How To Choose A Good Saddle – In Depth Video Series

how to chose a good saddle

I have have spent years riding horses and have owned a few saddles during that time. The main question for many riders looking to buy new or replace their saddle is how to chose a good saddle.

What kind of saddle would be best for me and my horse? They become confused by the advice of friends and advertising and don’t know where to start.

Having been the owner of several saddles in my lifetime let me give you some points to think about.

What To Consider When Looking For A Saddle

  • Do you have more than one horse that you ride with the same saddle or will that one horse be the only one you will ride with the saddle you buy?
  • Do you know what size seat you need? What to look for in a perfect fit.
  • What kind of riding are you doing? All Around Performance, Pleasure, Trail Riding, Barrel Racing, Ranch Cutting? Your saddle should be designed for your event.
  • What size Gullet do you need for your horse?
  • Tips and tricks to make your saddle fit your horse better
  • Does your saddle tree fit your horse properly?
  • Pros and cons of saddle pads and cinches.
  • Discuss various types of saddles
  • Dry spots on your horses back. Why they are there?

I have heard many people say that the blanket or gel pads will make your saddle fit better. Not so! Blankets and pads can only make a bad fitting saddle more uncomfortable for both you and your horse.

I could go on and on but decided to scour the internet and I found the best video I could find on fitting your Western saddle.  Larry Trocha from answers about every question you could think to ask. Its 3 videos separately and a bit long so pick a time and listen to it all.  You won’t regret it and your horse will be happy. Your horse can’t tell you…. so get educated.

Part 1 Of How To Choose A Saddle

Part 2 Of How To Choose A Saddle

Part 3 Of How To Choose A Saddle

What Is A Gaited Horse Saddle – Learn From The Pro

What Is A Gaited Horse Saddle

Are you having trouble getting your horse to gait or keeping the horse in gait? As a Farrier I managed to keep gaited riders happy and did pretty well getting angles right etc.

What I want to discuss here is having the right saddle. I’ve had gaited horses that have gone well for one owner but in the next stable with a new owner troubles galore. Same shoes, different rider, different saddle.

Most people don’t put much thought into the saddle. Gaited horses need the freedom to move unrestricted but some saddles do not give them the ability to do that.

It’s not easy to convince people that it could be the saddle. The same saddle may work well for one rider and not another. It’s the way you sit the saddle.

As Farriers we get the pat on the back if we can get them going right but shown the door if we can’t. There may be other reasons your horse won’t gait although it could well be the saddle that restricts them.

The video above is from The Horse Show with Rick Lamb. Rick interviews Oklahoma saddle maker Doug Ford and he offers his take on the type of horse that needs gaited saddles and how he goes about making them to fit properly 

Keep Your Horse’s Legs Safe With Boots, Wraps, Bandages

Bell Boots

The athlete needs help whether human or animal. The physical strain that is put on our horses limbs by powerful muscular bodies will necessitate the need for protective gear. Leg injuries take up a lot of our time and a lot of down time. We must do what we can to insure against these injuries.

Most leg problems happen in young horses that we push too hard. Their bodies are still developing and the legs cannot take movements they are expected to perform. Most every discipline has a 2 year old class and we expect our young horse to perform like a mature animal when their minds and bodies and still babies and not near done growing.

This is when many splint injuries happen. Horses are trying to learn movements that when free and in motion are natural but when asked to do them under saddle must be taught all over again. Let’s look at some different leg protection:

Shipping Boots And Bandages

Boots or bandages are put on to prevent injuries when in transit to protect legs from getting banged with other feet while trying to keep their balance while moving. Leg protection is needed if a horse is scared while loading or just being obstinate.  

As you may all know horses don’t always need a reason. These wraps go from hock to hoof. Shipping boots provide more protection than wraps. Make sure the legs are clean of any debris as that can cause irritation under the wrap or boot. Watch that they are not on to tight to cause swelling.

