Towing safety is one of the main topics that we like to discuss because we want every horse owner to have enjoyable and safe travels with their horse trailer. For many bumper pull horse trailer owners, a weight distribution system may be necessary to make sure that your tow vehicle is able to properly handle your horse trailer’s load while driving.
A weight distribution system is a special kind of hitch that helps ensure a smooth and level ride for your horses. It allows you to haul the maximum capacity of your tow vehicle’s hitch and also improves things like steering, traction, braking, and trailer sway on your rig.
In short, a weight distribution hitch can dramatically improve towing safety for certain horse trailer and tow vehicle combinations.
To save fuel, more and more horse owners are switching to smaller vehicles to do their towing. Although it’s environmentally friendly, these smaller trucks and SUVs aren’t always designed with pulling horse trailers in mind. They often have suspensions that simply aren’t rated for the kind of weight that your horse trailer creates, causing the point where trailer and truck meet to slouch or dive.
There are many factors that go into determining if your tow vehicle is properly equipped to tow your horse trailer. First, you should know your horse trailer’s tongue weight and compare that to the tongue weight capacity of your tow vehicle’s hitch.
Brad Heath, owner of Double D Trailers, explained, “The main reason that many people need a weight distribution system is that their hitch may be rated for 750 lbs without weight distribution and 1100 lbs with weight distribution.”
He continued, “Most bumper pull horse trailers have a tongue weight of 700 lbs or higher empty so weight distribution systems are almost always required.”
Without a weight distribution system, an excessively heavy trailer tongue weight is going to force the back end of your tow vehicle low towards the ground creating a “dive point.” The front end of your tow vehicle will then be raised slightly higher off the road.
Most of the weight of your tow vehicle and your horse trailer will be carried on the rear axle of your tow vehicle. This results in problems with your steering, traction control, and braking power. Plus, this situation can limit your visibility due to the upward angle of your truck and increase trailer sway.
A truck hauling a poorly distributed load is an accident waiting to happen -- in fact, this is one of the main reasons that bumper pull horse trailers get such a bad rap for safety. By its very nature, the bulk of the weight of a horse trailer, namely live horses, is a difficult load to haul. Your horses shift around as you drive with most of their weight is high up off the floor of the trailer. In contrast, a traditional cargo load has most of the weight lower to the ground.
Poorly distributed trailer weight like this makes it harder to stop suddenly when you must. Too much dive between the truck and trailer can create an unsafe situation -- braking can be nearly impossible because the front wheels come up off the ground slightly due to the force on the back of the vehicle.
To fix this issue, a weight distribution system is comprised of a large trailer hitch that attaches to your tow vehicle, a weight distribution shank with a ball mount, and spring bars that sweep back under the tongue of your horse trailer.
These components work together to provide additional hitch points between your truck and trailer. The entire trailer load is transferred more evenly between ALL of the axles on your truck and trailer combination resulting in a level distribution of weight.
Since your bumper pull horse trailer’s weight is no longer concentrated on the rear axle of your tow vehicle, the weight distribution system help improve steering and braking while driving. It also creates a more comfortable and level ride for your horses.
The specific brand and type of weight distribution system that is best for your truck and trailer combination is going to depend on things like your trailer’s gross weight and tongue weight. You can contact Brad Heath at Double D Trailers for any questions about your specific trailer.
Weight distribution systems can be purchased either with or without “sway control.” Trailer sway is a phenomena caused by cross winds or a shifting load in your trailer. While driving, the trailer may move sideways with the hitch as a pivot point compromising the handling of your tow vehicle. Often, weight distribution systems include sway bars to minimize or prevent this from happening.
Let an expert help you decide what type of weight distribution system to buy. You should also let an expert do the installation. Since we have customers nationwide, we typically recommend that you go to an RV/Camper Center or truck accessory store with your tow vehicle and trailer. From there, the shop can order and properly install the correct weight distribution system to work for your set up.
If you have a bumper pull horse trailer, a weight distribution system is always going to help you haul more safely on the road. There are not any situations where it is “overkill” or a poor choice.
On the contrary, a weight distribution system can provide an extra safe guard for times when you may be hauling a little more weight in your truck or trailer than you normally do. Improved steering, braking, and a more level ride will help you and your horses arrive safely at your destination - ready for a day of fun!
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