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John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/23/21 6:17 p.m.

A friend of the family is into horses.  I know nothing of horses.  She is shopping horse trailers and reached out to me.  

2012 Ford Explorer V6 with factory tow package.  The Ford Towing Guide then says a max towing capacity of 5,000lbs WITH WEIGHT DISTRIBUTING HITCH.  

This is the horse trailer the friend is considering. 

I have done trailers but I have little experience with weight dist hitch.  When I research them I see images like this:

Will the trailer listed above work easily with a weight dist hitch?  How would you clamp on?  

 

The claims are that the trailer listed above weights 2,300#.  The horses are about 1,100# each
2,300# trailer + 2,200# in horses = 4,500#   That leaves just 500# of room for crap like sadles and feed.  Works?  

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/23/21 8:09 p.m.

I mean, works but barely. I don't think horses are the easiest type of weight to tow, lb for lb. As far as the weight distributing hitch, what it does is try to rotate the drawbar  (the square tube with the ball on it that slides into the receiver)  downward, which basically tries to pitch the whole tow vehicle forward as well. This basically compresses the front suspension of the tow vehicle and reduces the weight on the rear suspension, which is what they mean by 'distributing weight'. It also shifts some weight rearward on the trailer as well. There are hardware limitations to this so it doesn't really give you the ability to run like double the tongue weight just because you're sending some to the front end, but it does allow you to run more tongue weight safely because you're not affecting the weight distribution of the tow vehicle as drastically, so you won't bottom out or 'porpoise' as much and your limit braking traction will be improved. 

karplus2
karplus2 Reader
1/23/21 8:16 p.m.

I tow a travel trailer behind my Ridgeline (also 5000 max with WDH). Our trailer is probably 4000ish fully loaded. I got the most basic (read cheap) WDH with sway bar. It works great! The first time I towed the trailer I didn't have the WDH and it towed just fine but the WDH really levels the truck out and gives lots of confidence when towing. I will go back and try to find the setup that I got.

Edit: This is what I run. Bought from etrailer.com. Some people spend big money on WDH in the travel trailer would. I find this setup to work great for the $ spent

Cadman5
Cadman5 Reader
1/23/21 9:08 p.m.

The brackets at the top of the chains reach over the frame rails and clamp to the inside. Look closely at your photo. They will need to cut a bit of the sheet metal away that's on top of the tongue area. Width of the frame rails is also critical for fit of the brackets. They will also need an adjustable height ball to make it work properly

grover
grover Dork
1/23/21 10:34 p.m.

They work great in my experience. Need to be careful putting the chains on and off. 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/23/21 10:51 p.m.

No personal experience, but I know a couple people who have towed horses.  How sure is your friend about that 1100 pound number?  My impression is that that's a pretty small horse, and trying to do a two horse trailer with a 5K weight rating sounds pretty marginal.

 

yupididit
yupididit PowerDork
1/23/21 10:55 p.m.
John Welsh said:

A friend of the family is into horses.  I know nothing of horses.  She is shopping horse trailers and reached out to me.  

2012 Ford Explorer V6 with factory tow package.  The Ford Towing Guide then says a max towing capacity of 5,000lbs WITH WEIGHT DISTRIBUTING HITCH.  

This is the horse trailer the friend is considering. 

I have done trailers but I have little experience with weight dist hitch.  When I research them I see images like this:

Will the trailer listed above work easily with a weight dist hitch?  How would you clamp on?  

 

The claims are that the trailer listed above weights 2,300#.  The horses are about 1,100# each
2,300# trailer + 2,200# in horses = 4,500#   That leaves just 500# of room for crap like sadles and feed.  Works?  

 

In my opinion, she doesn't have enough vehicle for towing that weight. Especially it being horses.  

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/24/21 12:12 a.m.

In reply to yupididit :

In my opinion, she doesn't have enough vehicle for towing that weight. Especially it being horses.  
 

Definitely agree with this. Not even close. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/24/21 7:01 a.m.

Thanks for the replies.  My gut feeling going into this was, "that's a lot of load for a unibody SUV to haul."  However, the numbers themselves were not showing it.  I had to take her word on horse weight but I agree it seems low.  I have not hauled horses but they strike me as an odd load with a high center of gravity and with the amazing ability to shift weight at will.

Independently, I found this article on horse trailers pointing that these with forward quarters have extreme tongue weight.  I shared her the article and directed her to ask about tongue weight and ask for manufacturer and model so that we could research the data via the manufacturer.  

She has since written that she'll pass on this one.  