Bell Boots

Bell boots fit around and underneath the fetlock and be Velcroed in place.  Some do have buckles and some will stretch enough to slip over the hoof. These will cover the bulb of the heel to prevent a painful injury .  They will also protect the coronet.

Proper Leg Protection With Boots And Wraps (Video)

Tendon Boots

These boots have elastic straps across the front and hook closers.  They have padding that protects the ligaments and tendons on sides and back of the legs but have an open front for jumpers so the horses can tell if they hit a pole when jumping.   Also the open front helps with air flow. You do have to make sure dirt and debris don’t get in and irritate under the boot.

Skid Boots

Skid boots go on the hind feet.  They protect the lower legs, fetlock and pasterns from getting hit with the other hoof.  Skid boots are used by reining and cutting horses and well as horses used in ranch work. Any time a horse has to learn new moves in any discipline this kind of protection is great.

Sports Medicine Boot

Sport medicine boots are used during exercise to protect the muscles and tendons as well as the fetlock and pastern.  Sometimes there are only used on the front legs and using them on all four seems to balance the horse better by supporting all four.  The medicine boot helps to protect against tendon strains and sprains, suspensory injuries and splints.

Splint Boots

Splint boots are used to prevent injuries during exercise when horses are learning new disciplines or tearing around in turnouts where the could strike one hoof into the other leg. Placing the splint boot or any wrap or boot on properly is important to maximize the protection.

Applying Leg Wraps (Video)

Polo Wraps

Polo wraps can add color, can be different length and are stretchy.  Polo wraps can protect against scrapes bumps and bruises and other irritation from dirt etc. These can be called track wraps but because of the type of material they consist of they will pick up sticks, burrs etc.  Therefore, they should not be used on trail rides. It is important to keep wraps clean and do not leave on in a stall or turnout as they can unravel.

Standing Wraps

Standing wraps should be used with padding and polo wraps.  They can be used in stalls for keeping swelling down or stocking up after a workout.  They are also used for keeping and treating injuries, cut and with some surgeries. If using a liniment make sure to check regularly so too much heat doesn’t build up.  Standing wraps can also be used for shipping if shipping boots are available.

Horse Thrush Treatment – Super Cheap – Super Effective

How To Cure Thrush In Horses

GRRRRRR! there it is again!  Looks like thrush!  Why? My stalls are clean, paddocks clean. How can it keep happening? Thrush and horse thrush treatment can be a pain, but I’ll show you way to ease your angst.

It’s not always dirt and wet that can cause thrush. It can be dry hooves but who knows it may be the way the frog is shaped that will hold moisture or bacteria.

First thing to do is to get the hoof trim properly and make sure the frog is trimmed. This could be a problem depending on how bad the frog is. If the frog is to the point where it is bleeding it can be very sore so trimming can only be done a little at a time as the healing takes place. Having the frog in a well trimmed state is very important as this will alleviate most of the thrush problems.

thrush hoof

As a Farrier I’ve seen about every remedy. Some work, some didn’t.  Some caused more problems than you already have.  I do remember a procedure with Iodine crystals and turpentine that would make smoke come off the hoof.  It did help but not always handy to have around.  Then there is bleach. It will help but presents its own problems. Get any on the hairline and you will get burns and some very hard hoof. I never used it…too risky. 

Iodine will work but again if you use it too often it can make the hoof very hard. I did use it for painting the bottom of the sole to toughen them up if hooves got too wet for an extended period of time. There are over the counter products that may work like Thrush XX and Thrush Buster.  Might or might not work.

The Cheap Fix

So now you’ll get the remedy THAT WORKS from an ole retired Farrier (I hate saying ole Farrier).

SALTPETER! (potassium nitrate). I learned this many many many years ago from a Farrier I apprenticed with. It works, it is not hard to use, is not expensive and most times you will only have to apply it once to stop the thrush.

