Tom's Trailer TalkQUICK TIP

SAFE TOW VEHICLES - Towing with an inadequate vehicle will endanger you, your horses, and others out on the road. Here is what you need to know:
  • Use three criteria when choosing a safe tow vehicle: towing capacity, wheelbase length, curb (actual) weight
  • Towing capacity is the amount of weight the manufacturer states that the tow vehicle can pull and still be safe. A horse trailer has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating - the amount the trailer can hold including itself and still be safe. The GVWR is always more than the actual weight of the loaded trailer. The towing capacity should be 20% more than the weight it’s pulling. If you’re not sure of the weight, have it be 20% more than the GVWR.
  • Wheelbase length is the distance from the rear axle to the front axle. The longer the wheelbase the less likely the front end will raise up from tongue weight pushing down behind the rear axle. Shorter wheelbase vehicles should always use a weight distribution system (often mistakenly called sway bars) to stabilize the rig and eliminate the front of the tow vehicle from lifting.
  • Curb weight is the amount of weight the tow vehicle weighs empty. The lighter the tow vehicle is in relation to the loaded weight of the trailer, the less control you will have and the rig. A 5,000 pound tow vehicle can safely tow a 6,000 pound trailer. A 4,200 pound tow vehicle can not.
  • Example of a safe tow vehicle for a standard 2 horse trailer with or without a dressing room:

Ford Expedition: Bare minimum wheel base length should be 112 inches. The longer the wheels base the more stable the vehicle. The Expedition has 122.5 inch length Most two horse bumper pulls have a GVWR of 7,000 pounds. 20% times 7,000 pounds totals 8,400 pounds. The Expedition can tow 9,000 to 9,300 pounds.

Note: Always check the rating of your frame mounted hitch. A 9,300 pound towing capacity vehicle often has a hitch that has a weight carrying towing capacity of only 5,000 pounds – see article on hitches.

  • Goosenecks
    • For 3 or more horses, use a gooseneck over a bumper pull.
    • A truck can handle more tongue weight when it’s placed in the bed of the truck over the axles (gooseneck) than it can behind the axles. A 150 (1,500) ½ ton truck can hold up to 3,300 lbs in the bed and up to only 1,200 pounds of tongue weight on the frame mounted hitch using a Weight Distribution System.
    Tom's Trailer Talk "Quick Tips" are provided by EquiSpirit Trailer Co.
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