2 Horse Trailer- Slant or Straight? Ramp or No Ramp?

Looking to upgrade my trailer- currently have a 2 horse slant load Shadow with a dressing room. It’s been a great little trailer, we bought brand new from the dealer no real issues, I just want something nicer and a little bigger.

I’ve owned a straight load with a ramp, a 3 horse slant load step up and my current 2 horse slant step up. Trying to decide if I want a 2 horse straight load or a 2 horse slant? And what brands I should look at or stay away from? Would prefer to probably buy new.

My complaints with the Shadow are:

  1. I didn’t realize they had a regular and a wide version when I purchased, I have the more narrow one. I feel like it’s a tight squeeze for my bigger horse he’s a Gypsy only 15.1 hands but he’s about 1400 pounds. And it’s tight for them to turn around
  2. I hate that it does not have a butt bar for the rear stall, and the back door is all that’s there
  3. I hate the lack of padding on the divider
  4. Not a huge fan of the latch on the divider

Things I love:

  1. Drop down windows with bars that stay up separately
  2. Easily converts to a box stall when we’re hauling yearlings/2 year olds
  3. Easy, no fuss simple trailer

I’ve had both: straight & slant, ramp & stepup. All 2H.

My current trailer has proved to be my favorite in 20+ years of trailers - it is #4.
16’ stock with center gate, stepup.
It has proved so versatile & useful I wouldn’t go back to anything else.

My largest horse now is 16H, but I can see my 17H+ WB would have fit with ample room.
He was squished in the 2H slant I had at the time, even when I tied the partition back & hauled him alone.

I had ramps w/hydraulic & they still weighed a ton.
Iike the fact that they lower their heads getting on a stepup - no bonking head on the roof.
Well… Except the 34" mini who jumps onboard :grin:

In a pinch I could put all 3 on.
Horse, 13H pony & the mini.

I drive the mini & his cart fits in front easily.
I’ve even had both carts - wire Easy Entry & Wood showcart loaded along with mini. Room for a bag of shavings & 2 40# bales of hay + other “stuff” w/carts.

Weather permitting, I could use the front half as sleeping quarters for me.
Even with a horse loaded behind the gate.
Probably not a restful night for me :unamused:

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Lots of threads about this type of topic lately. Everyone must be buying a new trailer.

What features you like best can easily be called horrible features to the next person. So ramp or no ramp are things you will have to decide for yourself. I know I will not buy without a ramp again and there are just as many people here who hate ramps.

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I probably should have asked for more brand specific reviews. It is hit or miss what everyone loves or hates in trailers, I totally agree!

If you want another option to consider… I’m looking at one with a front ramp to walk off forward.

I never had a concern with no butt bar when there are full back doors with the top-to-bottom pole and cam-latch on the outside.

I require full back doors whether it is a step up or a ramp. The ramp can go over the doors (look at Equispirit.)

With full back doors and a 2-horse straight load setup, you have the option of unloading either horse while the remaining one is fully secured in there.

With a slant you have to unload everybody else to get to the first horse.

Brands… Four Star, Hawk, Gore

The biggest issue with a 2 horse slant is most of them are made for smaller horses. 15.2 hands or so. You don’t have the luxury of having a 3rd stall to turn into a oversized stall, and in my opinion, you might as well buy a straight load instead of a 3 horse slant in that case.

I really like my ramp. My horses got used to it right away but if the trailer came without one I’d be just as happy. Newer trailers are built taller to accommodate newer trucks, so a ramp might be more important there.

I don’t like full back doors unless they have big windows. I remove my top doors/curtains in the summer for airflow. I wouldn’t do this of course if the horse wasn’t tied.

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My next slant load will have a ramp. I have a step up now and have had issues in the past with a post-surgical horse not being able to get on.
I’ll stick with the slant load though. My big guy (1700# 18hh) will fit in my first stall without the manger and fits in the last stall with the manger. He has plenty of room in both, but it could be because it’s a 3h slant. He regularly travels in the last stall behind the tires. He doesn’t lean so noticeably in the slant load compared to a straight load - and yes I can feed him leaning! Most of the horses I’ve hauled in my slant were eager to get on and traveled well. It has the 70:30 door so the loading door is nice and wide.
With respect to ramps and trailers being taller, you have to make sure the ramp is long enough or the pitch will be too steep. If you get a trailer with the full length doors and then the ramp, it should be ok.
I like the 4stars and Merhows. I’ve hauled both but we own a Merhow. I’ll get another Merhow when the time comes. Their hardware in the horse section is well made and has safety in mind. All of the dividers are rounded and easy to latch.

Second vote for Merhow. We have a 2 horse with full dressing room, BP, straight, with ramp. (Aluma Star X tall X wide). 17 H+ WB’s load with room to spare. Tows very easily, and is a friendly ride for the horses with good ventilation. I would repeat the purchase in a heartbeat.

Quality product that has stood up well. Only complaints after 6 years, we had one interior light that required replacing. To order, ship and pay import fees on a little LED bar was way over $100. So I replaced with a $10 light from the auto shop. It always bugs me that the interior lights don’t match in appearance. When the trailer was new, one of our previously easy loader types started to balk at loading. A ride in the trailer demonstrated alot of klinging and banging from butt bars. A roll of Vet Wrap, and everyone was happy.