Clean and trim as much as possible from the hoof and frog area. Pour a layer of the Saltpeter (white crystals) onto the frog and down into the crevices.

Then with a blunt tool (I used a blunt screwdriver most of the time)start packing it in all the area where the thrush is.

Salt Peter

At first the horse will be sensitive but the more you pack the area it will numb up and I recommend you pack it in really good. The Saltpeter can run anywhere and will not hurt the horse or hoof. Saltpeter can be purchased at many drug stores or you can order it online for a cost of only about 3 or 4 dollars. A small bottle will last for a long time.

There you have it.

Is Your Horse A Liability, A Luxury, Or Part Of The Family?

Is Your Horse A Liability

I was at a high end show and training facility doing farrier work when a person stopped to watch. He said, “Wow, how can I make money on horses?” The owner of the horse asked “Do you own a horse?” The guy said “No”. Owner replied “You have made as much money as you’ll ever make on a horse.”

So what is your horse? An expensive hobby. A pet. An interest to a child. A way to make a living. A needed work animal, or a part of our life? Most of us are in the class that says their horse is a part of their life so we just keep paying.

Your Horse Depends On You For Everthing

If we are lucky enough to have our own facility, we can enjoy going for a ride, spending time grooming and doing the necessary care that horses need. Once they are in our life they cannot take care of themselves as a wild horse can so they are dependent upon us for everything.

If they live on our property we no longer can run off for a long weekend or a week vacation without someone to take the responsibility to come and care for them. It is not all that easy to find that someone who will take care of your animals as well as you do.

If your horse is part of your free time as in shows, trail rides and camping trips, we take the responsibility of calling the vet for health checks, keeping your horse up to date on shots. The farrier is scheduled for the year and proper food essentials are taken care of. Thats everyday and year round.

Horse Stable

You Can Get A Little Help For - For A Price

The other way to keep your horse is at a boarding stable. You should still be responsible for your horses needs but for most of their care you depend on the people working at the facility. You can plan other things in your life knowing that your horse will be taken care of.

The stable would provide the feed schedules, call the vet if necessary and the farrier for footwork. They also usually have the equipment to haul your horse for you. Your part is the money to provide all these services for you and your horse. Either way the cost is substantial.

A Horse Really Is Part Of The Family

For a family, horses are a good thing. They teach our children the responsibility of caring for something and they learn the enjoyment that horses and riding can be in their lives. You have a horse under you with powerful muscles and a mind of its own for you to learn to control to your way. Not always easy, sometimes hurtful but always beautiful memories for the whole family.

So…Asset?…Liability?…Luxury? You decide…

Kids Petting A Horse

What Are The Health Benefits Of Horseback Riding?

Girl Hugging A Quarter Horse

It’s a beautiful day outside. You’re in the fitness center working out like crazy to keep those pounds off. Or maybe you’re working up a sweat running down the road. Have you ever seen a runner that didn’t look like they were in pain??

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE BETTER?  I know, how about saddling up a horse, finding a nice trail, enjoying the great outdoors and toning up those muscles?  Have you ever seen a cowboy that wasn’t lean? How about a Dressage rider or an Eventer?

Horsback Riding - The Whole Body Workout

If you’re looking for a non-traditional way to exercise, horseback riding may be just the ticket for you.

“Horseback riding really works the core muscles that stabilize the trunk; the abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles.” “It’s not just about the strength of the core, but the coordination and stability of it as well. The more you ride, the more the body learns to move with the horse.”

(Alison Stout, DO)

Horseback riding is a great way to exercise different parts of the body. It can be challenging and calming and a great confidence builder and at the same time a great stress reliever.

There are of course the passengers riders – riders who get on a horse just to travel. They show no effort and it is the horse who does all the work A rider rides a horse…posting trots, sitting trots along with a nice lope or hand gallop. Being just a passenger rider will not help you lose that weight or develop the core muscles you seek.

