Reverse Load Trailers? And last month’s Bucket Fund receipts.

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 | Filed under Handy Tips

Hello all!

Did you have a nice Holiday Weekend?!  I hope so…


The Horse and Man Group was wonderful in donating $567 to BHFER, our Bucket Fund equine charity for August!  The money came in several ways so I had a few different kinds of Pay Pal receipts.


We received two thank-you’s from BHFER.  The first is from Jenny who does some of their PR work and the second is from Theresa.  I wanted you all to share in their Thank-You’s since you donated the money!

1) From Jenny:

Words can not express how eternally grateful we are for your kindness in nominating the “Bucket Fund” of August to benefit Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue.

The lives of those who call us home , their present and their futures , depend not only Theresa and all her volunteers but in the loving hearts of so many…they depend on individuals like you who are willing to speak for them and help make a difference.

Beauty’s Haven is a family, family united by love and compassion. Thank you for being part of this beautiful family that I call my second home.

May you have a wonderful day;


2)  From Theresa

Thank you SO very much!  This was truly, truly a blessing!  I can’t tell you how much this helps – the vet and
feed bills increased dramatically after the Naples horses arrived.  We bought 2 needed tons of hay today – I can’t tell you how nice
(and comforting) it is to see the hay stall full of hay!  We’ve been buying it by the bale but it’s a better price by the ton.

Again, thanks so much!!!

Beauty’s Haven Farm & Equine Rescue, Inc.


You don’t hear much about reverse load trailers here in the US.  They are much more popular in the UK.  However, there are several trailer companies that do offer this feature.  If you Google “reverse load horse trailers”, several companies will come up.


Reverse load is where the horses either ride straight or slanted in the opposite direction of what we Americans usually see.  For example, if you have a straight load, the horses would ride with their faces towards the rear of the trailer instead of the front.  If you have a slant load, the same thing.


How they work?  The horse loads on a ramp at the side towards the front of the trailer.  Usually the ramp has three doors so the ramp itself isn’t too long or too heavy.  Then the horse is tied or slotted facing the rear of the trailer.  When it is time to let them out, (on a straight reverse load) you drop the butt bars which are now neck bars, and let them out the rear of the trailer which has double doors.  Or, on a slant reverse load, you have the option of taking them back out the ramp, or depending upon the configuration, bringing them straight out the back.  So, no backing your horses.


There are many thoughts here.

First, there have been a few studies where the general consensus was that horses, if left to their own devices, would ride facing backwards.  The studies showed that loose horses do this if given a chance on a long haul.  What most suspect is that the braking pattern is easier to handle when the rear end of the horse is taking all of the impact.  The rear leg and haunch muscles are more set up for stopping and carrying that stopping weight.  So, the horse naturally points his strong end in the direction of the motion.

Another study suggested that horses are less tired and less likely to become ill from stress when they ship in the reverse position.

Some studies suggested that the horses feel less stress if they are not facing oncoming traffic.

For some, the reverse load is much more safe because they can just walk the horse on and walk the horse off – no more turning around in cramped trailers.  And, no more fighting with horses who will not back out of a trailer or become nervous to back.


The people who don’t like the reverse load trailers say that horses ride however they have been trained to ride.   They also say that oncoming traffic doesn’t mean anything to a horse and that ramps are more dangerous than not having ramps.


For my two cents, first off, nothing is better than a good driver.  So, having said that, I am now saying all the rest assuming that we are speaking about good trailer drivers who anticipate the rough spots for their cargo.

I’m really thinking on this one…  Just because a type of trailer isn’t popular doesn’t automatically make it not good.  Especially since it is very popular in the UK.  And, I know for a fact, that my horses ALL will turn around in the trailer if given that freedom.  I have trailered Sam (wild mare – trailered only once before) and her newborn filly, for 5 hours in my heavily bedded trailer with the divider removed.   She was not tied.   I stopped often to check on her and I saw them laying down, facing forwards and backwards.  Mostly, she rode diagonally backwards.  At the end of the trip, she was totally fine, not sweaty and not upset.

My other horses, if given the opportunity to ride free in a trailer, will stand splay-legged in reverse.

