How much towing capacity do I need to tow a horse trailer?

In this article, we will answer the following question: How much towing capacity do I need to tow a horse trailer? We will discuss the criteria to pay attention to when choosing a car for towing a horse trailer. We will also discuss towing safety. 

How much towing capacity do I need to tow a horse trailer?

To be able to tow the average one/two-horse trailer, you will need a car with a towing capacity of at least 8.000 lbs. A horse trailer typically weighs between 2,300 and 3,900 lbs, to which you have to add the weight of the horse(s), the weight of the cargo – so the number goes up quickly. 

When you have to choose a car to tow a horse trailer you have to take into consideration various factors to tow safely. :

  • The curb weight of the car – The weight of the car for horse trailer towing is very important , this will be a determining factor for the stability of your train, especially when you are driving on the motorway or when you have to face major landslides. The empty weight of the car must be at least 20% greater than the real weight of the horse trailer, in this way we are abundantly safe.
  • The maximum torque – The maximum torque is intended as the torque developed on the crankshaft by the connecting rod-crank system, set in motion by the combustion of the fuel. Power is not everything, when towing the engine torque is essential, the higher the torque when the engine “runs low” the better . The torque values ​​are expressed in Newton per meter (Nm), usually a good torque value is higher than 250 Nm.
  • The displacement – The displacement, expressed in Cubic Centimeters (cc), is the volume of air sucked in during a cycle. Here, too, the larger the displacement, the greater the torque, a 1000 cc will have about half the torque that a 2000 cc.
  • The traction of the car –  Between the front and rear-wheel drive, the difference is not huge. The rear-wheel-drive has part of the weight on the rear, i.e. the differential, the axle shafts, etc, are in the rear part, while in the front-wheel-drive car they are in the forward part. 

For this reason, the centre of gravity in the rear-wheel drive is shifted backwards, this means that during the towing your train is a little more stable and less sensitive to holes and bumps, you will probably have better braking as the masses are arranged in such a way as to provide a larger braking surface.

Having clarified what are the elements at stake, you can make your evaluations, we have substantially extrapolated these three rules :

  1. The weight of the empty car must be at least 20% greater than the weight of the horse trailer.
  2. A 2000 CC turbo diesel engine is better for towing a horse trailer.
  3. A all-wheel drive car is better for rough roads.

Safety and regulations when towing a horse trailer

When towing a trailer, you must be aware that:

– fuel consumption increases even if you drive at moderate speed

– there is a significant reduction in the acceleration (pickup) capacity of the vehicle, especially if the trailer is loaded;

– on roads with steep climbs the temperature of the engine coolant

increases – the braking distance increases

– on steep descents, the thrust force exerted by the trailer on the tractor must be taken into account

– when driving straight ahead, during braking, the transported load it tends to move forward, while during a sudden acceleration it tends to move backwards;

– increases the overturning force exerted by the wind

– the movements of the liquid that occur inside a tank attached to a trailer (tank, bonza, etc.) during changes in direction, when braking and accelerating, are the major causes of instability in-vehicle complexes;

– when turning, the “clearance band” (i.e. the space needed to turn) of the vehicle complex is greater and the trailer tends to “tighten” the curve (because it travels a circular path with a radius smaller than the tractor). For example, when turning right, be careful not to step onto the pavement with the rear wheel.

How to safely pull a horse trailer with any car

Pulling a horse trailer requires being aware of your vehicle, the horse trailer, and the horse you are riding inside the trailer. To safely transport a horse, you must practice road safety and remember to take your time. 

You should always know the horse passenger you are carrying. Read the laws in your state for pulling a horse trailer. Each state has different laws that regulate how to legally and safely tow a horse trailer.

  • After the horse trailer is connected to the tow vehicle, walk through the trailer to make sure the roof vents are adjusted for the time of day. Check any safety releases to make sure they operate easily in case you need to get to your horse fast. Replace any old hay with new hay. 

Make sure there are no wasp or bee nests inside the trailer. Check the trailer floor to make sure it is stable with no rotten spots and to verify that there is nothing that can damage the horse’s feet.

  • Put a leather cap on any horse that has never been transported so it does not injure its head if it must back up. If it is a two-horse trailer and you are pulling a packhorse your horse is on the left side of the trailer. When pulling over a horse, put the heaviest horse on the left side of the trailer. 

Roads are crowned in the middle to have the heaviest horse or the single horse on the driver’s side will allow the trailer to pull safely. When towing a horse on a tilt load trailer always put the heaviest horse in front first. The main weight should be at the front of the trailer.

  • Secure the horse loosely enough on the rope so that there is no danger of a horse hanging itself in an accident. Make sure there is not too much slack in the rope, however. Moving in a trailer will cause the trailer to drop and could be dangerous. 

Use a quick-release knot on the lead rope to secure the horse. If you are using tow links, make sure the ties have a quick-release clasp. Close all trailer doors and make sure doors are secure and locked.

  • Pull your horse trailer for a few blocks and pull to make sure the hitch is still secure. Starting and stopping distances will be greater due to the added weight of the horse and trailer, so give yourself plenty of space between your vehicle. and the vehicle in front of you when on the road.
  • Drive five miles under the speed limit. Use signals when changing lanes and slow down to avoid accidents. Keep your forward motion constant so that you always keep tension on the hitch to avoid any loss of control. You must influence the trailer, do not apply the brakes of the vehicle. 

Apply the trailer hand control brakes in rapid succession to stop the trailer from swaying. Take laps slowly and regain your speed quickly after a lap. You should gradually increase your speed after turns so that your horse can adjust its balance and maintain its balance.

  • Use a lower gear when shooting up steep hills. If the hill you are uphill is long, slow down your vehicle and keep your speed down. Apply the parking brake to slow the trailer down when driving down steep hills. If the trailer should start to skid or jackknife then you will have to apply your vehicle’s brakes hard. 

Look in the rearview mirror and if the trailer is going in the opposite lane, the brakes help the trailer traction recover. Do not use the trailer brakes as they are more than likely what caused the skates to start. The wheels will have to regain traction for the trailer to straighten out.


Towing a horse trailer is not as easy as it seems, but you will get the hang of it with lots of practice. As long as you respect the towing capacity of your car, you will be able to transport your horses without any issues!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on How much towing capacity do I need to tow a horse trailer?

How big of a truck do I need to pull a horse trailer?

To pull a horse trailer, you will need a truck that can tow at least 5000 lbs (2270 kg). A horse trailer can weigh around 4000 lbs, but you will also have horse equipment, food and water onboard. 

Can a Chevy 1500 pull a horse trailer?

Yes, a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 can pull a horse trailer. When it comes to towing, the Chevrolet Silverado is the best option because, with the Max Trailering package, which is offered with both V8 engines, this pickup offers the best towing capacity in its segment.

Can a Chevy 1500 pull a 2 horse trailer?

Yes, a Chevy 1500 can pull a two-horse trailer. When it comes to towing, this truck has a maximum capacity of 12,000 pounds, this means that it can pull from a trailer with a couple of motorcycles and even a motorhome.

Can a Tacoma pull a horse trailer?

Yes, a Toyota Tacoma can pull a horse trailer, with one to a maximum of three horses. But even if the numbers are right, there are other things you must consider when towing a trailer with your Tacoma. 

What car can tow a horse float?

The following cars can tow a horse float without any issues: Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, or a Subaru Forester. 

How heavy is a horsebox?

Depending on the number of horses, a horsebox can weigh 12000 kg on average. You have to take into account the unloaded weight of the horse trailer, the weight of each horse, and the weight of feed, water, saddle, etc. 


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