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Horse Trailers: Gooseneck or Bumper Pull Which Is Best for You?

Last updated: April 4, 2024

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

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For many horse owners, a horse trailer is as essential as a saddle. However, selecting the perfect one can be a daunting task. Modern horse trailers come with a wide array of options, but the foremost consideration lies in the hitch type: gooseneck or bumper pull.

The ideal horse trailer towing style hinges on your specific needs and preferences. Bumper pull trailers are lighter, more affordable, and cost-effective to tow. On the other hand, gooseneck trailers provide superior weight capacity, enhanced stability, and additional space for living quarters, tack, and horses.

There are numerous factors to contemplate when browsing horse trailers, such as construction materials, flooring, slant load, and straight load. Yet, the initial decision to make is whether to opt for a gooseneck or bumper pull trailer. Which one is the best fit for you?

Gooseneck trailers

Picture of a 5 horse gooseneck trailer.
Gooseneck horse trailer with living quarters.

Gooseneck horse trailers are a popular choice among horse owners due to their unique design and functionality. These trailers feature a hitch connection that extends over the bed of the towing vehicle, which is usually a pickup truck with a special hitch receiver mounted in the truck bed. This design allows the trailer’s weight to be distributed over the rear axle of the towing vehicle, providing better stability and control.

Pros

  1. Greater stability and maneuverability: Gooseneck horse trailers offer improved stability and handling, especially at higher speeds and during tight turns. The centralized weight distribution and the gooseneck design make it easier to navigate through winding roads and maneuver in confined spaces.
  2. Higher weight capacity: Due to the enhanced weight distribution, gooseneck trailers can accommodate more horses and additional cargo compared to bumper pull trailers. This makes them ideal for transporting multiple horses or for those who require extra hauling capacity.
  3. Additional storage and living space options: Gooseneck trailers often have extra storage and living space above the gooseneck section. This area can be customized as living quarters for overnight stays or as additional storage for tack and equipment, providing added convenience during long trips.

Cons

  1. Requires a specific type of truck for towing: Gooseneck trailers necessitate a compatible towing vehicle, typically a pickup truck with a hitch receiver mounted in the truck bed. This requirement may limit your options when selecting a towing vehicle and could lead to additional costs if you need to upgrade your truck.
  2. More expensive to purchase and maintain: Due to their size, construction, and added features, gooseneck trailers are more expensive upfront than bumper pull trailers. Furthermore, maintenance costs can be higher, as the gooseneck hitch and additional components may require more frequent servicing or repairs.
  3. Increased overall length: Gooseneck trailers are generally longer than bumper pull trailers, making parking and navigating tight spaces more challenging. You may also need a CDL to pull one. It’s crucial to consider the dimensions of your parking and storage areas before purchasing a gooseneck trailer to ensure it fits comfortably within your available space.
picture of a bumper pull horse trailer.
Two-horse bumper pull horse trailer.

Bumper Pull Horse Trailers

Bumper-pull horse trailers, also known as tag-along trailers, are a common choice for horse owners because of their simplicity and ease of use. These trailers connect to the towing vehicle through a hitch mounted on the rear bumper or tow frame of the vehicle. Bumper pull trailers are characterized by their straightforward design and are typically smaller and lighter than gooseneck trailers.

Pros

  1. Compatible with a wider range of towing vehicles: Bumper pull horse trailers can be hitched to various vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans, as long as they have a suitable towing capacity and an appropriate hitch installed. This compatibility makes them more versatile and accessible to more horse owners.
  2. Generally more affordable: Due to their simpler design and smaller size, bumper pull trailers are usually less expensive than gooseneck trailers. Additionally, maintenance costs may be lower as fewer components need regular servicing or repairs.
  3. Easier to park and navigate in tight spaces: Bumper pull trailers are often more compact and easier to handle in tight spaces, making them a suitable choice for those with limited parking or storage areas. Their smaller size allows for better visibility while navigating busy roads or crowded parking lots.

Cons

  1. Lower weight capacity: Bumper pull trailers typically have a lower weight capacity than gooseneck trailers due to their hitch design and smaller size. This limitation means they may not be suitable for those who need to transport multiple horses or a significant amount of additional cargo.
  2. Less stability at higher speeds: Bumper pull trailers may experience reduced stability at higher speeds or during sudden lane changes, as their weight distribution is not as centralized as that of gooseneck trailers. This factor makes it crucial for drivers to be cautious and mindful of their speed while towing a bumper pull trailer.
  3. Limited storage and living space options: Bumper pull trailers generally offer less storage and living space compared to gooseneck trailers. This limitation may require horse owners to invest in external storage solutions or find alternative accommodations during overnight trips.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Horse Trailer

Selecting the ideal horse trailer involves carefully considering various factors to ensure you and your horses have a comfortable and safe traveling experience. Balancing the practical aspects of trailer ownership with your personal preferences is essential in making the right choice.