To top off my surmises, I know that when I am paying top dollar for my show horses to ride across country, the best way for them to arrive refreshed is to put them, untied,  in a heavily bedded box stall.  This would be the same as riding untied in an open 2-horse without a divider.  In this way, they can decide how they want to ride… and they can lay down whenever they want.

So, if my show horses are well rested after a two day journey riding in a box stall, then I think that is probably the best way.  After all, show horses do have some of the most luxurious trailers available.  And, it is never questioned when half of the large shipping trailers have open box stalls or dividers in reverse.  And, I also have noticed that most of the reverse load trailers are high-end trailers.  Hmmmmmmm.  What do those fancy trailer people know?…  I’m guessing that they too have learned that their horses arrive more rested at the final destinations when they ride reversed.

But, most of us are regular folks who just want to trailer one or more horses in our basic trailer.   So I’d like to think of the best way to fit them so we humans are economically sound and the horses are most definitely ergonomically sound.


Well, in my opinion, the American market hasn’t demanded enough of these reverse load trailers for the trailer makers to think up all the important details that they would if this was a more popular item.  I’m not saying that reverse loads aren’t a good idea, I’m just suggesting that they might want to offer more options for these models.

So far, the designs are mostly for more than 3-horse loads.  I would love to see a really nice 2-horse…  But, my main beef are the configurations.  I want more choices.  I want removable dividers with the tack room up front, not in the back.  I know that the idea is to have a ramp in the middle so the horses walk on and face backwards, but that necessary design messes up the tack room, I think.  Or something… I’m not sure what is up with the tack room on these reverse loads but I didn’t see placement that I liked, yet, on a smaller model.

I also am not sold on ramps.  I have seen several accidents.  So, I don’t think I would want a ramp.

Also, I want to be able to see my horses noses through the open window (with bars or screens, of course) on my driver side window.  So, I want to have their reversed noses on my side.  Many of the reverse loads have the windows on the passenger side.

Straight reverse load... not sure about this one but better than straight load.


I think, knowing what I know now, I would purchase a stock trailer with removable reverse load dividers so that I could give my horses the most options.  (The only thing I don’t like about this is I would prefer windows to panels…).   I would choose a stock trailer first because they have more interior room for the horses.

I would probably do a couple of experiments with my horses.  I think I would put the dividers in for shorter rides, even if I had only one horse.  Part of me wonders if the dividers would help the single horse brace better because he could lean against it during shorter rides… So, the jury is still out on that part.  But for longer rides, I’d probably take out the dividers on a single horse and let him do whatever he feels like doing – as long as it was bedded deeply.  I think laying down and getting up would be easier with a deep bed.

If I had two horses, I’d use the reverse dividers.

I actually wish I had one…  I’d love to experiment in all the configurations!

Since I love my 4-Star, I'd probably like this reverse here.


I think I’m a convert to reverse load trailers.  I think I would like some design changes, but overall, I like it.  It makes sense to me.

And, if you were taught to drive a trailer like I was taught — riding in the horse part of the trailer while someone else drove — you’d probably want to experiment and do the best for your horse as well.  Once you’ve ridden in the back part, you have a whole other understanding of what your horse has to put up with while trailering.  If you haven’t been made to stand back there while someone else is driving, you should try it…  ;)   I think it would all become clear.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
The September Bucket Fund will benefit Grace, the skinniest horse still alive.  To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible horse,  please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

September's Bucket Fund is the Amazing Grace, the skinniest horse still alive. Click here to learn her story and make any size, secure Pay Pal Donation. Easy and it means so much!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

Only one comment so far...

  1. Suzanne

    Great post! When I did my exhaustive research before buying a trailer, I came across the info about horses preferring to face the rear and it made a lot of sense to me. A reverse load trailer became my first choice but I couldn’t find one. I am currently trailerless as I had to sell my beloved Equispirit but perhaps when I am in the market for a trailer, there will be a reverse straight load two-horse one for me somewhere! P.S. Dawn: I just checked out Equispirit’s website and found they are selling a “Equibreeze” model which is more stock trailer-like. I know you’ve mentioned you’d get a stock trailer next time, so you should check these out. Also I just got some Equip-spa Balm and am eager to see how it works for us.

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