer like you would an expensive car.  Just imagine a car that is protected from sunlight, rain, and the elements with 10 years of indoor storage.  Now compare that image in your mind to the same vehicle left parked behind the garage.  Ugh!!

Yup, that’s right… the best thing you can do for your horse trailer to keep it looking its best is to protect it from the elements.  While indoor storage is ideal, it’s not possible for every owner.  That’s why we’re sharing our tops tips for how to use horse trailer covers to keep your trailer looking like new!


The Worst Way to Care for Your Trailer

First, let’s talk about the obvious.  If you decide to leave your trailer outdoors without protection, you doing things the wrong way.

That’s because a trailer’s greatest enemy is the sun.  Sunlight causes your paint to deteriorate and dull over time. Colors become faded and your trailer will start to look worn. 

Constant exposure to moisture will cause mildew to grow on your awning and your roof.

The seam around the top of your horse trailer roof is also vulnerable to the sun.  Most roof seams are made of a petroleum based sealer.  Constant exposure to sunlight will cause these seals to become dry and brittle – leading to a leaky roof!  If water is allowed to leak into your living quarters it can do serious damage to any furniture, electrical components, or flooring.

Your windows will start to go bad.  All trailer windows are sealed with rubber gaskets which break down in sunlight, extreme temperatures, and air exposure.  Even the lights on your trailer lose their firm fitting when the silicon seals holding them in place are left out in the elements.

Then, things like vinyl graphics, door hold backs, rubber stoppers, and door gaskets also become dry and brittle if left out in the sun without protection.

If you own a steel trailer, then you are putting your trailer at greater risk of rust if left out in the elements.  Any damage to the paint, or moisture left in grooves is going to cause your trailer’s appearance to fade more quickly.

(Double D Trailers are made with a Z-frame chassis with a double layer of skin made from galvalite and aluminum, so rust is not a concern for our trailers.)

Regardless of what type of trailer you have, your horse trailer tires will age out much more quickly if left in the sunlight.  Often, horse trailer tires “age out” rather than “wear out.”  In other words, the tread may look perfectly fine, but the rubber of the tire has become brittle and at risk for a serious blow out while driving on the road.  That’s why we always recommend you have your tires checked yearly regardless of their appearance.


Tarps Aren’t Good Enough, Here’s Why…

The second huge mistake you can make when caring for your horse trailer is to just use a basic tarp.  Think of the blue or green tarp that you might use for camping or to cover a wood pile.

These plastic tarps don’t “breathe” so mold and mildew are more likely to occur.  Plus, if they don’t fit your trailer snuggly, they are more likely to blow in the wind and possibly cause damage to your paint.


Are Custom Covers Worth the Cost?

Many different types of horse trailer and RV covers can be found for purchase online.  A cover that is made to fit multiple types of trailers is called a “universal fit” cover.  These tend to last about 3 or 4 years before they begin to dry rot and rip.  Universal fit covers come in multiple sizes so be sure to find one that fits your trailer size best.

A custom cover from a company like Calmark or Adco tends to hold up much better.  They are also more expensive. The fabric is higher quality and you have the opportunity to get a cover that fits your trailer’s exact shape. 

This might not seem like a big deal until you think about accessing the dressing room or living quarters door when the trailer is covered up.  A custom cover would let you put a vertical zipper over the door space so you can grab items with ease.

In general, Sunbrella covers (like those made by Calmark) are a really great option as they are very durable and will last many years.  The fabric is designed to be outdoors continuously. The universal fit for these tends to last about 3-4 years.  Or, you can spend more and buy a custom fit for double or triple the cost.


How to Put the Trailer Cover On

horse trailer coverInstalling and removing a horse trailer cover can be really time consuming.  It’s also difficult to do with just one person. That’s why we were delighted to hear of one Double D Trailers customer named Shannon who found a creative solution.

She purchased sand bags from Amazon and then filled them with corn hole bags.  This gave her just enough weight to toss the corner of the cover up and over the trailer.  She was able to install her trailer cover without the use of a ladder or another person’s help. (see photo on right)

When installing your cover, make sure the cover and the trailer are both dry so you don’t trap moisture against your paint.  It’s normal to have dirt accumulate under the cover as the fabric is designed to “breathe.”  Secure your cover tightly so it doesn’t flap in the wind.

Regardless of how you do it, get your trailer covered!

Brad Heath, owner of Double D Trailers, summed up his thoughts on covers like this: “People who use indoor storage will have trailers that look brand new years later.  The more you can keep your trailer covered up, the better you can protect your big investment!”

If you have any questions about how to care for your horse trailer or how to choose the best cover, feel free to reach out to Brad with questions.

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