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February 04, 2009

Buying a Trailer - Part 1

What should you look for when buying a new mule or donkey trailer?

Here are a few things to check before buying that new trailer.


Is the trailer big enough for the size or number of mules or donkeys you want to haul in it?

Horse trailers come in all shapes and sizes. The smallest ones I've seen were a one-horse straight load trailer and little tiny 2-pony trailers that were really to narrow and short to even comfortably fit ponies in. I have also seen some pretty long 6 or 8 horse gooseneck trailers. And then there are semi-truck horse trailers. I don't suppose there are many of us who will be buying the semi-truck version, so this discussion will focus on the ones pulled by ordinary trucks and SUVs.

When picking a new trailer, you will want to take into consideration how many animals you will usually be hauling if you only ever take one mule out at a time, you might want a 2-horse trailer - to give a good amount of space to get your mule in and out, and maybe have the extra stall available if a friend ever wants to go riding with you. If your family of 4 always takes your mules out together, you'll need a 4-horse trailer to be able to haul them all.

Besides the number of animals the trailer will hold, you also need to think about how much space each stall has. If you have a big draft mule, or even just an average mammoth donkey, don't buy one of the tiny pony trailers. You might get your donkey's front feet in, but there won't be enough room for the rest of him!

Space for maneuvering at the locations where you will be taking the trailer

Another consideration to take into account when picking a new trailer, is amount of parking and maneuvering space at the locations you plan to take it. If you like to go out to remote trail heads with smaller parking areas, you'll probably want as small of a trailer as will work for your needs. A 2 or 3 horse trailer would be much easier to move around in these tight quarters than a long 6-horse trailer or even a 3 horse with living quarters.


Do you need living quarters?

Speaking of living quarters, that is something else to think about. If you take your mules or donkeys camping with you a lot or go to a lot of shows, living quarters in your trailer might be a nice feature. However, also remember living quarters will add extra length to your trailer and greatly increase the price. If you don't mind tent camping, you will probably be just as at home sweeping out the animal portion of your trailer, putting down a tarp, and setting up camp in there. Or if your trailer is like mine with a small dressing room and space above the gooseneck, you can set up a nice cozy place to stay right in there. Put some foam padding down on the part above the gooseneck, and it makes an excellent bed! This will save you a lot of money.

Is it appropriately sized for the vehicle you'll be using to pull it?

While thinking about the size of trailer to get, you also need to consider what size vehicle you'll be using to pull it. Some larger SUVs may be used to pull a light trailer 2-horse trailer of a couple thousand pounds, while smaller SUVs are entirely inappropriate for pulling that kind of weight. And if you want to pull a mid-sized to large horse trailer, you better plan on using a 3/4 ton, 1 ton, or larger truck. Every vehicle has a towing weight rating, check the rating on yours to know what it is built to pull. Then compare that with the weight of the trailer plus equines, tack, feed, equipment, and anything else you'll be hauling with you. You definitely don't want to pull a heavy trailer with an under-rated towing vehicle. That is just asking for disaster.


Do you have the appropriate driving credentials to haul a trailer of this size?

One last thing to remember when picking out the size of trailer to buy. There is a limit to how heavy of a vehicle, trailer, or combined vehicle/trailer weight you may operate/drive with a standard drivers license. You'll want to make sure the GVWR rating for your trailer doesn't exceed this limit. If you need a trailer or rig that is rated for a heavier weight than this limit, then you will need to get your CDL drivers license. If you are pulled over driving a rig that exceeds this weight limit rating, and don't have an appropriate license, you will most likely be required to wait there until a certified CDL driver can come and drive your rig to your destination. This could be a huge delay and problem for you! Remember, it is based on the weight the vehicle is rated for, not how much it actually weighs.

Tomorrow I'll cover a few more points to consider when picking out a trailer.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at February 4, 2009 09:39 PM