Safest trailer type/design for hauling alone?

Most of my hauling experience is in straight loads and so when I shopped for my first trailer last year, that’s what I bought. My young horse has since grown quite a bit–and thus outgrown the trailer–so I am shopping for something else.

I am debating switching to a slant load; due to her size, I’ve been hauling her in my straight with the divider pinned to the side and it is a bit easier to maneuver if I need to get in there with her. Sometimes having to bend down behind the horses to pick up the ramp is a bit unnerving. She sits on the butt bars/chain/ramp and I don’t love that when the ramp comes down, her back end is RIGHT there. When hauling with another horse, even with a head divider, she bothers the other horse–seems like with a slant load she wouldn’t be able to access the other horse as easily.

I’m unsure if some of these issues would simply be solved by a BIGGER trailer (which I know I need regardless) or if switching to a slant would be safer. I haul by myself 4-5 days per week and want to feel comfortable and as safe as possible.

This past weekend, I sent her home from a show in my boss’ 6 horse step-up slant because she was such a terror hauling up with a friend’s horse in my trailer and she appeared to ride perfectly fine in that setup.

Input appreciated! Thanks!

Slants are not for large horses, unless you buy a warmblood/draft one and/or haul loose.

“The negatives to slant loads are numerous. If a front horse has a problem, you can’t reach it without unloading the other horses (unless you have a front unload ramp). Tow vehicles are always moving forward even when they make turns. During all that stopping and starting, a horse needs to plant its front and back feet for balance, rather than standing on an angle where its constantly falling on its front forward leg, and rear hind leg. The stall length is rarely big enough unless your horses are very small. Most horses that are 16 hands plus will have their noses pushed up against the road side wall, and their butts squeezed against the ditch side wall. The size problem comes from the limitation of what the legal width of a trailer can be. It can go up to 8’6” but the wheel wells are then inside the trailer and are still restricting the horse’s space."

My straight load has (each) stall dimensions as follows:

Height 7’7"
Width 3’ (36")
Length 9’6" (114")

This fit a 17.2h WB who wore an 87" blanket with room to spare.


Thanks–I do know that standard sized slants are on the small side for larger (or longer, in my case) horses. I would be looking for something larger as you mentioned. I also only haul short trips–90% of my hauling is under 30 minutes. Anything longer than that and I go with a friend with a bigger/better trailer.

ETA: Current trailer is 7’6" tall, 6’ wide, 6’6" chest to butt. Horse is 16.2h and wears an 80/81" blanket.

You might want to look at a 2+1 trailer. It is a straight load with the ability to haul two horses in the rear in straight load stalls and one can ride in a box stall in the front. The appeal of this trailer if you travel alone, is that the horses can be loaded from the side ramp and backed into the straight load stall. You wouldn’t need to be squatting down to raise the rear ramp and you can safely load and unload while staying at the horse’s head.


Sadly I haul with an F150 so I think that would be too much trailer for the truck–but I have seen that design and agree it would be idea!

I agree with @Xanthoria re: how horses ride in a slant & that larger (taller than 16h and/or broad) horses just.don’

I have owned both straight & slant & far prefer straightload.
My 17’3 WB was a tight fit in my 2H slant, even with the divider tied back.

My current trailer is a stock - 7’6" h X 7’w, 16’ on the ground.
It is by far my favorite & I haul alone every time.

Another feature I prefer is a step-up.
Horses tend to lower their heads getting on, less chance of bonking their heads.
Even my 35" mini has no problem getting on.
I had ramps on all my previous trailers & even with hydraulic assist, the damn things weigh a ton.
Joint is a b-otch to keep clean too & if you don’t, ramp operation suffers.

I also haul with an F150 and like @2DogsFarm I also have a stock trailer. Mine is 7’ h x 6’w x 12’ l, and it’s quite comfortable for hauling 1-2 horses short distances. My horses travel facing backwards and exit head first. You can get a stock trailer customized to whatever dimensions you want.

I love my 2+1 for hauling solo. On and off the side ramp is so easy. But, it’s a beast. There is another thread active discussing 2 horse straight load with a side ramp. Not sure if you have enough truck with the F150 but you might spec it out. Finding one could be a challenge but finding any trailer right now is a challenge.

A slant is fine for a large horse especially if used as a box stall. Or you can buy a 3 horse trailer and use 2 stalls if you haul another horse.

I once had 2 dumbass geldings undress each other with a vigorous game of halter tag on a highway at speed and unfortunately boxed in going downhill. That was scary. Owner of that little trailer promptly put the solid head divider back in the trailer. So, I feel your pain over the bothering thing!

That said, with a big enough straight load and correctly adjusted trailer ties. They shouldn’t be able to bother each other to that extent.