Health Benefits Of Horseback Riding

Benefits Of Horseback Riding Offers:

  • Core Strength - Riding is an isometric exercise so you use specific muscles to stay in certain positions
  • Balance and Coordination - A Rider must develop coordination skills to move the body with the horse in order to maintain balance.
  • Muscle Tone and Flexibility - The inner thighs, pelvic muscles and core muscles get the biggest workout.
  • Cardiovascular Exercise - Depending on the type of riding, horseback riding can require more effort, energy and cardiovascular capacity.
  • Mental Exercise - Confidence comes from learning how to handle and interact with a huge animal. You being in complete control of every move and every turn. Your body is working and balancing to the wonderful movement under you. You learn about yourself as you spend time on a horse.

But Wait - There's More!

An additional bonus to riding is working in the barn and taking care of a horse. Lifting bags of feed, hauling hay, shoveling, and walking horses in and out of a barn are not light tasks. These activities require a fair amount of strength and endurance.

Add getting your horse ready to ride, saddling up and lunging for a while to loosen up. Don’t forget rubbing your horse down after a ride. Putting equipment away and picking out the stall. I’m leaving out the good part…the camaraderie of spending time with your horse with all its hugs and nuzzles.

Riding Horses To Stay In Shape

Here is a study on calories burned riding a horse and that doesn’t include the before and after activity.

  • 30 Minutes - 225 Calories
  • 1 Hour - 450 Calories
  • 2 Hours - 890 Calories
  • 8 Hours - 3600 Calories

And all the while enjoying one of life’s great experiences.  How could you even think of a better way to lose weight and stay in condition?

Horse Trailer Hookup Safety – Don’t Skimp The Little Things

Horse Trailer Hitch

Started my day heading for my weekly coffee clutch with the boys. Every day has its learning experiences and this was no different.

While moving along the highway at 70 mph there was a truck and trailer just ahead of me.  All of a sudden I noticed the back end of the trailer seemed to lift and swerve to the left.  Being familiar with trailers and my instinct I realized the trailer had come off the ball on the truck.  I immediately slowed and fortunately the driver was aware enough and the truck heavy enough to stabilize everything and brought them to a safe stop. 

This truck and trailer belonged to a business and most likely the driver hauled trailers a lot of the time but still someone made a mistake by not double checking his hitch setup before he left.

We all spend a lot of time on the highways and see every kind of car, suv or truck pulling an assortment of different trailers and I often wonder if the hookups, hitches and braking systems
on all of these rigs are safe? This mornings experience answered that question……NO!

Make Sure To Sweat The Details

We are all capable of making mistakes but, a mistake when hitching up our trailer puts not only ourselves but our horses and other people on the road at risk.  Many times we are running late, in a hurry, or distracted talking with someone or numerous other things. 

Many businesses have a check off sheet their drivers are required to do everyday before driving.  This check off list should also be something we do as it is our responsibility to be safe for everyone on the road.

Horse Trailer Accident

Check your brake system.  You do that by adjusting the brake box in the cab.  The trailer brakes should take hold just a little before your vehicle brakes. Otherwise the trailer will have a tendency to push you around. 

Also check your safety cable.  Pull it apart and try moving the trailer.  If the wheels are locked its working.  The cable will pull out hard and it can rust so by pulling it out several times a year it stays clean and in working condition

Got Anything Electrical? Check That Also

If your system has a battery, make sure it is charged up at all times.  In some systems the battery will charge off the vehicle when the wire cables are hooked up.  Otherwise remove the battery and make sure it is fully charged.

All sliding and moving parts on your ball hitch should be lubricated and free.  Lubricate the ball itself to keep from wearing.  Lube the jack so it turns free and make sure all bolts are tight.

Check your safety chains so they don’t drag on the road and become worn.  Twisting the chain will take up slack but make sure when turning corners they remain free.

The Rubber Meets The Road

Check the condition of your tires. Tires blowing out can rip up your trailer fenders and result in accidents.  It only takes a few minutes to check and double check your hookups and can save a lifetime of misery.

