Hi Everyone. Looking for opinions on trailering options.
I am thinking about getting my first trailer and towing vehicle. I'm deciding if I want an older truck to sit at the barn just for towing or a newer vehicle to drive every day and use to tow. I do not want to drive a Ford F250/150 or equivalent every day so I'm looking at big SUV options rated for towing horse trailers. I have heard the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango with the full tow package and sway bars will definitely do the job. I want the vehicle to be safe and definitely be able to do the job. Does anyone have any experience towing with either of these vehicles or equilavent vehicles?
I would be looking at getting a two horse trailer with dressing room - one of the lighter models not the steel models.
I am not sure how many horses you wish to tow or which trailer you want to purchase but....
I bought a new Jeep Liberty with the tow package. Towing capacity is 5,000lbs.
I towed 2 horses with a Bockman trailer, no problem and recently purchased an older Cavallo 2 horse, fiberglass top and steel lower and I have no problems towing my mare in it.
I doubt I want to pull two but... it could do it.
I just wanted something a bit more fuel efficient than a full size.
I did the same myself, and ended up with a Jeep Grand Cherokee (5.7L Hemi V8 with factory tow package) and a Brenderup Baron. I'm rated to tow a bit over 7000 lbs. It pulls the Brenderup wonderfully, but it would be hairy with a US style trailer.
I wanted the Dodge Durango, but when I was looking it was impossible to find the V8 hemi engine and the factory tow package that was rated to tow 9000 lbs. The new model is rated to tow similar to the Jeep - 7400 lbs. I believe, which is fine if you are going to go with a Euro-style trailer.
If you want safe free-range of two-horse trailer models, you need to go up a size in SUV to a Chevy Suburban, Infiniti QX56, Nissan Armada, or Ford Excursion/Expedition. Properly equipped, these can all get you between 8500 and 9500 lb. towing capacity.
I tow my Brenderup Royal TC with a Toyota Rav4 6 cylinder with factory towing package. It is rated for 5000 lbs. I mostly haul one of my horses at a time. Sometimes both but generally if we are hauling both it is with Hubby's Toyota Tundra.
The Aspen (discontinued) and Durango are essentially similar to my Grand Cherokee. My Hemi V8 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit is rated for 7200 lb towing with it's class IV hitch, self-leveling air suspension and integral anti-sway. It pulls my 2004 TrailersUSA 2h BP like it's not there when empty and barely there with a load in it. With both horses (1200 lbs each) plus the trailer weight (2000 lbs), I'm at about 4400 lbs plus "accessories"...well below the rating which is a good thing with live weight and also below the weight of the tow vehicle. (5300 lbs) The current generation Durango and Grand Cherokee share similar towing capacities. One thing I would not do is tow live weight much closer to the capacity--I prefer staying at or below 5000 lbs rather than going higher with this vehicle combination. Chrysler also suggests using a weight distributing hitch when you get up higher in the weight. With my air suspension, I don't feel the need, but if tongue weight was higher, I'd use it.
So what trailer you choose as well as your horse(s)'s weight(s) is the bottom line here with this type of SUV for towing. Some folks will scoff at anything less than a 250/350 class dually for towing, but if you work things out, you can have a very nice daily driver and still haul your horses safely.
Thanks everyone for your comments. I don't know much about the euro-style trailers. As I said, I'd be looking for a 2 horse BP with dressing room - one of the lighter styles - not steel - probably not to exceed 3000 lbs or so. I have a 1200 lb horse and would most likely be towing 2 sometimes. So a Jeep Liberty or Rav4 is out of the question.
Jim - I had an Aspen and loved driving it every day so I would absolutely get another one and have found one fully equipped in my area. I have talked to one woman who tows two horses with her Aspen and she loves it and says it absolutely does the job with sway bars, big tow package, etc. I can see that people would scoff at anything less than the big trucks, but we are seeing more full size SUV's equipped for trailering horses. I would just like to hear from some of those folks and see what their experiences have been. Safety first! Thanks for your input - it has been insightful.
