Horse Hauling Myth-busting Help!

Hey team,
I’m having some confusion that I’m hoping people with real world experience can help me understand. We have always heard that if you are hauling horses, you should have a 3/4 ton or better. However the new 1/2 ton trucks have really good payload and hauling capacity so I’m not sure if that rule applies anymore? Here is my situation:
I have a 2 horse all aluminum 4 Star goosneck trailer- it weights 3600lbs empty. With 2 horses and tack, it will weigh 7000lb at the most (we have warmbloods). Total payload based on passengers, cargo and a 15% tongue weight of the gooseneck loaded would never exceed 1600lb. If the tongue weight increased to 20%, it would be 1800lb MAX payload needed. I don’t haul anything else.

I can see the new Ram 1500s equipped how I’d like it can haul close to 11,000lbs with a payload close to 2000lb. I also am looking at a Titan XD as it is very close to the equivalent of a 2500 and has more than ample payload and hauling. The toyota tundra can do 11,000lb hauling and 1653lb payload equipped how I’d like.

Can someone explain why the 1500 is not as good a choice as something more? Importantly, we live in BC, Canada in the mountains so it needs to handle decent grades. We do short hauls up to around 4-5 hours at most usually.

If people have recommendations of what would be suitable, I’d love to hear them. Budget around $50K CAD, or $37K USD. Want crew cab. I would rather gas.


The Equispirit trailer web site has some good articles about choosing the right tow vehicle and how to calculate weights. Look under the “Safety First” tab at

My experience is purely anecdotal, no math or actual weighing involved, so take it for what it’s worth. For years I pulled a 16 ft steel stock trailer and then a 2-horse steel frame/aluminum skin bumper pull trailer with a 2003 F-150. I never felt like I was overloaded.

I replaced that truck with a 2018 F-150 and I hated to haul with it. I always felt like the trailer was pushing the truck around (yes the trailer had its own brakes). I don’t know what the differences were in weight and construction between the two trucks but I feel like the 2018 wasn’t enough to haul those trailers. (Problem inadvertently solved now by large life changes that eliminate my need to haul anything and trailers have been sold.)


Get a 3/4 ton Dodge diesel truck, at least. With 4 wheel drive. You won’t regret it. Half ton truck is too light. I am similarly located. 2 wheel drive trucks don’t do winter around here, especially if pulling a trailer.


It’s not pulling the trailer, it’s stopping the trailer if brakes go out or in an emergency.

Many 1500’s just don’t have the stopping power especially in a hilly or mountainous area.


brakes are normally heftier on the 3/4 compared to a 1/2 ton also the suspension is or was beefier on the 3/4 tons


These are all really helpful. I think when I read that the newer 3/4 and 1 tons now haul 20,000 lb+++ I tend to think it is overkill for our situation, but when you explain the braking and suspension piece that isn’t really marketed the same way towing capacity is, I do get it! Thank you!!!


I had an older Ram 1500 that the engine died and now a second hand Ford F250 with tow package (gas). I haul in the BC mountains, I have a two horse bumper pull aluminum and steel straight haul Trail-et. I would not want any less power than the F250 for the Coquihalla Pass and I still wouldn’t haul on that road in winter!

If I upgraded to a gooseneck with living quarters or wanted to put an RV topper on the truck, I think I would need an F350.

I’ve watched other people try to haul in newer better F150s and they still think its sketchy in the mountains.


Like others said. It is not what it can pull. It is what it can stop. Especially, can it stop a live load that has decided to do the samba? That is to say, can you stop the trailer going downhill when the horse just got stung by a wasp and is now throwing half a ton of weight from side to side in the trailer? Or, more likely, can your truck control the weight when you hit a high wind warning on some highway somewhere?
All of that capacity is in the brakes and suspension. And sometimes, not always, in the ‘tow package’. Although the latter is no longer quite as clear cut as it used to be.
In my opinion, I like it when I don’t ‘know’ the trailer is behind me. If I know the trailer is behind me, that means I am already driving defensively., already trying to outdrive what the dead weight of the trailer is trying to do. I’m not talking about going up a steep hill, but about those curves where the trailer is pushing the rear end of the truck out… Yes, 90% of the time that is not a problem. The other 10% is the stuff of nightmares.


I tow nothing bigger than a 2 horse bumper pull with my Nissan Frontier truck - husband knows the specs but I don’t! I don’t tow outside a 1 hour radius though and only a handful of times a year at most, and it’s almost all flat where we are (in BC too but in the Lower Mainland); I would never feel safe towing a horse through our mountains with my set up! I also don’t take more than 1 horse at a time unless it’s a very short trip.

We know the risks and make sure that our vehicle, trailer and brake controller are all up to date.

If I lived in another area or did more towing, I would for sure go with an upgraded vehicle to be safe.


Newer 1/2 ton pickups with towing packages should have no problems pulling and stopping your two horse gooseneck trailer, unless you go with one of the short beds. Then you might take out the truck rear window in really tight turns.

Years ago you really needed a 3/4 or 1 ton truck, but the smaller trucks have really advanced in capacity. I read in a car publication today that only 7 percent of 1/2 ton truck owners ever tow anything at all. They are largely being used like your father’s old 4 door family sedan. But properly equipped they certainly can tow a gooseneck.


As people mentioned it is about stopping power and also relative weight between truck and trailer. The relative weight matters because of that pesky physics equation F=MA (force equals mass times acceleration).

Mentioned above was a Nissan Frontier. The frontier has a mass of 2177 kg. My 2 horse bumper pull with one horse on would be about 2180 kg. If you have to suddenly stop on flat ground, your truck is going to have to be able to hold against that force coming from behind.

An F-150 has about 500 kg more mass than the Frontier and about 800 less than the 250.

