Important Terms to Know

More detailed information can be found in The Complete Guide to Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer by Neva Kittrell Scheve

Curb Weight - The weight of a vehicle with standard equipment, maximum capacity of fuel, oil, and coolant, This does not include optional equipment or passengers.

Gross Axle Weight (GAW) - The weight that is loaded on the front or rear axle

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) - The amount specified by the manufacturer as the maximum weight that can safely be loaded onto the axle.

Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVW) - The actual weight of the loaded truck and the loaded trailer combined.

Gross Combination Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR) - The value specified by the manufacturer of the tow vehicle that is the maximum the total trailer combination can safely weigh. This includes the combined weight of the tow vehicle, the trailer, passengers, horses, plus all equipment and supplies carried in both the tow vehicle and the trailer.

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) also Gross Weight (GW) - The actual weight of a single vehicle and its complete load.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) - The value specified as the maximum loaded weight of a single vehicle. For the tow vehicle, this includes the weight of the tow vehicle, fuel, all passengers, equipment, and the tongue weight of the trailer, either a tag-along or gooseneck. For the trailer, this includes the weight of the trailer plus mats, spare tire, horses, hay, feed, supplies, etc.

Payload - Gross payload is the weight of all passengers, options, and cargo that is being carried in/on the vehicle. Net payload is the weight that can be placed in/on the vehicle after the weight of the passengers, optional equipment, and cargo has been subtracted from the payload rating.

Payload Rating - the maximum allowable payload for the vehicle

Tongue Weight - The amount of the trailer's weight that presses down on the trailer hitch (tag-along) or the rear axle (gooseneck). Too much tongue weight can cause suspension/drive train damage, and can press the vehicle down in back causing the front wheels to lift to the point where traction, steering response, and braking are severely decreased. Too little tongue weight can actually lift the rear of the vehicle, reducing rear-wheel traction and causing instability which may result in tail-wagging or jackknifing. On trailers over 2000 lbs. tongue weight should be 10-17% of trailer weight. For gooseneck trailers, tongue weight should be 25% of trailer weight.

Weight Carrying Hitch - supports the weight of the tongue as it presses down on the hitch. The hitch is rated by the tongue weight in can support and also by the trailer weight.

Weight Distributing (equalizing) Hitch - distributes the tongue weight to all the wheels of the tow vehicle and trailer. This allows greater tongue weights and trailer weights to be carried and tends to keep the tow vehicle more level and stable. A weight-distributing hitch greatly surpasses the capacity of the weight-carrying hitch. Examples of a Weight Distributing Hitch are a gooseneck hitch and a tag-along Class IV hitch with equalizer bars attached.

This horse trailer safety article is provided by EquiSpirit Horse Trailers.
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