The Best Trucks for Hauling Horses in Harmony
Maybe you are in the beginning stages of shopping for a new truck and trailer to haul your equine friends. Or, you may have decided it’s time to upgrade your current truck. Regardless of your truck-shopping stage, it’s perfectly normal to feel a little overwhelmed with the process and sheer number of options that are available.
While the options may seem vast, certain truck brands and sizes really are superior for pulling horse trailers.
If you’re feeling stuck, we are here to help! Read on for the features and benefits of some of the best truck brands out there so you can shop with confidence!
If you aren’t familiar with truck shopping you may have questions like “What towing capacity do I need?” or “Should I get a 4-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive?” You aren’t alone. We know this is a big purchase and you want to ensure you make the best decision possible for you and your horses.
The towing capacity of the truck you purchase is important because this is the maximum amount of weight that the truck can safely pull. The weight you are pulling is going to vary depending on the type of trailer you have, the number of horses you are hauling, and how much added weight is in the trailer along with the horses. You are going to want a truck that can safely pull the maximum weight your trailer can hold.
The question of 4-wheel drive versus rear-wheel drive also can feel confusing. With 4-wheel drive, your truck will have better traction control. This is better suited for bad road conditions, whether that be dirt, mud, or snow.
Rear-wheel drive means that the power is sent to the back wheels of the vehicle and is better for vehicles with higher engine power towing heavier weights.
If you live in an area with bad weather and think you will be driving or hauling horses in less-than-ideal conditions then a 4-wheel drive truck would be beneficial. But keep in mind—4WD trucks are more expensive!
When shopping for a new truck, you may hear the term ‘trim levels’ mentioned. This refers to the different models, features, and added conveniences that different trucks come with. Base models will have limited options, while more loaded packages will come with all the bells and whistles like leather, heated seats, upgraded sound systems, and fancier interiors.
Half Ton, ¾ Ton, 1 Ton Trucks
When looking at different trucks you may hear references to “tons.” This is not referencing the weight of the vehicle, but the payload a vehicle has.
Payload means the total weight that can be loaded into the truck and the bed safely.
- Half-ton trucks are known as light-duty pickups. These include the Ford F150, Toyota Tundra, Dodge Ram 1500, and Chevy Silverado 1500.
- Three-quarter ton trucks are considered excellent for heavy-duty use and these include the Chevy Silverado 2500, Ford F250, and Dodge Ram 2500.
- One-ton trucks are capable of pulling almost anything. Those in the one-ton class are the Dodge Ram 3500, Chevy Silverado 3500, and Ford F350.
When purchasing a new truck, you will want to know if it is a gas-powered truck or a diesel-powered one. Trucks that use diesel will tend to offer more torque, more towing power, and better gas mileage. Heavy-duty trucks are almost always diesel.
Light-duty pickups are usually gas-powered. They can be lighter, faster, and easier to handle.
Ford Truck Specifications
When comparing different models of Ford trucks, you’ll need to differentiate between a few different things, including cab size, bed size, and payload. Ford uses a pretty simple numbering system to differentiate between payload options.
The Ford F150 refers to a half-ton truck (with a 1,000 lb payload capacity). The F250 equates to a three-quarter ton truck, or 1,500 lb payload, and the F350 is a one-ton truck with a 2,000 lb payload capacity.
The F150, 250, and 350 come with three cab options. These include a regular cab, SuperCab, and SuperCrew cab.
- The regular cab will seat three people and is the two-door option which leaves 40.8 inches of headroom and 43.9 inches of legroom in the front.
- The SuperCab is a 4-door truck which can seat up to 6 people. It has 40.8 inches of headroom and 43.9 inches of legroom in the front with 40.3 inches of headroom and 33.5 inches of legroom in the rear.
- The SuperCrew is the largest cab which can seat six people as well. It will have 40.8 inches of headroom and 43.9 inches of legroom in the front with 40.4 inches of headroom and 43.6 inches of legroom in the rear.
When it comes to bed sizes, you have the options of a 5.5-foot bed, a 6.5-foot bed, and an 8-foot bed. The 5.5-foot bed is only available with the SuperCrew cab option. However, the 6.5-foot bed can be found with a regular cab, SuperCab, or SuperCrew.
