We Disagree About Trucks
(post by Jason) Melissa and I have a running argument about what is adequate in terms of a towing vehicle where horse trailers are concerned. She regularly points out to me that folks are hauling trailers the same as ours or heavier with what I consider extremely light duty and/or often very inappropriate vehicles such as F-150 or other half ton trucks. I feel such a truck is suitable for a small trailer going on short hauls in mostly flat areas, but outside of that scenario I personally want more truck, and I especially want heavier brakes. Most trucks can pull a trailer without issues, depending on the circumstances stopping them could be a problem. (Jason argues that our Duramax Diesel isn’t heavy enough to pull our two horse gooseneck trailer. I happen to disagree. He thinks a small Freightliner is appropriate for the job).
The other day we were at the vet clinic and Melissa pointed at a two horse steel trailer being pulled with a Dodge Durango (Melissa also pointed out she wasn’t going to haul her horse in that rig!). The Durango’s rear end sat so low that it must have scraped the road periodically and the front end was so high I couldn’t figure out how the driver could see the road to steer it. In my opinion that wasn’t nearly enough vehicle for the trailer it was hauling.
Melissa correctly points out that in Europe people haul horses around in euro style trailers (different from our North American trailers) with their VW Jetta’s, small SUVs and the like. Thanks to Canada’s high gas prices I had a VW Jetta diesel as one of my cars when I was selling feed. It got fantastic mileage….upward of 50 mpg…..and it was a peppy, well built little car. I put over 350,000 trouble free miles on it and I really can’t say enough good things about it. That said, I can’t imagine any circumstance in which I would feel safe hauling any horse trailer….or indeed any trailer of any sort…..loaded or not….with my VW Jetta. If I was hauling horses in Europe I’m confident I’d be showing Melissa into the cab of my 5 tonne Mercedes diesel or my 20 tonne Scania horse box (Melissa says let’s import the Scania horse box STAT).
I think there is much truth to the statement that one uses what one has and this is doubly so if what one has is paid for and what one wants is not. For a couple of years Melissa and I hauled horses to and from the vet in her two horse trailer with a tackroom, pulled with our paid for Chevrolet 1/2 ton. The key word in the previous sentence is paid for. The truck came with me from Ontario. When I bought it the only purpose it had was to haul me to and from the coffee shop, our local grain elevator or our local farmers co-op. I never intended it to haul trailers or any real weight….I would’ve bought something pretty different if that was the case. We made this vehicle work for awhile for very sporadic, very short hauls. Melissa thought that it really didn’t have enough engine or transmission to haul her loaded trailer up hills and I certainly didn’t think it had enough brakes to stop it adequately if one were going down hill.
We pretty quickly traded it in for a six speed manual shift Duramax diesel crew cab (Melissa again, I have to admit I liked my Ford Powerstroke diesel better than the Duramax). The Duramax likes to nickel and dime us to death, however it has enough engine power, braking power and a heavy enough transmission for our two horse trailer. If I were going to move up to a four horse trailer, or if I was going to be hauling any trailer some distance on a regular basis, I would be very tempted to step up the truck from a light duty 3/4 ton or 1 ton diesel truck to a medium duty Freightliner/International or something similar. I would definitely consider air brakes as well. These trucks aren’t any more money than a 3/4 or 1 ton and the design life is twice as long as a light duty truck.
I don’t expect this is an argument that we’re ever going to resolve, at least until I get my baby Freightliner, but I sure am curious as to the size of your trailer and what you haul it with. (Melissa here one last time: no I don’t see us resolving this any time soon. I stand firm that a 3/4 or 1 ton diesel truck is sufficient to haul a two horse trailer!).
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