You need to be sure that the Aspen you're considering has the V8 engine and the factory tow package that includes the cooling capacities you need. I was considering a DR equipped trailer, but decided to stay lighter with a non-DR 2h, but I'm installing a storage bench in the nose to effectively create what I'll call a " cowboy dressing room" once the horses are outside.
Jim - YES most definitely it has the V8 Hemi and cooling, sway bars, etc... I have seen trailers with the storage bench in the nose and I've been thinking about that too. So many options on so many issues it's overwhelming. Have you heard anything about Eclipse trailers?
There have been a number of threads about Eclipse...I'll leave that subject to folks with experience.
Cotner provides the storage bench feature in several of their models, which is where I got the original idea for what I'm working on in my new-to-me trailer. I just didn't want to go to the larger trailer size, both because my needs are incidental local hauling, and to keep the trailer weight lower. Personal preference. My trailer is aluminum skin on steel frame with an "empty" weight, according to the manufacturer, of 1980 lbs. Anything with a DR would have added a lot of weight from most manufacturers. Since I was buying used, one of the Euro trailers I've been coveting for years just wasn't under consideration due to cost.
Also keep in mind that the posted towing capacity isn't the real towing capacity. For example, let's say the towing capacity on my Jeep GC is 7200 lbs. That is calculated with a 150 lb. driver and nothing else in the car. Therefore, if I want to carry some tack, and two passengers, I need to subtract that from my towing capacity. Also check, but some vehicles are tested for towing capacity prior to being equipped- i.e. without back seats, air conditioners, etc. It's really deceptive. So, you need to subtract 500-1000 lbs. depending on what's in your truck, and what was in it for testing.
So, let's say I've got 6500 lbs. of real towing capacity. Someone I trust with mechanical things said never to tow above 80% of towing capacity- especially when you are talking live weight. So, I considered my maximum to be 5200 lbs. I ended up with the Brenderup as a result.
If you want to look at non-Euro brands with this kind of towing capacity- I'd encourage you to get curb weights on everything. Some of the aluminum two-horses can run close to 4000 lbs. empty. That leaves you capacity for one horse (maybe) and nothing in the dressing room. I'd be looking for something 2500 lbs. or under- and there is absolutely no way to tell without finding out the numbers. If I recall, Shadow was relatively light, but Eclipse was not.
Cotner's non DR models are light in weight, ranging from 2200 to 2750 lbs empty. DR pushes things to about 3300 lbs. (http://www.cotnertrailers.com/horse_trailers.htm) They cost considerably less than Featherlite, too. (which Cotner also sells) I was really sold on doing a Böckmann, but ended up with a new-to-me trailer for a quarter of the cost that still was light in weight and safely towable by my JGC.
I went back and forth with this, and in the end, for safety reasons (and because I ABSOLUTLY had to have a dressing room AND the ability to pull two horses and tack) I just decided to buy a cheap (ugly) used truck that could actually do the job. I left it hooked to my trailer pretty much full time for two years. I drove it about two weekends a month, all over the place and drove my "regular car" the rest of the time. I think I paid $6500 cash for the F-250 with 80,000 miles, and I still got $3k trade in for it when I got a bigger truck last year - and I only upgraded my truck because I went from a 14 ft. bumper pull to a 35 ft gooseneck with LQ!
Would I have liked having a DR? Yes, absolutely...the extra space to carry stuff, etc., would be very nice. But in the end, given our needs are incidental local hauling of our own horses to the horse park and maybe a few nearby off-farm shows for my daughter, it wasn't worth pushing the envelope for me. But at the time, Debela had a very nice pre-owned Trailet with a DR for a reasonable price...it was tempting!
One thing I never, ever thought of until I got my no dressing room trailer is how much I like not having a dressing room because I can see my horse's head through the trailer window! No need for a camera system.
My two horse, no dressing room trailer is 2960 lbs empty by the way. I always wondered about the ultra-light trailers with dressing rooms (I mean the US ones--not the euro type) and how great their frame is...it's too bad there isn't a "consumer reports" equivalent with outside testing for horse trailers.