I had not yet brought it up to her but I also have some concerns with paint.  All the hitch triangle as well as chains have been painted, and likely recently.  You can also see the lug nuts have been painted too.  This could either be diligent maint and care by the owner for rust remediation or it could be a spray bomb cover-up job ala Earl Scheib.

NoBrakesRacing
NoBrakesRacing Reader
1/24/21 7:15 a.m.

In the rv travel trailer world the general rule is to not tow more than 80% of vehicle capacity.

That would be 4000lbs on the explorer, including all the saddles and tack. 

 

Centerline hitch

This is the weight distribution hitch with sway control that is often recommended and I use. 

I tow a 3500lbs travel trailer, that may weight 4500lbs fully loaded, with a Jeep Grand Cherokee that has a 6200lbs towing limit. Would not want more weight. It has a full air suspension that self levels and built in sway control plus brake controller. Trailer has electric brakes.

Good luck

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones HalfDork
1/24/21 8:19 a.m.

Anytime I see a loaded horse trailer, it's attached to a pickup truck, and usually a f-250/2500 etc. Horses are heavy, and move around. 

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
1/24/21 8:58 a.m.

Definitely not enough tow rig.  That trailer would be fine behind a half ton pickup (F-150 / 1500), but nothing smaller.  I've towed a smaller horse trailer than that with my Jeep and it did fine (with no WD), but the only time it had 2 horses in there the trip was on side roads at under 40 mph.  The Jeep is rated for 6500 lbs, so more than the Explorer. 

In general, horse trailers tow well, but that's partly because they're fairly tongue heavy (especially when unloaded).  And you're towing live weight, so you don't want to push the rating of the tow rig.  If the Explorer is rated for 5k, I'd consider it only enough for a smaller, lighter horse trailer with a single horse in it.  Definitely not 2 horses. 

Weight wise, I usually estimate 1200 lbs for a horse unless I have a reason to expect more.  So that trailer will carry 2, but not a lot of water or anything else heavy with them. 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
1/24/21 10:44 a.m.

+ however on the Exploder not being enough tow vehicle. Towing capacity assumes a fairly minimal load in the tow vehicle. The "real" number is Gross Combined Weight Rating, which is the maximum of the fully loaded tow vehicle and trailer together. I'm thinking that the Exploder with gear and that trailer with horses will exceed it's GCWR. Ford puts out a towing guide every year that has all the specs for their vehicles, so I'd google the guide for the model year of the Exploder to find it's GCWR.

On the topic of weight distributing hitches, we have the Equal-i-zer on our travel trailer, and it's great. Only downside is that it squeaks during sharp turns at low speeds, like when you're parking a trailer at a campground.

44Dwarf
44Dwarf UberDork
1/24/21 8:15 p.m.

Glad she passed.

The one thing I'd add is when it comes to hitches spend your money once. Go Blue OX!  Why? There bars lock into sockets so you say clean. In most other brands the bars are bent at a 90 deg on the ends and you are supposed to grease when putting them in and grease slides down the arms as you tow. then when you take the bars out you have a greasey mess to clean and store.  Blue ox also has the widest spread of load bars 500 to 2000 tongue weight, so if you buy a bigger trailer or a second trailer you just buy the bars not the whole unit again. Bonuse it has built in sway control so no need for an extra friction bar.

No, I don't work for them just very happy with setup. Over 10 years and 60,000+ miles plus there made in the USA.  Not the cheapest, no, but there are places that sell them discounted like AdventureRV.net

 

44

Rotaryracer
Rotaryracer Reader
1/25/21 12:14 p.m.
karplus2 said:

I tow a travel trailer behind my Ridgeline (also 5000 max with WDH). Our trailer is probably 4000ish fully loaded. I got the most basic (read cheap) WDH with sway bar. It works great! The first time I towed the trailer I didn't have the WDH and it towed just fine but the WDH really levels the truck out and gives lots of confidence when towing. I will go back and try to find the setup that I got.

Edit: This is what I run. Bought from etrailer.com. Some people spend big money on WDH in the travel trailer would. I find this setup to work great for the $ spent

Was this a recent purchase?  Not only are those cheaper than the basic Camco EAZ-Hitch I've been looking at, but it's about half the cost of what eTrailer.com is charging these days.  Not sure if these have been hit with a 100% COVID surcharge or what, but if there is a trick or hack to getting those prices, I will order immediately....that's a killer good deal.

ColoradoBob
ColoradoBob New Reader
1/25/21 7:27 p.m.

