Three Questions to Ask Yourself about Horse Trailer Weight

OEM Parts, Recreational Vehicles | October 11, 2018

Finding the proper horse trailer weight is a critical task, one that affects your safety behind the wheel. Your trailer’s weight already puts stress on your vehicle, and a trailer that is too heavy can interfere with proper steering, braking, wheel operation, and other vital vehicle functions. Add the weight of your horses, and the situation becomes riskier. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to make sure your truck and trailer combination is a safe pair for towing. Here are three questions to ask yourself about your current truck and trailer.

Do You Know Your Weights?

There are two weight values to be aware of when it comes to your horse trailer, the first being your horse trailer weight. With this value, you should know the weight of the trailer with and without your horses. The second value to measure is your tongue weight. This is the amount of empty trailer weight exerted onto the hitch of your vehicle. Bumper pull horse trailers and gooseneck horse trailers will have tongue weight. For a bumper pull trailer, your value will land between 10-20% of empty trailer weight. Gooseneck trailer weight can vary but usually falls somewhere around 22%.

Does Your Tongue Weight Hold Up?

When your trailer is hitched, its weight is exerted on your axles, tires, frame, and wheels. Your vehicle has a certain payload that it can support so that the weight of the combined trailer and vehicle does not exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.

Take inventory of what you normally haul and how many people ride in the vehicle. If your vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is 7,000 (this includes its cargo rating), and you are also carrying 1,822 lbs (people, extra cargo, and tongue weight), your vehicle has become overloaded and strained.

Keep in mind that any additions to your trailer or vehicle will add weight and need to be factored into your weight values. There is a difference between tow rating and tongue weight rating. When choosing your vehicle, be aware that manufacturers are likely to push high tow ratings, but never call attention to low tongue weight ratings and payload capacities.

How’s Your Hitch?

It’s critical to check the rating of your vehicle’s hitch. Inspect the hitch for two stickers. One is for the ball mount and the other for the hitch itself. Make sure both of these ratings are fit to support your horse trailer tongue weight. If your ratings are not suitable for the tongue weight, try re-adjusting the load. If this does not work, consider investing in a new horse trailer or vehicle.

When looking for a safe vehicle and trailer match, make sure that the vehicle can properly support a full trailer. The design of your trailer should be considered, too. If horses are placed on one end of the trailer more than another, your tongue weight will certainly increase.

How to Weigh Your Horse Trailer Guide

After asking these questions about your current trailer and truck combination, you may need to get an idea of your weight values. Here is a quick guide to weighing your trailer using a local weigh station:

Step 1 – The first step will be to take your loaded trailer to a weigh station and position your vehicle so that all four tires are on the scale. Your trailer should be off the scale. This weight should be less than your Gross Vehicle Weight Rating in order to be considered safe for hauling.       

Step 2 –  Weigh your vehicle alone, detached from your trailer. Subtract this weight from the previous weight recorded in Step 1. This is your tongue weight value and should be less than tongue weight capacity found on your hitch and ball mount stickers.

Step 3 – Reattach your fully loaded trailer and place both your vehicle and trailer on the scale. This weight should be less than your Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating.

Step 4 – Weigh your loaded trailer by itself. This is the weight of your horse trailer and needs to be within the vehicle’s towing capacity.

All of these weight values and calculations can be a lot to sort and process, but it’s always a good idea to fix an inadequate truck and trailer pairing before an accident occurs. Vehicles can wind up in various scenarios where the overbearing weight of the trailer can force the towing vehicle into another driver with much more impact. If you would like other tips and ideas for making your travels as safe and comfortable as possible, visit our previous blog on automating your trailer’s windows or learn more about our SideWinder window operating system here. The SideWinder quickly converts awning style manual windows and vents into electrical operation which is perfect for horse trailers!

If you have any questions about horse trailer weight or any of our products and services, please feel free to contact us at 937-346-0800.