Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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!).



Johnny and Clayton

Murphy, Dutch and Sam

Walon and Toledo having some playtime . . . 

. . . Donovan came over to watch . . . 

. . . and then he decided to join in the fun as well

Homer and Moe

Sebastian and Johnny

O'Reilly and Noble

Miss Lyle has not jumped out . . . lately

Rip and Ritchie

Bergie, Kennedy, Oskar and Donovan totally ignoring me as I called them for breakfast


Funder said...

I know this is a pretty unpopular opinion, but the current-gen F-150s *are* enough truck to tow and stop small 2h slants. I have a better truck/trailer ratio than a lot of my friends with one-tons and big goosenecks. I think the '08 and earlier really were toy trucks, but my '09 with the tow package does just fine, going over the Sierras, with or (eeek god never again I hope) without trailer brakes.

In two more years, when I've got the whole rig paid for, I'm going to love it even more, but for now it's entirely good enough.

(I would not tow anything bigger than one of those little rodeo trailers any further than the vet with an SUV.)

lytha said...

My horse arrived in a trailer pulled by a Toyota RAV4. I couldn't believe my eyes.

My Chevy 1/2 ton was enough to pull my 2 horse, but stopping was another issue. I still have nightmares about that feeling of not being able to slow down.

When I upgraded to a 1 ton I was in heaven, what a feeling of security!

Now everything is upside down and my dream rig is a Land Cruiser (50K Euros!). My realistic dream rig is a used Honda CRV. But God forbid I end up with a fiberglass German trailer. France and England have got some that remind me of American trailers, the Ifor Williams is my dream trailer (how my dreams shrink!). It gives the impression in a rollover accident, the horses wouldn't most certainly die.

Did you know the trailers here don't have electric brakes (nor brake controllers, obviously)? They have inertia brakes or something, activated by pressure on the hitch itself. They also have handles, like boats in America, becauase getting them onto a hitch is possible ...by hand.

I don't know if you read my blog last week where someone asked me to haul my horse somewhere with my Prius. With a straight face, it was not a joke.

I hope Aarene chimes in - she has the all-time winnning brake-malfunction-while-hauling story.

Anonymous said...

I've had two trucks and two trailers.

My first was a 4-horse Featherlite slant, with a F350 diesel with dualies and an 8-foot bed. Hauled just great, and the truck did well even when the trailer was fully loaded.

Now I have a 2014 F150 with the small EcoBoost engine, and a 2-horse straight load Hawk, which is a steel trailer and pretty heavy for a two-horse. I wanted a steel trailer for better protection for the horses in an accident. I thought I was going to have to get a 250, but was pleased to find that the Ecoboost plus a special towing package was good enough, and the combo hauls beautifully. My hitch is also a load balancer - a pain to hitch up - but much more stable and keeps the truck and trailer level.

I see a lot of inappropriate vehicle/trailer combos on the road. Safety - of the horses, you, and the other people on the road - has to come first.

Anonymous said...

I have an all aluminum Kingston, two horse. I pull it with a GMC Yukon Denali. It has the 6.2L V8.
Nine times out of ten, I only have our one horse in it. I have no "get up and go" or breaking issues.(lots of hills and mountains here) I love it!
One day, when my kids are grown up, I'll have a truck! :-)

EvenSong said...

My first two trailers were heavy-as-sin all steel rattle traps, which I pulled with an older (97?) HD Chevy 3/4 ton. Upgraded to a two-year-old 2005 3/4 ton HD GMC with towing package (which is now paid for, yay!).
Then moved up a few years ago to an all aluminum 3-horse slant. Have hauled that combo into the local hills a BUNCH, though on one particularly steep (and narrow) forest service road, three horses was a questionable choice.
Recently added a small, very light weight pop-up truck camper to the mix, for going to trail competitions, and so far am still okay, though that's been primarily just with only Kate in the trailer, and not too many hills.
Must say, I stopped at the local trailer dealer yesterday for a $5 accessory, and ended up spending a haf-hour drooling over their LQs (even the very smallest ones).

Anonymous said...

I pull our three horse Feather- lite goose neck with a 6 1/2 foot short wall with my beloved Duramax with the allison 6 speed tansmission I did not go all the way to 4-11;s I have the one up (3-83's)that tries to imporve diesel fule mileage.

I love the truck and I love the trailer.

we are trail riders. We talked to a lady pulling a Boomer ($100,000 trailer) with a freightliner. She said the truck is wonderful at getting stuck. And just OK out on the highway.

Everyone has their own opinion.

Love to "tune in' and see what your gang is up to.

Jane & Breezie