The History of the Modern Horse Trailer

Posted by John Brand on

I recently came across the remains of an old horse trailer at an old ranch in Sonora, California. It made me think about the history of the horse trailer and the many ways horses have been transported throughout the years.

The history of horse trailers is quite interesting.  Throughout history, horses were transported by ships, rail cars, and wagons pulled by horses, cars and trucks.

Pictured here in 1928, is a New Mexico man transporting his horse in a trailer with wooden slat sides.

In 1927, a German company named Westfalia, began building horse trailers and expanded their building to box trailers and camper vans. 

The Texas Rangers are famous for hunting down notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde in 1934.   Just after the great depression, the Texas Rangers continued their patrols with two rifles, car, horse, saddle, and a horse trailer as pictured below.

In 1940, Gene Autry and his faithful horse named Champion were super stars! They traveled from show to show in the fancy trailer shown below.

The modern trailer that we know today, has its foundations in the late 1950’s. One of the very first horse trailers appears to have been built around May of 1958.  A small two horse bumper pull was built by Stidham Trailer Manufacturing in Chickasha, Oklahoma.

Horses have always played an important part in our country’s history.  With the advance of vehicles, improvements in our road systems and greater affluence, the need to conveniently haul the horse grew.  People began traveling more, spending more time in equine activities away from the ranch or home and in the sport of trail riding.  The first two horse bumper pull was only 5’ wide, 9’ in length and 6’ in height. Compared to today’s trailers, the early trailers were very small.  Today’s trailers have widths up to 8’, heights of 8’ and lengths of stalls up to 12’, for larger draft breeds.   

In the 1960’s, as trail riding became more popular, the demand to conveniently haul horses increased as well. In the 1960’s several horse trailer companies began to build the two horse bumper pull trailer and supply that growing demand. In the 1970’s, this demand continued to grow. Versatility increased with the invention of the gooseneck horse trailer, also increasing by being able to trailer many horses at one time. To further cater to the horseman’s needs, horse trailer configurations changed from straight load to slant load to box stalls.

One of the most recent trends in horse trailers is the living quarters trailer. Living quarters allow a person to camp and sleep inside the trailer.  These trailers are often equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, televisions, and many more features. Most any layout is available, including full bathrooms and room slide outs.   

By the mid 1990’s, the horse and horse trailer industry had grown to a multi billion dollar market. Manufacturing companies across the country continued to improve on materials, quality went up and pricing became more affordable.

Today, horse trailer prices make it possible for almost anyone to provide safe and reliable transportation for their special equine friends!

Photo & Article Facts Credit:  Double D Horse Trailers

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