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Horse Trailer Materials: The Pros & Cons of Popular Options

Last updated: July 6, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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As a horse owner, I know firsthand how vital it is to have a reliable and safe horse trailer for transporting my equine friends. I remember the day I finally bought my first aluminum horse trailer, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. It’s served me well through countless trips, and the peace of mind it provides is invaluable.

When choosing a horse trailer, the material it’s constructed with plays a significant role in ensuring the safety and comfort of our horses. With so many options available, it can be quite challenging to decide which material is best suited for your needs. I’ve been there, and I want to share my experience to help you make an informed decision.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of different horse trailer materials, including steel, aluminum, galvanized steel, and fiberglass/composite options. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each, you’ll be better equipped to choose the perfect trailer for you and your horses. Let’s dive in!

Aluminum Horse Trailers

Aluminum horse trailers have gained popularity among equestrians for several reasons. One of their most significant advantages is their lighter weight, which can improve fuel efficiency and place less strain on your towing vehicle. Additionally, aluminum’s natural resistance to rust and corrosion contributes to its lower long-term maintenance costs, making it an attractive option for many horse owners.

However, it’s important to be aware of the drawbacks associated with aluminum trailers. First, they come with a higher initial cost compared to steel trailers, which may be a concern for those on a tight budget. Secondly, although aluminum is strong, it may not offer the same overall strength as steel, particularly when subjected to heavy loads or rough conditions.

Lastly, if any damage occurs, repairs can be both challenging and costly due to the specialized equipment and expertise required for aluminum welding. Despite these cons, aluminum horse trailers remain a popular choice for many equestrians who prioritize weight savings, rust resistance, and lower long-term maintenance costs. Just be prepared to invest a bit more upfront and be aware of potential repair challenges down the road.

Picture of an aluminum gooseneck horse trailer we use to haul our horses to the track.
Aluminum gooseneck horse trailer.

Aluminum horse trailers are best suited for:

Aluminum horse trailers are well-suited for a variety of types and styles, but one example where they excel is gooseneck trailers. Gooseneck trailers, which hitch to the bed of a pickup truck, often have larger capacities and can accommodate more horses or larger living quarters.

The lighter weight of aluminum helps offset the additional weight from these larger designs, improving fuel efficiency and reducing strain on the towing vehicle. Additionally, aluminum’s rust and corrosion resistance is beneficial for the long-term durability and maintenance of the trailer. These characteristics make aluminum an attractive choice for gooseneck horse trailers that require both space and maneuverability.

Steel Horse Trailers

Steel horse trailers have long been a popular choice among equestrians, and it’s easy to see why. They’re known for their durability and strength, ensuring a safe and secure environment for our horses during transportation.

As a more budget-friendly option, their lower initial cost is definitely appealing, and in case any damage occurs, repairs are generally easier to carry out. However, it’s essential to be aware of the drawbacks of steel trailers as well.

The primary concern is their susceptibility to rust and corrosion, which can compromise the trailer’s integrity over time. Additionally, the heavier weight of steel horse trailers will impact fuel efficiency and put extra strain on your towing vehicle. Lastly, the higher long-term maintenance costs should be considered, as you might need to invest in rust prevention and repairs more frequently.

picture of a bumper pull horse trailer.
Steel bumper pull horse trailer.

Steel Trailer Material is Best For:

  1. Two-Horse Bumper Pull Trailers: Steel is an ideal choice for those seeking an entry-level two-horse bumper pull trailer. These trailers are less expensive than their aluminum counterparts, making them more accessible for beginners or those on a budget. Since they’re designed to accommodate only two horses, you won’t need a large truck to tow them, making them suitable for horse owners with smaller towing vehicles. The easy hitching and unhitching process of bumper pull trailers also adds to their appeal for first-time buyers.

In conclusion, steel horse trailers can be an excellent choice for many horse owners, thanks to their strength, durability, and affordability. For those in dry climates or with specific towing requirements, steel trailers like the two-horse bumper pull may be the perfect fit. Just remember to maintain them properly to ensure a long and reliable service life.

Fiberglass and Composite Horse Trailers

Fiberglass and composite horse trailers have emerged as another option for equestrians seeking lightweight and durable alternatives to traditional metal trailers. Common composite horse trailer designs combine various materials to leverage their respective strengths and advantages.

For example, a composite trailer might feature an outer shell made of fiberglass, which is lightweight, durable, and resistant to rust and corrosion. The trim could be constructed from aluminum, providing a sleek appearance and additional corrosion resistance. Finally, the frame might be made of steel, ensuring strength and stability for the trailer’s overall structure.

This combination of materials allows composite horse trailers to offer a blend of benefits from each material type. The fiberglass outer shell reduces weight and improves weather resistance, while the aluminum trim adds visual appeal and further protection from the elements. The steel frame contributes the necessary strength and durability to safely transport horses and withstand the rigors of travel.

By incorporating different materials into their construction, composite horse trailers provide an attractive option for equestrians who seek a balanced mix of lightweight design, durability, and aesthetic appeal. However, there are some downsides to consider with fiberglass and composite trailers.

The most notable drawback is their expensive initial cost, which may be prohibitive for some buyers. When it comes to repairs, options can be limited, as fixing fiberglass and composite materials often requires specialized knowledge and tools. Furthermore, these trailers may have a potentially weaker structure compared to their metal counterparts, particularly when exposed to extreme conditions or heavy loads.