Think Your Child Is Ready To Own A Horse? – Let’s Discuss

Child is Ready To Own A Horse

So the time has come and you feel you child is ready to own a horse.  Let’s take a moment to go over a few questions that will help gauge whether your child is ready, or should wait a little bit.

Starting Out With The Basics

Has your child taken riding lessons, been raised around horses or worked around horses in the past?

If the answers to the above are NO then finding a good riding instructor is the first step and the most important one.  Ask horse owners in your area who is a reputable riding instructor giving lessons and start your child’s path to horsemanship there.  Make sure your child has a real interest in riding and not just a passing fancy.  There is a lot more to horses than just riding.

My reasoning for lessons and not buying a horse first is simple….MONEY!  Good riding lessons not only teach your child how to ride but, prepare them to take care of a horse.  Depending on your area lessons run about $35.00 an hour.  That’s $140.00 a month.  Compare that to the cost of a horse (more on that later) plus board of say $350.00 or more a month.  Add in vet bills, farrier bills, and any other expense not included with board and the cost of lessons is your best option.

Horse Ownership For Children

Always Think Safety First

BIG ONE “SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY“.  Your child’s safety is first and foremost.  I have, as a trainer and a farrier, had the opportunity to work and ride some of the very best horses and some of the worst horses and many in between.  I know many horse lovers would beat me with a wet noodle when I tell you there isn’t a horse born that can’t hurt your child.  Maybe not intentionally but….

I recently saw on Facebook a picture of a child maybe 3 years old leading a nice gentle horse on a snowy, icy lane. Looked so sweet. Quickly my horse mind clicked in and I thought WOW, what if that horse slips on the ice or snow.  Scrambling to catch its footing the child is caught under the horse’s feet or worse under the horse.  So much for the pretty picture.

Child Proof Horse? Think Again

I have had so called “child proof” horses spin and kick with both hind feet as I hit the ground instinctively.  A child without training would have been hurt badly. 

Picking up a horse’s foot is also part of the training, but what happens when a fly or bug bites the horse at that same time and the horse tries to kick or bite it off letting go with his hind legs?  Riding on the trail and a rabbit or pheasant jumps and your horse bolts? These and many more incidents I have seen happen. Although I realize there is no way to prevent things from happening, being prepared with the proper guidance and training should be on the very top of your list.

Find the “child proof” horse is a little like winning the lottery.  If you do get lucky that horse will have a few years on it.  Keep in mind an older horse may need the services of a Vet more often also.  You will probably need to have a trainer work with the horse because no matter how well the horse has been trained they will pick up bad habits from inexperienced riders.  Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Is He/She Ready For The Responsibilities Of Owning A Horse?

Does your child want to ride Western, Huntseat or English.  Keep in mind each method requires proper equipment for the horse that fits properly.  (Fitting equipment on your horse will be discussed in another segment).  Remember the horse needs daily care which means trips to the stable regardless of the weather or other commitments.  Responsibility plays a big part in any aspect of learning to ride and care for a horse.

I realize it sounds like I’m discouraging anyone from learning to ride or own a horse.  Not so! I just want to help you make the right decisions regarding horse ownership for your child.  I have owned horses, rode, and treated horses all my life.  The rewards are bountiful, the pleasures endless and the people who love horses and ride are the greatest.

5 Horse Trailer Flooring Options – Pros And Cons

Horse Trailer Flooring

In a past article, I showed you five handy steps to help you find the right trailer. For this post we’re going to dig a little deeper into five horse trailer flooring options. Now, you might be thinking that the type of flooring you have in your trailer isn’t all that important, but what you choose can make a big difference to your trailer, your horse, and your pocketbook.