Warmblood or draft straight load is your friend.

Next is teaching trailer manners. Before you ever load, a horse should understand that a light touch of a dressage or in hand whip means take a step forward. That translates to a very polite “get the hell off the butt bar you nitwit!”

And standing also needs to be taught. In the barn. In the arena. In the field. Everywhere so that “Stand!” Becomes a command for don’t you dare move a foot. It takes a lot of patience and 100% commitment to make it happen but it’s worth it.

I prefer ramps for unloading, but there is almost nothing wrong with step ups. I just don’t like horses having to step down backwards. I’ve seen a couple of close calls with slips and prefer to have a ramp. Keep the hinge spring clean and it should be easy to raise and lower.

I am pretty much sold on a steel framed steel trailer… our two horse slant was in an accident where a car ran a stop sign hitting the trailer T Bone in the side… car (a Jeep) was totaled.

My daughter had her horse in the trailer, he just look down at the wreckage under his window I could not even find a mark on the trailer

Police were amazed …destroyed car but nothing wrong with the trailer.

Ah yes - an 81” horse in a 78” space isn’t a thing. Been there done that! Just get a longer straight load

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I’d start by buying this book: Complete Guide to Horse Trailers by Neve Scheve. On Amazon new but can be purchased used.

And like other who have owned both slant and straight --bigger horses in my opinion are best in a straight load --our big event horses had trouble with muscle soreness after long hauls in a slant. While others espouse a stock trailer, I would not haul a horse in one as they lack padding and support for the horse to brace against during turns, acceleration, and stops. I know others will disagree. Having said that --I currently haul my 15 hh 1200 pound (most would call that horse small) horse in an oversized straight (he really kind of rattles around in there) —and a slant load for long distances because that’s the one with the LQ. He’s a better fit in the slant. But as I said, he’s a “small” horse.

Do buy the horse trailer book —lots and lots in there about styles, brakes, service, loading balance, etc.

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@Xanthoria Any suggestions on who makes a longer straight load? It seems the measurements can be a bit deceiving…my current trailer was sold as 7’ chest to butt, but when you measure from the inside of the chest bar padding to the inside of the butt bar, it’s more like 6’6" and obviously, as you said, that’s not working!

The problem with the ramp can be solved by having a ramp over full back doors. Equispirit does this and you can add a ramp to pretty much any trailer that already has doors.

And someone mentioned my other thread about a trailer with a side ramp in the front so they can walk out forward. That solves the unloading problem where you have to drop the butt bar but somehow have to keep ahold of them as they back out.

But you still have the loading problem where you can’t tie them until the butt bar is up, so how do you load then return to the back of the trailer to close the door? I’m currently using a lunge line but this is not without issues.

(Yes, I know, teach them to self load. Well… he’s three. We’re working on it but I can’t depend on it yet. Even so it has risks. He can bend in half, it’s not inconceivable that he steps in, sees something off to the side, reverses course, and takes off away from me without my being able to get ahold of the rope again.)

A 2+1 is probably in my future if I continue with young horses…


That’s what I do with my big boy. I have a three horse slant. I pulled the divider between slots one and two and he travels up front in that double slot. It gives him a lot of room and allows him to arrange his feet how he likes. (He’s not stuck on a such a steep angle).

If I had my preference, I’d have a WB size straight load with a swinging divider that was solid up front where the horse’s heads are and escape doors on each side.

As far as safety, the best thing that can be done to reduce danger is to brush up on your horse’s hauling / loading / unloading manners and teach horse to self load.

Teach them to self-load. It takes time and patience but is worth every minute spent.

Doesn’t matter if they’re 3 or 30, it’s a skill set that every horse should have. Bonus, it can be mostly taught outside the trailer. Moving forward straight, backing straight, standing like a (relaxed) statue can all be taught without a trailer. Those skills will then transfer fairly easily to self-loading with lots of positive reinforcement. It’s not rocket science, but it can be time consuming. All that consumed time pays you back a hundredfold every time you are able to load your horse confidently and safely.

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I simply use a longer lead rope (not crazy long).
I can easily reach the butt bar while still holding the lead rope that I have attached to the horse.
I can easily let go if that is required (emergency).

(I too am finding self loading a work in progress and we aren’t going to just do nothing until that trick is trained, so this is my work around during that process.)

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Something for everyone to think about - if the butt bar is what keeps your horse in the trailer, your horse is not trailer trained. I am NOT suggesting that anyone tie their horse and then go round and do up the butt bar! But, if your horse is that eager to get back out, you’ve missed a step in your training. The horse should stand there until asked to carefully back out.

I think we all know this!

Darn horses who sometimes do not do as they are trained to do or are just learning stuff.