What is the difference between a horse trailer and a stock trailer?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: What is the difference between a horse trailer and a stock trailer? We will explain the pros and cons of each type of trailer. We will also show you how you can convert a stock trailer to a horse trailer!

What is the difference between a horse trailer and a stock trailer?

The main difference between a horse trailer and a stock trailer is the size, the latter being usually larger, with a full rear swing gate or double back doors. 

​​

Otherwise, there is not much difference between a stock trailer and a horse trailer. Horse trailers tend to be more safeguarded with mats, partitions, and padding. Stock trailers have minimal stripped accessories. 

Some people interchangeably use a stock trailer as a horse trailer. Why? The simplest and most economical horse trailer is a stock trailer. They have an open bay interior for loading and transporting horses. 

Most are suitable for three or more horses with an elevation for loading in the rear of the trailer. Their lightweight steel frames with aluminum hulls, however, make them less stable or comfortable than a real horse trailer. Rust is the biggest concern for a stock trailer, as well.

The main differences between a horse trailer and a stock trailer

CriteriaHorse trailerStock trailer
Height (average)7 feet 6 inches6 feet 6 inches
Width (average) 7 feet6 feet
Door typeDrop down ramp or Dutch doors above the ramp on the rear and side Full rear swing gate with no ramp or double back doors with no ramps.
DividersSlant dividersStud DoorsExtra Stud Doors for box stallsOne to two gates that go from floor to ceiling
Assembly Double walled, insulated and rubber lined inside. 
Completely enclosed and weatherproofed. 
Windows that are placed 5 feet from the bottom of the trailer.
Single wall, no rubber liner, no insulation interior. 
Exposed metal that could be potentially dangerous.  
Floor typeSmooth and ribbed
Covered in floor mats.
A treadplate floor
 Corrugated or ribbed.

What to choose: a horse trailer or a stock trailer?

We have already presented to you the main differences between a horse trailer and a stock trailer. Now, let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of both types of trailers. 

Horse trailer VS Stock trailerAdvantagesDisadvantages 
Horse trailersA fully enclosed trailer with windows will keep your trailer cool and comfortable;
Much quieter and less stressful for your horse;
Top safety features — SafeBump roof, insulated walls, non-aluminum flooring, Z-Frame chassis. 
More expensive;
Much more difficult to (re)finance;
More difficult to clean and maintain;
Stock trailersA cheaper alternative;
Can transport more horses;
Easier to wash, clean and repair;
Increased chance of injuries ( gravel and other roadway debris can be kicked up by traffic and injure your horses);
No interior dividers to help with balance, it’s not uncommon for horses to fall down when riding in a stock trailer;
Temperature issues (winter/summer);
Noise from the road can be stressful for the horse(s). 

Can you convert a stock trailer to a horse trailer?

Yes, with just a few tools and lots of patience you can convert a stock trailer to a fairly respectable horse trailer. The more valuable to the horse, the more safety precautions you will want to take into consideration!

  1. Measure the length of the trailer from the inside front wall to the back lower. Each horse needs approximately six feet on a tilt load trailer. So if your trailer is 18 feet, three horses comfortably slanted the load.
  1. Hang the bungie’s every 6 feet, starting at the front and ending at the back of the trailer. These bungies will be used to tie up the horse in the trailer and still for the ride. Some people use one, others like to use two. Bungies are safe because they can break. The chains will not break.
  1. Place the racks face down on the floor of the common box. Stock trailers generally have metal floors making them easy to wash and clean. Horses get nervous when they walk on them and hear the metallic echo. The rubber mats muffle the sound and the horse as they ride.
  1. Add dividers if necessary. Some horses can ride next to each other without a problem. If you are going to be transporting a lot of horses, including horses that are not yours, dividers are highly recommended. Some common trailers have joints where you can insert the dividers. Other trailers you will have to get creative or grab at a tow shop.
  1. Make sure there is ventilation. Horses need air, especially when travelling, no matter what the weather.

Note: If you are using a steel trailer, have it checked for mould before converting, especially the ground. No matter what type of trailer, make sure the cables, lights, and brakes are working before taking on the road and hauling horses.

How to choose the best trailer for hauling horses

No matter if you decide to buy a horse trailer, a stock trailer (that you are later going to convert or not), it is important to keep in mind the following criteria:

  • A trailer must be maintained and stored properly. Any horse trailer must be serviced at least twice a year, more often if you are using it almost on a daily basis or if you are transporting more than one horse!
  • To guarantee optimum durability and increase the safety of the trailer, it is best to check a few important points and perform the right actions. When the trailer is immobilized for a long time, it is advisable to position it on chocks or jack stands in order to relieve the tires.
  • This solution is also to be adopted to carry out all maintenance work on the trailer:
  1. bearings: regularly lubricate the parts by removing the hub caps,
  2. wheels: check the tightness of the bolts,
  3. spare wheel: check its condition regularly,
  4. tires: regular inflation of the tires to ensure the safety of the coupling,
  5. brakes: replace them if they are defective,
  6. coupling: the drawbar must be in perfect working order and must not show any point of wear,
  7. trailer light: ensure the correct functioning of the lighting components without forgetting the condition of the connectors and wiring, remember to clean the cabochons periodically, even more often when the trailer is used for agricultural work. 
  8. registration plate: it must be correctly fixed and the registration must be perfectly legible.

Note: Regular inspection of the trailer’s parts and accessories does not dispense with checking by a professional.

  • In any case, you have to check if the vehicle has permission to pull the trailer. The towing capacity is indicated in the respective vehicle registration document. If you are not sure, it is advisable to ask the manufacturer or the sales agency of your choice. 
  • And with regard to safety, it is an essential requirement that the trailer has the rear signs that allow, both day and night, to give notice to other vehicles. In addition, the tire pressure must be checked and it must be known that the safety distance to the brake must be increased.
  • The horse should not be forgotten and, if long journeys are made, it would be advisable to keep fresh hay and clean water within reach of the animal. Likewise, it is recommended to be careful when going up and down hills and, above all, to drive thinking that you are carrying a fragile and delicate load.

The overhaul and maintenance of your trailer will give it maximum longevity and ensure good safety in use. By applying all the advice given in this section, your faithful working tool will perform its functions for many years!

FAQ on What is the difference between a horse trailer and a stock trailer?

Should I buy a horse trailer?

You should buy a horse trailer if you own one or more horses and you:

  • Want to participate in a tournament;
  • Need to regularly visit a vet clinic;
  • Want to go on vacation and need a way to transport your horse(s). 

How to maintain a horse trailer?

It is important to maintain and keep your horse trailer as clean and safe as possible, which can be achieved by fixing any problems you are having right away and regularly checking the trailer for any new faults.

How to customize a horse trailer?

A trailer can be customized for trail riding or horse shows with a few different pieces. There is no limit to what can be done to make towing a better experience for both horse and rider, it all depends on your needs.

What is a stock trailer?

A stock trailer is a type of trailer mainly used for the transportation of cattle, horses, pigs, and other farm animals. It is also known as a livestock trailer. 

References