I (and my troublesome loader) much prefer the step-up slant load. I did get the tall and wide though, so my 16.1hh TB has room to turn around easily enough. Everyone has a different opinion (as do our horses).

I also did not like that it didn’t come without a butt bar for the second stall. DH added a heavy duty butt chain and I’m happy enough with that. I’ve also heard of people adding padding pretty easily.

I hear this said a lot. What horse doesn’t put their heads down to go up a hill (ramp), too? I don’t get how it’s different for one versus the other.

This is an interesting conversation point.

The only horse(s) I have seen that have close to bonking their head getting on a trailer (ignoring people putting way too tall horse into a too small trailer situations) are those that are not willingly loading and that high head look would be happening no matter what trailer they were going onto.

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IME:
Odds are if they lift their head at the top of a ramp BONK!
Same lift from the level of a stepup, no bonk.

Ramp Math: they are that much nearer the roof at the top of a ramp.
Top of ramp is at least 1’ higher than the ground.

The top of my ramp is level with my trailer floor… I’m still cornfoosed.

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Every ramp I’ve had (3) the bottom of the ramp was lower than floor-level when down.
Top of the ramp is level with trailer floor, but the angle they walk up puts heads nearer the roof.
As I said: IME

IME it doesn’t matter at all, but I now understand the thought process behind it.

Bottom line is if a horse wants to whollop the ceiling they’re going to, unless it’s a semi. 7’6" high, 8’ high… step up or ramp, does not matter. They want to be ding dongs, they’re going to find the roof.

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When I bought my stock combo with a slant divider, I had a little bit of buyer’s remorse. I missed straight loads. I like that in most straight loads, you can access the horse’s heads (provided it doesn’t have mangers, which I wouldn’t want). This may not be substantiated, but I feel like it’s safer hauling multiple horses in a straight- harder to kick each other, the ability to unload either horse if there is an issue, etc.

But the longer I’ve had my slant, I would consider another. I really love the ease of going from divider to box stall- much easier than any straight load I had in the past. I think loading/unloading is easier and safer when you are alone without help (which I am 95% of the time). My biggest complaint is that it is too narrow for even normal sized horses, so I’d definitely not consider another slant unless it was MUCH wider than mine.

I don’t miss not having a ramp most of the time. But I will say, I hate having to back a horse out without a ramp- I alway turn them around. And I have one horse who then likes to jump out, which puts me into cardiac arrest if we are unloading on blacktop or anything slick.

I love my two horse, straight load Hawk gooseneck. I LOVE the ramp. It’s lightweight - I can lift it with one
hand - and its at a low angle. It has made it easy for even reluctant loaders to walk in.
They back out of the trailer with confidence too because there is always something under their feet.
I’ve had the trailer since 2006 with zero issues.

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I currently have a 2H straight load Hawk trailer with a ramp. Love it. The horses really like it too. It is light and bright inside and very cool (important where I live). It has escape doors on each side and the ramp is light and easy to handle.

Before that I had a 2H slant load Featherlite step up which I really, really disliked. I didn’t like the fact that you couldn’t access the horse in the front without unloading the horse in the back. It also had no escape door, which I really hated for safety reasons. I found my horse was unsure about stepping back out of the step up trailer, and sometimes tended to get his back legs very close to underneath the trailer when unloading, which is why I went to the ramp set up.

The Featherlite was also much hotter than the Hawk is. The Hawk trailer has front windows that open and a sliding window through the tack room wall, so air flows straight through the trailer. The Hawk also has a fiberglass roof, which keeps heat transfer down as well. This is a much more comfortable set up for traveling in my part of the country. This may not be as important depending on where you live.

Interesting, I’ve never heard that horses are less likely to hit their heads with a step-up. The only time I’ve actually seen a horse hit their head was backing out of a step-up trailer. I used to have a horse that did this pretty much every time he exited the trailer. As soon as he stepped off the trailer with his hind end, his head would pop up.

I honestly could go either way with ramp vs no ramp. Rescues and auction houses around here will not let you pick up a horse in a 2H straight load or anything with a ramp. It makes sense if you are loading unhandled horses as you can swing the door shut without getting in the way, whereas you need to be behind the trailer to lift the ramp. I think my ideal trailer would have a step-up from the back with a front ramp. That way you could load an unhandled horse/animal via chute but would still have the option to load with a ramp if a horse couldn’t use the step-up in an emergency.

As far as brands go, I love my Trail-et which are now Hawk trailers. Equi-Spirit are made in the same factory as well. Mine is a straightload and has butt bars. I think all their trailers come with butt bars, but if you are ordering new that’s something that’s really easy to specify. The dividers are nice and padded as well. I really like the way the butt bars latch as well. I just tried to find a photo and wasn’t successful, but you can see how they work here, starting around the 1:10 mark:

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Ditto. Does anyone know off-hand if any companies offer something like this? I won’t be in the market again for a while, but I’d love to find something like this in the future.

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