In this section, we will explore the key factors you should consider when choosing a horse trailer, ranging from compatibility with towing vehicle to storage requirements and personal comfort. By evaluating these factors, you can make a well-informed decision that best meets your unique needs as a horse owner.

Picture of a gooseneck horse trailer.
Gooseneck horse trailer

Towing Vehicle Compatibility

The first question to answer when choosing a horse trailer is what kind of vehicle you will use for towing. A gooseneck hitch is not an option if you don’t have a truck, but even with a truck, there are still factors to consider.

For example, are you willing to dedicate most of the truck bed to the hitch? If not, it might be time to consider a bumper pull. The specific truck model is also crucial. Something like an F150 will likely work reasonably well for a small, two-stall horse trailer.

Short bed models are an option, but a longer bed offers more flexibility and additional space for other items in the truck bed. If you opt for a larger trailer carrying substantial weight, you must ensure your tow vehicle’s pulling capacity is up to the task.

Gooseneck trailers tend to be heavier, so you’ll likely need a dually for larger trailers. If you plan to use a two-horse bumper-pull horse trailer, you may find helpful information in this article: Towing A Two-Horse Bumper Pull Trailer: All You Need To Know.

Before purchasing a horse trailer, ensure your existing vehicle can tow the chosen trailer type. Check your vehicle’s towing capacity and make sure it has the appropriate hitch installed for either a gooseneck or bumper pull trailer.

I wrote an article on weight-distributing hitches you may find helpful: Best Weight Distributing Hitches for Horse Trailers. In the piece, I cover what to look for when choosing a weight-distributing hitch and give my recommendations.

Picture of an aluminum bumper pull horse trailer.
Lightweight aluminum bumper pull horse trailer.

Budget and Long-term Cost

When selecting a horse trailer, evaluating both the initial investment and the long-term costs associated with ownership is essential. The type of trailer you choose will significantly impact your budget, as bumper pull trailers are generally more affordable upfront than gooseneck trailers. However, it’s crucial not to overlook the long-term expenses of owning and maintaining a horse trailer.

Maintenance and repairs are inevitable aspects of owning a horse trailer. While bumper pull trailers may have lower maintenance costs due to their simpler design, it’s essential to account for potential repairs or replacements over time. Additionally, consider the impact of fuel consumption, as larger and heavier trailers, such as gooseneck models, may increase fuel expenses during travel.

Insurance and registration costs should also be factored into your budget. Depending on the size and value of your trailer, insurance premiums, and registration fees may vary. It’s advisable to consult with your insurance provider to get an accurate estimate of these costs for the specific trailer you’re considering.

Finally, consider any additional investments you may need, such as upgrading your towing vehicle to accommodate a larger or heavier trailer or purchasing extra equipment and accessories to enhance your horse’s comfort and safety during travel.

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

Number of Horses and Weight Capacity

One of the most critical factors to consider when choosing a horse trailer is the number of horses you need to transport and the overall weight capacity required. The trailer must provide adequate space and support for your horses and any additional equipment or cargo you plan to carry.

Start by determining the number of horses you typically transport and consider any potential growth in your horse family. While a two-horse trailer may be sufficient for some, others may require larger capacities to accommodate multiple horses. Remember that the more horses you need to transport, the larger and heavier the trailer will be, which may impact your choice between a gooseneck and a bumper pull trailer.

Next, calculate the combined weight of your horses and any additional cargo, such as tack, feed, and equipment. Ensure the chosen trailer can safely handle the total weight without exceeding its maximum capacity. Overloading a trailer can lead to dangerous situations on the road and potential damage to the trailer and towing vehicle.

When evaluating horse trailers, consider the individual stall size and the amount of headroom and legroom provided. Ensure that your horses have enough space to travel comfortably and safely. A properly sized trailer reduces stress on your horses during travel and minimizes the risk of injury.

Below is a YouTube video that provides some helpful tips about horse trailers.

Intended Use and Travel Frequency

The intended use and frequency of travel play a significant role in determining the most suitable horse trailer for your needs. By assessing how often you plan to use the trailer and for what purposes, you can make a more informed decision that aligns with your specific requirements.