I’ll talk about five options to consider: Wood, Aluminum, Rumber, Polylast and WERM. Each choice is different and has its own advantages and disadvantages. Differences range from cost and maintenance, to leg support for your horse. I’m going to take you through each options pros and cons, then you can decide for yourself which is best. We’ll cover these five main factors when considering trailer flooring:

  • Durability
  • Heat Transfer
  • Noise/Vibration Transfer
  • Maintenane
  • Cost

Wood Horse Trailer Flooring

When it comes to trailer flooring wood is a classic choice. Wood has been used for years and is still used today despite some more modern choices available and for good reason.

Durability: As long as the wood is installed properly with ¼” spacing and treated to protect against rot you’ll find that it lasts much longer than other types of flooring. The spacing helps with proper ventilation which allows for better drainage and keeps the wood from rotting prematurely.

Noise/Vibration Transfer: Because wood gives and bends slightly, it causes less vibrations and absorbs the shock of the road much better than materials like aluminum. This gives horses a much smoother, quieter ride while protecting their joints at the same time.

Heat Transfer: Unlike other options, wood won’t conduct heat from the road on those long summer hauls, and in the winter it won’t retain the cold. This means that you’ve got a comfortable ride for your horses year-round.

Maintenance: Wood floors are pretty low maintenance, but many people prefer to use rubber mats over them to provide extra cushion for their horse. If you do use rubber mats then you’ll have to take them out and hose them down about three times a year.

Cost: Wood is one of the most cost effective options for trailer flooring as long as it’s treated and properly maintained. If you ever have to replace or repair the floor the lumber is readily accessible, cheap, and it doesn’t require an expert to install. The typical range is from $600-900 depending on the size of your trailer and if you have a dressing room.

Aluminum Horse Trailer Flooring

Aluminum Horse Trailer Flooring

Heavily promoted by trailer companies, aluminum has been a very popular choice for trailer floors over the last few years. While it has its own merits, you might find that the drawbacks exceed the benefits.

Durability: Aluminum weighs less than other flooring options, but because it’s lighter, it’s also weaker. You have the option of planked aluminum floors- interlocked pieces that are stronger than the standard option, but even those require a lot more support than other types of flooring.

Noise/Vibration transfer: Unlike wood, aluminum does not absorb shock well and therefore creates a lot of noise and vibrations. Neither of these is going to help give your horse soundness of mind…or hoof for that matter.

Heat transfer: This just in! Aluminum is a highly conductive material! Surprised? I didn’t think so. This means the floors of your trailer are going to be burning in the summer and absolutely frigid in the winter.

Maintenance: While relatively easy to maintain, you have to be very careful to consistently clean your aluminum floors. This means taking out the rubber mats, rinsing them and the trailer, and letting everything fully dry before you replace them. You’ll want to do this at least 5 times a year. You’ll also want to have an acid bath done twice a year to help prevent oxidation and rust.

Cost: Being one of the most standard flooring options, aluminum isn’t as pricey compared to other options. However, if you end up having to replace it due to corrosion, the repairs run up to around $1000.

Rumbar Horse Trailer Flooring

A more modern option, Rumber is a synthetic material made of 60% recycled rubber and 40% recycled plastic. It is made into tongue and groove boards that are fitted together to form a solid surface without the need for rubber mats on top.

Durability: Rumber is an extremely tough material that lasts for a long time. Because of its textured material it provides good, solid footing for the barefoot or shod horse even when wet.

Noise/vibration transfer: The mix of rubber and plastic effectively reduce noise and vibrations which means your horse’s ride is a lot more pleasant.

Heat Transfer: Of the five options, Rumber transfers the least amount of heat making it a great choice for those down South.

Maintenance: Cleaning Rumber couldn’t be any easier. You simply hose it out and let it dry. You don’t have to worry about drainage either; it easily drains out the back.

Cost: Perhaps the only drawback of Rumber is that it’s a little pricier than the first two flooring options. It runs upwards of $2000 generally, but if you factor in the cost to replace other types of flooring you might end up saving in the long run.