Despite these disadvantages, fiberglass and composite horse trailers remain a viable choice for those who prioritize lightweight design, rust resistance, and a unique aesthetic. Just be prepared to invest more upfront and consider the potential limitations when it comes to repairs and structural strength.

Update: 3D-printed trailers. While it may seem like a concept straight out of a science fiction novel, it is, in fact, an exciting reality in today’s world. Double D Trailers, a renowned horse trailer manufacturer based in North Carolina, has partnered with ONE/ONE Lab and Loci Robotics to create the world’s first 3D-printed horse trailer.

This innovative design incorporates durable, lightweight materials such as polycarbonate and carbon fiber. By employing sustainable composites and an eco-friendly construction process, the result is a state-of-the-art trailer featuring cutting-edge design, enhanced safety features, and quicker production times.

Picture of an aluminum two horse bumper pull horse trailer.
Composite two-horse bumper pull horse trailer.

Composite horse trailers are best suited for:

If budget is not a constraint, composite materials can indeed be an excellent choice for any type of horse trailer, not just limited to smaller bumper pull trailers. The unique combination of materials in a composite trailer provides a well-balanced mix of lightweight design, durability, and aesthetic appeal, making them suitable for a wide range of trailer styles and sizes, including large gooseneck horse trailers with living quarters.

Composite materials offer numerous benefits, such as resistance to rust and corrosion, customization options, and the ability to incorporate the best features of various materials like steel, aluminum, and fiberglass. These advantages make composite horse trailers an attractive option for equestrians seeking a high-quality, long-lasting, and visually appealing trailer, regardless of size or style.

MaterialProsCons
Steel– Durability and strength– Susceptible to rust and corrosion
– Lower initial cost– Heavier weight
– Easier to repair– Higher long-term maintenance costs
Aluminum– Lighter weight– Higher initial cost
– Resistance to rust and corrosion– Less overall strength compared to steel
– Lower long-term maintenance costs– Difficult and costly to repair
Composite– Combines benefits of different materials– Expensive initial cost
– Lightweight and durable– Limited repair options
– Resistant to rust and corrosion– Potentially weaker structure
– Aesthetic appeal and customization options

Here is an informative YouTube video about horse trailer materials from Double D trailers.

YouTube video

Materials Used for Horse Trailer Floors

Different horse trailer flooring materials offer various advantages and disadvantages in terms of durability, maintenance, and comfort for your horses. Here’s a look at some popular horse trailer flooring options and their respective pros and cons:

  1. Wood Flooring:
    • Affordable and easy to replace
    • Provides a non-slip surface for horses
    • Absorbs shock, reducing stress on horses’ joints
    Cons:
    • Susceptible to rot, especially if not well-maintained
    • Requires regular inspection and maintenance
    • Heavier than some alternative materials
  2. Aluminum Flooring:
    • Lightweight and durable
    • Resistant to rot and corrosion
    • Low-maintenance
    Cons:
    • It can become slippery when wet, posing a risk to horses
    • Transmits heat and cold, potentially affecting horse comfort
    • May require additional support for heavier loads
  3. Rubber Mat Flooring:
    • Provides excellent traction and cushioning for horses
    • Easy to clean and maintain
    • It can be used on top of other flooring materials for added comfort
    Cons:
    • May retain moisture, leading to potential rot or corrosion issues
    • It can be heavy, adding to the trailer’s overall weight
    • May require periodic replacement due to wear
  4. Rumber Flooring:
    • Made from recycled rubber and plastic, making it an eco-friendly option
    • Provides excellent traction and cushioning for horses
    • Resistant to rot and corrosion, with low maintenance requirements
    Cons:
    • More expensive than some other flooring options
    • It can be heavy, adding to the trailer’s overall weight
    • Limited availability compared to other materials
  5. WERM (Waste and Erosion Resistant Material) Flooring:
    • Seamless, slip-resistant surface
    • Easy to clean and maintain
    • Durable and long-lasting
    Cons:
    • Expensive initial investment
    • Requires professional installation
    • It may not be suitable for all trailer types.

When choosing the right flooring material for your horse trailer, it’s important to consider factors such as durability, maintenance requirements, horse comfort, and cost. Each material has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, so carefully evaluate your specific needs and preferences before making a decision.

Picture of a truck pulling a gooseneck horse trailer. Various horse trailer materials are used to construct this model.
Gooseneck horse trailer

Conclusion: Horse Trailer Materials

Selecting the right horse trailer material depends on various factors such as budget, towing capacity, maintenance preferences, and personal style. Steel, aluminum, and composite materials each have their own set of advantages and drawbacks, making it essential to carefully consider your specific needs and requirements before making a decision.

Additionally, don’t forget to explore the different flooring materials available to ensure the safety and comfort of your horses during transportation. By taking the time to research and weigh the pros and cons of each material, you can make an informed decision and invest in a horse trailer that best suits your unique circumstances, ensuring a safe and comfortable journey for both you and your horses.

Picture of a lightweight aluminum bumper pull horse trailer.
Lightweight aluminum bumper pull horse trailer.

FAQs

What is the best wood for horse trailer walls?

The best wood for horse trailer walls is typically hardwood plywood, with varieties such as marine-grade or exterior-grade plywood being popular choices. These types of plywood are known for their durability, strength, and resistance to moisture. I recommend covering them with a rubber mat.

What is the strongest wood for a horse trailer floor?

The strongest wood for horse trailer floors is typically hardwoods like oak, particularly white oak or red oak. Oak is known for its durability, strength, and resistance to wear, making it an excellent choice for trailer flooring.