How do I get it there?
How do I get it all to a show, is the really big question that everyone asks. Now most people who own a horse also own a trailer, but when one gets into driving their horse it can become a logistics nightmare on getting all of your equipment, the horse, the carriage and the people to an event.
If you are like most newbie’s to the carriage driving family, you will try to achieve this with what you have on hand. I know that over forty years ago that is what I did, so I will give you a brief history of my progression through the years.
In the beginning, I had a two horse straight load trailer that I loaded my horse into and that I pulled with my truck. Then I purchased a 16′ flat bed trailer with a folding ramp on the back, which we pushed the cart up onto that we towed with our car that we had at the time. This worked well at the time if we were doing just local shows and events, but for anything very far away it was cost prohibited.
When I decided that I wanted to start doing events farther away from home, I traded in the two horse trailer for a four horse slant with a tack room. We pulled this trailer with our motor home that we had at the time which gave us a place to stay, as trying to stay at motels that were never anywhere close to most venues was a logistics nightmare. This worked quite well for a number of years while I was competing with my Arabian and my pair of Miniature horses, as their carriages were smaller and lighter weight. I made ramps to run the carriages up into the trailer and there was an escape door so in an emergency you could get your horse out of the trailer, as you had to put the horse in first.
After being blown across the highway several times into oncoming traffic, I finally decided I needed to do something different if I wanted to keep competing, and be safe getting there. At this point, I purchased a used Sundowner trailer, four horse slant, with living quarters. This turned out to be my best choice to this point for getting everything I needed to a show with driving only one vehicle and not having to stay at a hotel away from the show grounds.
This whole process over the years showed me all of the things that I liked about the different trailers and their layouts and those items I did not like at all. So, I started a list of the does and don’ts for the ultimate trailer that I would eventually purchase.
What Not To Do:
- Never put carriage on top of horse trailer, aside from being very difficult to get up there, low bridges can be hazardous, “oops”.
- Never put your horse in first if there is no escape door.
- Always have a pass through door from living quarters or tack room to horse area, especially if horse goes in first.
- Never get a trailer heavier than your truck can safely pull when loaded.
- Never unload horse at a rest stop on any road or freeway, even if the sign says you can. Trucks run faster than horses!
- Never put anything on top of trailer that you need to get to in a hurry, especially if you are stopped on the edge of a highway, such as a spare tire or extra water for horses.
- Never put anything on top of your trailer if you are the least bit afraid of heights.
- Oven for baking, I don’t think so!
- Never put you carriage in the back of your truck, as it will pick up every piece of road dirt between your house and the show venue, and every bug that is in it’s path will be smashed onto it and it will look much like your windshield.
What To Do:
- Ramps to get carriages into trailer.
- Winch to pull carriages, especially four wheeled, up ramps.
- Tie downs in floor of trailer for securing carriages.
- Maximum trailer width of eight (8) feet, makes for easier fit of carriages. They will actually fit across the trailer thereby taking up less room.
- Gate between carriage and tack area and the horse area, that way the horses are safe and the equipment is not eaten.
- At least two stalls that can be made into one pen in case your stuck overnight, your horse can have a place to lay down and rest.
- Insulation in the walls and ceiling. Unless you live in the perfect world, you will either have excessive heat or cold somewhere you will be showing. Your horse will thank you!
- Outside water faucet on your trailer that you can fill your horse water bucket, this will save you countless steps.
- Plenty of windows and overhead vents for proper air circulation, your horse will also thank you for this!
- Plenty of inside and outside lighting because you will always either arrive late or leave early. It also makes that early morning feeding a lot easier.
About now, you are thinking that you will have to spend your retirement account to be able to find a trailer to fit all of these needs. You need to figure out which of the items are the most important to you and which will fit the horse and carriages that you have. If you drive a pony that is 14 hands or under in a two wheeled cart and you like staying in a motel, than a three horse slant will probably do you just fine. If your plan is to stay in training and preliminary divisions in combined driving, or in local fun and training arena driving shows, then smaller trailers that will hold your single horse and your cart, will work just fine.
Building My Trailer!
In my situation, I was working for a slot on the US Singles Driving Team, so I needed a trailer that would fit two carriages, my horse and all the tack for both carriages, along with living space for myself and my husband who is my navigator. The trailer also needed to be able to make it back and forth across the country several times so I could compete at the required events.
Keeping this in mind, I had my trailer custom made by the Silverado Trailer Company. The trailer specifications were as follows:
- Total size 8′ x 34′ on the floor with 7′ gooseneck
- 11′ living space
- 12′ carriage space with electric wench
- 11′ horse space which makes, 2 single stalls or one 8 x 11 stall
- 66′ side ramp for carriages
- 7′ 6″ tall
- Total trailer insulated
- Carriage tie downs for two carriages
- Extra windows and vents
As you can see, the living quarters is the least amount of space because for the most of the time at a horse event you are outside. The mandatory items needed are a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. Some sort of sleeping arrangement and some way to prepare food. I chose to have a small refrigerator, a two burner stove top and a microwave, and I refused the oven, because I never saw myself baking at all in the trailer.