I’m going to be very brave and post pictures I just took of my trailer. I really should have washed it all out and polished it for this. But, I didn’t. Yup, this is how it really looks at the end of winter…
OK, here is the scoop for me and my trailer. I bought this 4-Star , 2-horse gooseneck in 1997. At that time, a 2-horse, slant load gooseneck was unheard of. I was forging new ground. But, I was sure that was what I wanted. And, I was sure of all the other options I chose, too. 13 years later, I’m a bit more educated… I’ve traveled many miles and hauled many horses and have discovered that I was mistaken on a few things. Don’t get me wrong, I love my trailer! It has never had any structural problems and I feel totally safe hauling my horses. But, I have to admit there are some things I would change. So, let’s get started.
First off, here is a picture of my trailer, as it sits, exactly, today.
WHAT I’M HAPPY I CHOSE:
1) A 4-Star. I have never had a problem in 13 years. I feel totally safe. It is totally reliable and I love it.
2) I love my gooseneck. It is easy to turn and I can get myself out of tight spots. (I wish I had gotten a 4-wheel drive truck, but that is another story.)
3) I love that 4-Star puts the tack room on the driver side. I like it because I know if I have left the tack door open when I sit in the driver’s seat instead of when I’m already driving… I also like that when I walk into my tack room, it slants backwards which is how I naturally want to fall into it. So, it just feels right. This is minor, of course.
4) I love the drop down windows because the horses have a full view and I can keep an eye on them while I’m driving.
5) I love all the bells and whistles inside the tack room: multiple bridle hooks, built-in grooming areas, blanket racks, saddle racks, built-in step to get to the bed area (it is not a living quarters) and the one-way window in the tack door that lets in light but people cannot see in when I am in there with the door closed.
6) I love that my divider is removable. This has helped in many horse situations (sick mare and baby, wild horse hauling) as well as when I’m using the trailer as a hay hauler or appliance transporter.
7) I love the slant load horse area because I got padded everything, mats on the floor and up the sides of the walls as well as welded-in rings for just about anything (I’ve hooked bungies to them when using the trailer as a moving van), and I love my folding rear-tack room (in theory).
WHAT I ORDERED BUT NEVER USE:
1) The Folding Rear Tack Room: It seemed like such a good idea to have the stinky pads and saddles away from all the clean stuff and back with the horses. But, I never use it. I feel that I’d rather have it collapsed for two reasons. a) It gives the horses more room and b) I like my saddles and pads to be in the front tack room with everything else while I’m tacking up. Easier for me.
(Here is a pic of the Folding Rear Tack Room which is folded here, as it always is with me…)
2) Exterior Lights. I never use them. Well, maybe twice in 13 years. But, the reality is I’m usually where I need to be by dark. So, for me, fairly unnecessary. (However, if you are hauling horses at night, the lights would be very helpful.)
3) Ceiling Vents: I always open them because I think it helps with air flow. Then, I forget and leave them open. Stuff falls into the trailer and when it rains, everything gets wet and damp and musty. I have learned to just leave them shut. So, why have them?
4) The Extra Grooming Rack attached to the rear door: I never use it because I don’t use the rear tack room. So, I end up stuffing it with towels so the horses don’t step into it.
5) Astro-Turf Flooring in the front tack room: I never use it because it is difficult to clean, shows wear and is uncomfortable on bare feet. Of course, I have to step on something, so I went to a carpet warehouse and got some large remnants that were big enough to cover the floor of the front tack room and also up on the bedding area. Now, the carpet is easy to clean and soft. Also, I’m protecting the astro-turf in case I ever sell the trailer.
WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY
1) GET A STOCK TRAILER. Yup. I said it. My horse riding area is plushy and lovely for me, but I really think my horses would prefer more head room and more air. So, I could get a stock trailer. Also, unknown horses/rescue horses/sick horses… are not all comfortable or trained for a cushy, darker trailer. I have grumbled about not having a stock trailer a few times now. In fact, with difficult loaders or rescue horses, I often borrow a friends stock trailer. It is just more open and inviting for problem/scared horses. And, they don’t have drop down windows.
2) BARS ATTACHED TO THE WINDOW FRAME. I actually like drop down windows, but if I got them again, I’d get them with the bars attached to the trailer window frame instead of the window. The reason? I have had horses try to jump out the windows – even with the strong fly screens attached. So, you gotta figure if a horse wants OUT badly enough to attempt jumping, the last thing you want to do is shut them in even more by closing the windows.
3) BREAK-AWAY FEEDERS. I have two horses that paw when trailering. They both have accidentally gotten their feet stuck in the feeders. This is bad because you don’t know it when you are driving. So, when you finally stop and notice the predicament, the horse is exhausted and has kicked the bejeesus out of your trailer in frustration. (Glad I have mats all the way up the walls…) I use feeders that are hung really high and without hoof sized openings.
4) GET 60/40 DOORS. This is where the in/out door is 60% of the space and the other door is 40%. For me, I find that scared horses or just big horses need more room and open space. Also, several of my horses prefer to lead out instead of back out. So, a 60/40 would give us both more room. Since I never use my rear tack room, I wish I had instead gotten the 60/40 door option.
5) DIFFERENT WINDOWS. These slider windows are on the opposite side, in the tack room and on the rear door. They leak. No matter how tight you pull them — even when you hear them snap shut, they leak. And, they get very dirty. Stuff collects in the groove. After winter, as you can see, all the moisture and left over dirt/seeds have created a little garden in the horse area window. Ugh. And, my tack room is always damp in the rainy season. I don’t like this one bit.
6) BETTER WHEELS. I should have just gotten good ones. I lose these all the time and I wonder how many are frisbeeing around some freeway…
7) A THREE-HORSE. I should have gotten a three-horse. It isn’t that much longer for turning or parking and it would have been much roomier. Truthfully, I usually only haul one horse. But, I see many reasons for the extra room. I could haul hay on trips much more conveniently, the horses could walk out frontways easily and I would probably use my rear tack room…
OK, those are my opinions. What are yours? I wish someone would have told me all this stuff when I was shopping. What do you think?
I have a 1993 thee horse slant with no rear tack room. All my windows still seal tight (except the one kicked out by horse years ago). I use the front tack room for dry storage because it stays dryer and cleaner than my barn. I too wish I had the feeder windows with bars. I did have custom made netting put on windows but I still close when I have green or nervous horses. Does anyone make window bar inserts that would fit this trailer?
Donna, check out Equispirit trailers. I loved mine dearly but had to sell it because of financial problems. It was really perfect. The only thing I’d change about it is the windows. I don’t know if they offer any other window options however.
Thanks, Donna! Good idea!
We are trailer shopping currently and have a friend who is a Featherlite and Merhow dealer. That being said we have looked at hundreds of trailers from every manufacturer imaginable it seems and every dealer is out to tell you how great their trailers are… So that being said – whenever I am talking with a dealer I ask ” If the manufacturer gave you Carte blanche to change one thing in the manufacturing of these trailers what would it be?” You would be surprised at the dumbfounded looks I get – some will try and say “oh nothing there is nothing I would change about Trailer manufacturer XYZ and I say really so you never have any warranty work? or recall work?” Then they come clean and say” ok if I could change one thing it would be this…” You find out the best info this way. Unless you are looking for a “disposable” trailer – one to get you by for a few years it is worth it to bite the bullet and buy the trailer you want – hence the reason we STILL do not have one LOL Have not found the one we want – have found lots we don’t want LOL.