If you frequently participate in horse shows, competitions, or events that involve traveling long distances, a gooseneck trailer might be the better choice. These trailers offer increased stability and handling, making them more suitable for extended journeys. Additionally, gooseneck trailers often provide extra storage and living space, which can be beneficial during overnight stays or multi-day events.

On the other hand, if you primarily use your horse trailer for occasional, short-distance trips, such as local trail rides or visits to the veterinarian, a bumper pull trailer may be more appropriate. These trailers are generally lighter, more affordable, and easier to maneuver in tight spaces, making them a practical option for infrequent or short-duration travels.

It’s also essential to consider your horses’ specific needs during travel. Some horses may require additional accommodations, such as padded dividers, extra ventilation, or specialized flooring, to ensure their comfort and safety. Take the time to understand your horses’ unique requirements and factor them into your decision-making process.

By evaluating your intended use and travel frequency, you can select a horse trailer that meets both your practical needs and the comfort requirements of your equine companions, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable traveling experience for all.

Storage and Living Space Requirements

Assessing your storage and living space requirements is crucial when choosing the best horse trailer for your needs. The space you need for your horses, tack, equipment, and personal belongings will vary based on your circumstances and travel habits.

Gooseneck trailers generally offer more storage and living space options than bumper pull trailers. Their design allows for additional storage compartments and, in some cases, living quarters above the hitch area.

This extra space can benefit those who frequently travel to multi-day events, horse shows, or competitions, as it provides a comfortable space to rest and store essential items. If you require ample storage for tack and equipment, consider trailers with built-in tack rooms or storage compartments.

These features help keep your gear organized, secure, and easily accessible during travel. Be sure to evaluate the size and layout of these storage areas to ensure they meet your specific needs.

On the other hand, if your travel plans involve shorter distances or less frequent trips, a bumper pull trailer may suffice. While these trailers typically offer less storage and living space, they are generally more affordable and easier to handle in tight spaces.

Depending on your needs, you might find that the simpler design of a bumper pull trailer is sufficient for your storage requirements. In addition to trailer size and design, consider any external storage solutions or portable living accommodations you may need during your travels.

By carefully evaluating your storage and living space requirements, you can choose a horse trailer that provides the right balance of practicality, comfort, and convenience for you and your horses.

gooseneck,

Personal Preferences and Comfort

When choosing a horse trailer, it’s essential to consider your personal preferences and comfort, as well as the well-being of your horses. The ideal trailer should provide a safe and comfortable environment for your equine companions while meeting your specific needs and preferences as a horse owner.

Some individuals may prioritize the enhanced stability and handling offered by gooseneck trailers, especially for long-distance journeys or challenging driving conditions. The additional space and storage options in gooseneck trailers can also provide added convenience and comfort during extended trips.

Conversely, others may prefer the simplicity and versatility of bumper pull trailers. These trailers are generally more affordable and compatible with a wider range of towing vehicles, making them an attractive option for those with budget constraints or less frequent travel needs. The ease of maneuvering and parking bumper pull trailers may also appeal to those who navigate tight spaces or urban environments.

Think about the features and amenities that are most important to you and your horses. These may include stall size and layout, ventilation, flooring materials, or accessibility of tack storage. Make a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves to help guide your decision-making process.

It’s also helpful to seek input from other horse owners or industry professionals who have experience with different types of trailers. They may be able to offer valuable insights and recommendations based on their firsthand experiences.

Ultimately, the best choice for a horse trailer will depend on your unique needs, priorities, and personal preferences. By carefully weighing all factors, including comfort and convenience, you can select a trailer that provides an enjoyable and safe traveling experience for you and your horses.

Having a hitch in the truck’s bed makes it much more maneuverable, so you can take sharp turns that you couldn’t make with a bumper pull trailer.

FAQs

How tall is a horse trailer?

Horse trailers generally range in height from 7 to 9 feet. A standard horse trailer typically measures 7 to 7.5 feet tall, which is suitable for most average-sized horses. For larger horse breeds, you may need a trailer with a height of 8 to 9 feet to ensure adequate headroom and comfort during travel.

What size are horse trailer tires?

Common tire sizes for horse trailers include 205/75R14, 205/75R15, 225/75R15, and 235/80R16. To determine the appropriate tire size for your specific horse trailer, consult the manufacturer’s recommendations or the information placard on the trailer.

Resources

Picture of a gooseneck horse trailer.
Gooseneck horse trailer