Polylast Horse Trailer Flooring

Polylast Horse Trailer Flooring

Another eco-friendly option, Polylast is made of 100% recycled rubber mixed with an adhesive. It is mixed and poured to ½” to ¾” thickness and leveled off using a trowel.

Durability: Similarly to Rumber, Polylast is very strong and lasts long time. Because it is bonded to the trailer floor, it will also protect the trailer bed from exposure to moisture and acid.

Noise/Vibrations: Being 100% rubber, naturally Polylast absorbs road noise and vibrations better than the other flooring choices. It provides lots of cushion and is slip resistant making it an ideal option for long hauls.

Heat Transfer: Polylast is a great insulator against heat and cold, your trailer will stay temperate and comfortable.

Maintenance: Cleaning Polylast is very easy. You just rinse it out and let it dry. Since it’s a porous material, moisture is able to drain through and the supporting floor with 5/16” holes drilled every 12” on center completes the drainage. This helps protect the integrity of your trailer bed. If the flooring is damaged however, it is very difficult to repair.

Cost: The main drawback is how expensive Polylast is. I’ve since quotes ranging from $10-16/ square foot and if it is damaged at any point it is very costly to fix.

WERM Horse Trailer Flooring

This product is very similar to Polylast in that it is also made of 100% recycled rubber, mixed with adhesive and applied to the trailer floor in the same way.

Durability: WERM floors are quite durable and since they completely seal off the trailer floor the trailer bed is well protected. However they are prone to being damaged by horses that paw in the trailer, so if your horse gets restless on hauls this might not be an ideal choice.

Noise/Vibrations: Noise/Vibration reduction is top notch and the cushion, non-slip flooring provides excellent support for your horse.

Heat Transfer: Because WERM is made from 100% rubber it will not transfer heat and protects against the cold.

Maintenance: Just like Polylast, you simply have to rinse out your trailer with a hose to clean it. The only concern is that if, for some reason, moisture does find its way under the WERM flooring it will corrode your trailer bed and make it unstable. Also keep in mind that if the flooring is damaged, it is very costly to have repairs done.

Cost: The starting cost is around $10/square foot, but the size and make of your trailer can affect the end cost.

Everyone has their own ideas when it comes to trailer flooring. Some people swear that their WERM floors are the best thing they ever did for their trailer, others love the value of Rumber. I’m a no frills kinda guy myself so I prefer wood flooring above all. Whatever you choose, just be sure to take good care of it and you’ll have a trailer floor that won’t let you down.

5 Steps To Buying A Horse Trailer – What You Need To Know

Gooseneck Horse Trailer

So your thinking about buying a horse trailer.  Size Matters, but think about this…

You decide to buy a shiny new slant-load advertising a roomy 10’ stall length.  You’ve got a big horse so 10 feet is sounding darn near perfect right?

Except it’s not. That salesman forgot to mention the way they measure stall length is from the front corner to the opposite back corner. The is how TV screens are measured as well.

So now you’ve got a big horse squeezed up like a sausage against that divider with his head up against the trailer wall and no way to keep his balance.

There’s a lot more to think about than just size when buying a horse trailer. This is why I’ve made a comprehensive checklist to help you find the right fit.

1. What Are Your Trailer Type Options?

You have two basic options when considering trailers: Bumper pull or Gooseneck.

Bumper pulls are good starter trailers if this is your first rodeo. They tend to be less intimidating than gooseneck trailers for people who are new to hauling horses. They are also less costly since you may not have to buy a truck to haul a bumper pull. An SUV ought to be just fine.

However, you get what you pay for so with a bumper pull. You’ll have less space to work with and if you’re interested in a sizable tack room you might want to consider the other option.

Goosenecks are great for those with more experience towing trailer. They have more space which gives them more options for you and your horses.

If you’re hauling bigger horses, or want a living quarters, a gooseneck is going to be your best bet. The biggest advantage with buying a gooseneck is the stability. Because of the weight distribution, goosenecks are less likely to sway than bumper pulls. This gives you a greater degree of control.