I agree with comments above

My daughter has towed horse trailers for many years.  The oddest sensation is sitting at a traffic light and having the truck rock side to side from the horses moving.  This is with a gooseneck trailer and I can imagine that a bumper pull is even worse.

karplus2
karplus2 Reader
1/26/21 9:20 a.m.

In reply to Rotaryracer :

It would have been almost exactly 1 year ago (1/31/2020). They were on some kind of super sale at the time. I didn't want to spend a lot because I only spent $2400 on my run down camper and didn't know if my family would actually like camping. Even though they were cheap, they do exactly what they are supposed to do.

In regards to OP, I would also add that a trailer brake controller is an absolute must.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/26/21 9:47 a.m.

If she is a very experienced tow driver and she's doing it three times a year to a farm 6 miles away, I think the Explorer would be fine.  If she's loading up two priceless horses for delivery 200 miles away, I'd skip it.

On the subject of the WD hitches...  They can be a genuine lifesaver if set up properly.  They are usually sold by a vague weight rating.  That is to say, the number of the rating gives a ballpark of how much weight force they can transfer to the hitch.

In general, the round-tube style is usually less expensive and more common.  They can be a bit more sensitive to damage if they aren't set up properly.  If you over-do it, the round bars tend to gall in the hole.  The trunnion style is less likely to be damaged by improper setup.  Before getting the friction anti-sway, I always try it without first.  The WD hitch does some anti-sway on it's own; partly because it takes some of the load off of the rear axle, but also because it "loads" the torsion bar when it's off-center.  As the vehicle articulates, one bar moves back and the other moves forward.  This adds load to bar as the radius of the chain tries to pull it up.  There is a natural tendency therefore for the trailer to want to stay straight behind the vehicle.

To install the cams on a trailer tongue like you showed above, you would have to remove or cut that pan covering the tongue.  Some manufacturers offer a bolt-on cam plate, but it's not common.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/26/21 9:51 a.m.
Steve_Jones said:

Anytime I see a loaded horse trailer, it's attached to a pickup truck, and usually a f-250/2500 etc. Horses are heavy, and move around. 

True, but that could be because they have a 3/4 ton truck for other reasons.  I don't think she needs an F250 for two horses.  Around here you often see 2-up horse trailers being towed by a dually.  That's not because they need it for the horses, it's because they also have a 24' equipment trailer and a backhoe on the farm.  A lot of times you just need a big truck for a big farm.

Wayslow
Wayslow Dork
1/26/21 12:26 p.m.

 I suggest your friend look at either Bockmann or Benderup trailers. I'm not promising I got the spelling right on either of those. They're both European style horse trailers specifically designed to be towed by smaller vehicles. 
 I've towed a regular two horse bumper pull trailer with a Tahoe and I don't think I'd want to go with a smaller vehicle.

 

APEowner
APEowner Dork
1/26/21 1:48 p.m.

Good advise so far.  I don't think anyone has mentioned brakes yet but they're a requirement as well. 

Horses aren't as bad as cows to tow.  Horses will tend to lean into the corners.  Cows just fall over against the sides of the trailer.

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
1/26/21 1:59 p.m.

Brakes are a given in my mind.  Any trailer bigger than something for a push mower should have proper electric brakes (not surge brakes) on all axles and a good brake controller in the tow rig. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/26/21 2:07 p.m.
rslifkin said:

Brakes are a given in my mind.  Any trailer bigger than something for a push mower should have proper electric brakes (not surge brakes) on all axles and a good brake controller in the tow rig. 

This.

About the only time I don't use brakes is if the tow pig is overkill.  Like if I'm towing the kayaks with dad's dually.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
1/26/21 2:13 p.m.

I know I should be ashamed or something about not towing with a dually and full brakes.... but my trailer has never had working brakes. The sierra is fine with it and a 2500-3000lb car. Any more and it starts to become something you're mindful of. But then again, with a 4.8, 5500lbs of truck and 3.23 rear gears you're already very mindful of what's behind you past 5k lbs. 

Wayslow
Wayslow Dork
1/26/21 5:45 p.m.

In reply to bobzilla :

In the horse world if you're not towing with a diesel dually then you're guilty of animal cruelty.If you' travel to Europe you routinely see a 2 horse trailer being pulled by a Volvo V70.

 I do, however, tow with a F350. To be honest I've never towed anything and thought "I wish I had a smaller/lighter tow vehicle". I started with a Tahoe then moved to a F150 then a F350. In fairness our horse trailers keep increasing in size. Now our small trailer is a gooseneck slant load 3 horse with living quarters. 

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