Shopping for a horse float can be a nerve-wracking experience. So many things to consider! We can’t point to a single option and say, “This is the best horse float to buy” – there are a lot of different variables which should influence your choice. So instead, we’ve put together a list of the top ten points you should contemplate and make decisions on before you make a purchase.
Horse trailers are often made with a combination of materials. It’s important to consider the composition of your new trailer because this affects the weight of the trailer, how often you’ll need to do maintenance work on it, the type and expense of maintenance, and how much it will cost when inevitable repairs are required. The floor material will also affect how comfortable your horses are and ease of cleaning. The most common options are:
- Galvanised steel and hot-dipped galvanised steel
Your vehicle’s towing capacity
The vehicle that you plan to use to tow the horse float must be legally capable of pulling that weight. To start with, check your vehicle’s handbook for its ATM – Aggregate Trailer Mass. Some manufacturers will list GTM – Gross Trailer Mass – instead. These terms aren’t interchangeable; GTM will always be lower than ATM. Remember to also factor in the weight of the horses you plan to transport. See the RACQ’s trailer and tow specifications page for more information.
There are many suspension options available to limit the amount of shaking and jolting that your horses need to experience. Some horse owners swear by rocker roller suspension; others by torsion suspension. Air suspension is an expensive but arguably superior option.
Type of brakes
The legal requirements for brakes will vary depending on the weight (ATM) of the horse float. There are two basic types available: hydraulic and electric. Electric brakes, with a controller installed in your vehicle, are the safest option.
Interior float height
The height that you need inside the float will depend a lot on the horses that you’ll be transporting, but generally a minimum interior height of 2.2-2.3m is recommended. This is higher than many ready-made floats, so it’s worth keeping in mind as you look for your float. Also check the entry height; some floats have a lip that requires horses to duck their heads on entering.
Straight or angle load
Horse enthusiasts are divided on the merits of straight and angle load floats. Which you pick will depend on your horses, your budget, and the size of the float that you want to buy. It is important to weigh up the pros and cons to work out what will suit you best.
Bad ventilation in a horse float can result in ammonia fumes and carbon dioxide building up and causing breathing problems for your horses. It also allows heat from the horses and from the sun to be trapped inside, potentially overheating the horses. Ideally, shop around for a float with sides and back that can be left open.
While most floats in Australia will use a ramp entry for the horses, you’ll find some with steps. Both options have their pros and cons: ramps are typically simpler for a horse to navigate but may be difficult to raise and lower. Beware ramps that are too steep or would be slippery when wet. If you want a step entry, ensure that steps are edged with thick rubber to protect your horses’ legs if they slip or stumble.
When you get down to shortlisting and inspecting potential buys, check each trailer for safety hazards before buying. Look for exposed edges and bits of metal – exposed bolts, door fastenings, chains, etc – that a horse might shy or fall into and injure themselves. Look for gaps that hooves might catch on. There’s a good list of specifics here: Is your horse trailer an accident waiting to happen?
These days, a range of horse float accessories are available to make life more comfortable for your and your equine companions. A trailer camera that you can monitor from your vehicle provides peace of mind and ensures that you’ll be aware of any problems in the trailer as they occur. A mobile water heater with shower attachment provides a hot shower anywhere, but also makes it easy to clean mud from horses’ forelegs before it dries. A bed, sink, toilet, and microwave on board can make life a lot simpler at venues with minimal or shared facilities.
Do you need a loan for a horse float? Getting a loan for your next horse float is easy with our online application. We’ll find the best loan deal for you! Best rates, best conditions to match your situation.