Breeds Of Horses

2. What Breed of Horse and How Many Will You Be Hauling?

How many horses are you going to be hauling on a regular basis? If you’re taking more than one horse regularly, then you’ll need to consider their combined width. With two average sized horses (14-16 hands) you’ll want around 6 feet to fit them comfortably. For anything bigger you’ve got the option of 6 foot 6 inch or 7 feet.

What breed are you hauling? Breeds like Saddlebreds and Warmbloods carry their heads higher than other breeds. You’ll need a trailer with enough height to accommodate them. 7’6 is a good place to start when dealing with bigger horses. Always better to have a bit too much headspace than too little.

3. What Features Do You Need?

Do you need a standard tack room?  If you ride the show circuit you might need a full living quarters for overnight shows.

The inside of your trailer is extremely important and there are plenty of options to consider.  You can choose between aluminum, steel, wood, rubber, and poured rubber.  You can check out the pro and cons of each in my article detailing trailer flooring options. 

Head bumpers are a feature to think about when considering your horse’s safety.

Mangers are an option for hay feeding and water.  Of concern is the possibility that your horse could get a foot up and stuck in the manger.  This is dangerous for both the animal and anyone trying to help get the horse out.

Ventilation is an extremely important feature to think about when considering a trailer.  There needs to be plenty of airflow to allow  your horse to breath clearly and to keep from getting overheated on Summer hauls.

Give consideration to adding remote cameras.  When you’re traveling long distances it’s a great tool for keeping an eye on what is happening in and around your trailer while on the move.  You may also consider installing a backup camera to help with maneuvering into tricky spaces.

What kind of flooring are you looking at for your trailer.  There are many different flooring options.  Each has their pros and cons and are important considerations.

4. How Do You Want Load And Unload Your Horse?

Horses can be pretty particular when they want to be.  Some prefer a ramp over a step-up.  There are those that simply refuse to back out.  This requires extra space in the trailer for them to be turned around and led out safely.

If you go with a ramp make sure to get one that goes up and latches behind the doors of the trailer.  It’s much safer and more secure in hauling.

If you prefer to turn your horse around and lead him out be sure to get a wider trailer to accommodate this.   The last thing you want is to be stuck with no place to go if your horse start to panic.  With wider trailers you can opt to have the tire wells inside.  Just make sure this won’t interfere with the horse’s comfort.

5. Will You Buy New Or Used?

Buying a horse trailer is a big investment and the costs can be daunting to think about.  Whether you buy new or used, the most important factor is safety along with durability.  If you think buying a used horse trailer is the way to go, there are a few things to look out for…

The underside of the trailer if often overlooked.  Be sure to check for corrosion or rust due to ground moisture.

Be sure the breaks and break assembly are working properly.  This should be obvious 🙂

Check all tires including the spare for wear and tear.

The hitch MUST be in excellent condition.  No middle ground here.

If there is a dressing room inside the trailer.  Make sure it is higher than the areas where the horses stand.  If not, urine and moisture can get into your living quarters.  This is NOT a pleasant smell one that is not easily removed from clothes and other items.

If you are looking at an aluminum trailer ask the owner for proof that it has been acid washed at least two times a year.  Manufacturers will not issue a warranty with proof of proper care.

Tying It All Together

Now if I were a horse, I’d say the heck with all the fancy stuff and get a good stock trailer. This would give me plenty of room to move. Place a slam gate in the middle so I can have a companion for the rides. It wouldn’t be the best looking trailer to pull into a show with, but I’d be one happy horse and far easier to deal with 🙂

Buying a horse trailer can be a huge undertaking. Knowing exactly what you want it half the battle. Once you gone through all the steps and decided what trailer is best for you, the rest is just putting in the legwork to find that perfect fit for you and your four legged buddies.

Malcare WordPress Security