In comparison, my 2022 F-250 has a mass of 3401 kg. With that much more mass, I have a lot better possibility of a controlled stop. The heavier trucks help the physics of the situation.


Two points in the OP stood out to me - hauls up to 4 - 5 hours, and mountains.

I got away with pulling a QH size 2 horse bumper pull with a F-150 with a real tow package for years, because I was hauling locally on flat ground. Fine for hauling to local trail rides, the state park, etc.

Then I upgraded to a nice warmblood size 2 horse. Then I got two very large horses. Still fine for local, flat hauls. Then I started hauling 2 1/2 into hilly terrain. Not fine.

I would go with the 3/4 ton.


With the mountains and the long hauls, I agree - go with the 3/4 ton.

I’d also get a diesel for the exhaust braking.


So… one of the big problems with these discussions, when people say “I have an xxx and it’s fine, or it’s not big enough, or….” is that these trucks, especially the 150 class, come in a WIDE range of specifications. YOUR 2017 F150 may have a very different tow capacity than MY 2017 F150 (which, for the record, can haul 11,000 lbs, has 4wd and is a lovely tow vehicle for my 2h bp. But I digress).

Several things beyond the “tow package” (which is just manufacturer speak for whatever extras they lump together and label “a package” - there is no consistency to that label) will impact a specific vehicle’s capacity. These include wheelbase - a longer wheelbase is more stable than a shorter wheelbase - rear axle ratio (higher produces more torque and better tow capacity, lower fuel economy), and weight of the vehicle as equipped.

If you look at the manufacturer’s towing guide for that year and make, or in the back of the manual, you will find several VERY different numbers for different configurations of a given 150 class truck.

I do not have experience hauling a gooseneck, or hauling in the mountains, so I am not going to tell you how towing under those conditions in a max capacity 150 compares to a 250. But you are right to focus on the numbers - just make sure you are looking at all the numbers, for the specific truck you are looking at. That Equispirit article mentioned up thread is a good place to start.


Here is a sample video for you.

This channel, The Fast Lane Truck (TFL Truck) does dozens of truck and towing videos each year. They are a pretty big operation, so they are able to acquire trucks for their evaluations directly from manufcturers. And they do most of their towing tests in Colorado, at higher altitudes, with steep grades, and snowy weather.

Search for tests they may have done with the trucks you are considering for your towing tasks.


If I can please interrupt, I have a question:
Friend with great hauling skills (can back anything, anywhere & maneuver in tight spaces like nobody’s business) has a 3/4 ton Chevy.
His current trailer is an XL aluminum GN stock: 8’h x 8’w, 35’ long.
He has 4 Belgians that will be hauled - sometimes all 4, sometimes 2 with 2 carts.
Horses are Big 18h+ each & weigh in over 2K.
Yesterday we hauled the empty trailer to a dealer to have partitions put in.
When he exceeded 50mph, the trailer made the truck bounce. Never felt out of control to me - as a passenger - but I can’t say what he felt steering.
My 2¢ says the empty trailer is doing something to unweight the truck’s rear end.
Maybe the GN is the cause?
I worry what this could mean when he has horses aboard.
Is this “just” a problem with the empty trailer?

I upgraded to a 1 ton dually from my 3/4 ton SRW with my gooseneck. The 3/4 ton was plenty powerful enough and had enough breaking power. However, the wear and tear on that truck was obvious. I blew through a set of pads in 30k miles, replaced the rear breaks at 45k miles. I was also close to maxing out on payload, so I couldn’t carry anything in the bed of the truck like additional hay or whatever. The gas mileage was horrible even with the diesel.
I really thought about upgrading the suspension on the 3/4, but the safety concern was still there with the payload and the wear and tear on the truck.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), we got rid of the 3/4 ton after the bed started rusting. We decided on upgrading to the 1 ton in the event that we wanted to haul the gooseneck across the country and through the mountains etc. The difference between the two trucks is noticeable especially in gas mileage. Now I don’t have worry about having 3 horses plus a bed full of hay when I haul. It’s a relief honestly knowing my truck is very well suited for its task!
So just because a truck is rated for doing what you want, doesn’t mean it’s the best and safest choice especially if you’re hitting close to the max capacities. The dealerships and trailer sales people will tell you yes all day just to make a sale.


Keep in mind too, that these hauling ratings are done on the flat and typically without “live” weight. What your transmission and brake system can handle on a long straight highway is very different than what they can handle on long mountainous interstates or even gradual terrain.

I blew the transmission in a Chevy 1500 hauling a pony and a horse in a Ponderosa trailer on Interstate 89 in Vermont, coming home from GMHA. We never came close to the max payload, and it was only a 2 hour drive. I permanently retired that truck from hauling anything but hay after I fixed it. It is really scary putting your foot to the brake pedal and feeling nothing, and wondering whether or not you will need to use those sand tracks you see on the side of the highways when going downhill.

My next truck was a F350 diesel. This thing will be with me until I die or it does, whoever goes first.


I think you’d have to also ride with the trailer loaded to make an assessment.

When hauling a long flatbed trailer, my truck hauls MUCH better with the trailer loaded. Unloaded, the trailer bounces and pushes the truck around.

That may be the case with your friend’s rig - it may need weight over the trailer’s axles to haul in a balanced fashion.


I too have a 3/4 ton GM. These trucks have fairly stiff suspensions, and at recommended rear tire pressure of 70 psi mine is pretty bouncy with no load. Folks who want a better ride when driving with just passengers or a light load in the bed often lower the tire pressures, as that is easy to do. I bet your friend’s truck with a loaded gooseneck resting on the truck’s rear suspension rides much better than it does with the tongue weight of the empty trailer. GM designed the 3/4 and heavier trucks as working trucks with heavy springs and shock absorbers to carry loads.