So you’ve purchased a horse and bought the trailer – but do you have the right truck for towing them?
Choosing the right vehicle to protect your precious cargo requires a little research before you go to the dealer and pick out a shiny new truck. It’s important to make a smart decision when you’re choosing a truck for towing your horse trailer.
The first thing to know before deciding on a towing truck, is how much your horse trailer weighs. Some trailers will have their empty weight listed on the title. More important than that weight though, is to know the Gross Vehicle Weight, or “GVW”.
The GVW is the combined weight of a single trailer with its full load. But to confuse things a little, the GVW is not the actual weight. It’s the total weight the trailer can weigh and still be towed safely, as stated by the manufacturer.
The manufacturer will usually print this rating on a sticker inside the trailer. In order to find out the GVW, load up everything you think you might take with you when your truck is towing your trailer (including your horse, feed, water, equipment, etc.).
Next, take a towing trip with truck, trailer, and horse to a scale and weigh everything. Be careful though - there are many factors that determine weight besides the construction material. The weight is listed on the title, it’s probably going to be the generic weight of that trailer model. If a manufacturer added extra features, they won’t add that on to the listed weight. So add another 20 percent to be safe.
If you can’t load it up the trailer and weigh it, don’t despair. Just use the manufacture’s GVW, make a rough estimate of the combined weight of your horse, equipment, and supplies, and don’t overload it. If you don't overload the trailer, your truck will have the recommended margin you need for towing your horse and trailer safely.
GVW rating of a trailer is also determined by its axle capacity. Axle capacity is the combined weight rating of each axle. For example, if your two-axle trailer has a GVW rating of 5,000 pounds, that means each axle on the trailer is a two 2,500-pound rated axle.
Remember to consider the coupler capacity of the trailer. For safety reasons, your trailer’s coupler should always be equal to, or greater than, the axle capacity. Also, if you’ll be traveling through Utah’s mountains, consider a larger towing capacity than if you’re hauling on the regular roads. The towing capacity of a truck with horse and trailer is generally calculated for hauling on flat ground.