The 8-foot bed option will only be available with a regular cab or SuperCab.
Dodge Truck Specifications
Similar to Ford, Dodge also uses a numbering system to differentiate between half-ton, three-quarter-ton, and one-ton truck options. However, Dodge uses 1500, 2500, and 3500 (just add an extra zero and you’re comparing apples-to-apples!)
Previously, the Dodge Ram 1500 came in a two-door regular cab option, but that has been eliminated with the newest Dodge trucks on the market.
Now, the Dodge Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 come in two cab sizes including the Crew Cab and the Mega Cab (extended version of the Crew Cab). All Dodge trucks now have a four-door design.
Bed sizes for the Dodge trucks are 6’4” with the Mega Cab and Crew Cab. An 8-foot bed option is only available with the Crew cab.
Chevy Truck Specifications
Just like Dodge, Chevy uses the same 1500, 2500, and 3500 numbering system to describe a truck’s payload options.
Chevy trucks come in three different cab sizes which include the regular cab, double cab, and crew cab. The regular cab is only available in the Chevy Silverado 1500 model and the new Chevy Silverado 2500 models.
The double cab and crew cab versions of all three truck models run very similar in cab size and both have four doors.
The bed sizes for the Chevy Silverado come in three size options. The short bed measures 5’ 10”, and is only available with the crew cab.
The standard bed length of 6’7” is available with a double cab or crew cab and the long bed length of 8’ 2” is only available with the regular cab (often described as a “work truck.”)
Sequence Matters: Trailer Then Truck
Although it may seem tempting to purchase the truck before the trailer, your truck size is going to depend upon how much you are planning to haul. You will need to know the size and weight of the trailer so you can choose a truck that will be able to handle that towing capacity.
Trucks are able to withstand towing a certain amount of weight based on their size and engine power. A lightweight truck will not be able to safely pull a large six-horse trailer with living quarters. That would be a recipe for disaster!
Before you can seriously begin truck shopping, you need to know how many horses you plan to haul. The weight of a loaded trailer will vary greatly from a two-horse trailer to a six-horse trailer. That is thousands of extra pounds!
Your next consideration when truck shopping is the type of trailer pull you have.
Trailers can be grouped into two categories based on the hitch style: gooseneck and bumper pull. A gooseneck trailer will attach to a hitch in the bed of the truck, while a bumper-pull trailer attaches to a hitch that sits just below the bumper. Each type of trailer will pull a little differently.
In addition to knowing the number of horses that will be hauled, you also need to know if you will be pulling a trailer with living quarters.
Usually, trailers with living quarters will almost always be gooseneck trailers, but a few bumper-pull trailers might come with a finished living-quarter area.
Think of a trailer with living quarters as essentially two trailers in one—this means a great deal of additional weight that needs to be accounted for when purchasing a truck.
As an example (generally speaking) you could pull a two-horse, bumper-pull horse trailer with a half ton pickup truck. If you’re pulling a gooseneck trailer, you’d better bump that truck up to a three-quarter ton. Adding living quarters? You’re probably looking at a one-ton truck.
|Truck Make & Model
|Comparative Price Point
|Dodge Ram 1500
|Dodge Ram 2500
|Dodge Ram 3500
|Chevy Silverado 1500
|Chevy Silverado 2500
|Chevy Silverado 3500 Diesel
The Ford F150 is a smaller, lightweight truck that may be preferred by someone who is not looking to haul a lot of horses. It is a good option for hauling one or two horses in a small trailer.
The F150 wouldn’t be the best choice for a gooseneck trailer or a trailer with living quarters.
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Gas-powered for someone that doesn’t want a diesel truck
- Enough towing capacity for small trailer
- Less cabin space than other truck models
- Can be a firmer ride
Where to learn more: https://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/
The Ford F250 is a step up from the F150 and has a larger towing capacity for someone that plans to haul more than one horse in a slightly larger trailer.
Don’t plan to have a six or eight-horse trailer with living quarters.
- Diesel or gas-powered options
- Capable of larger towing capacity
- Large cabin space for driver and passenger
- Less interior amenities than other options at same level
Where to learn more: https://www.ford.com/trucks/super-duty/models/f250-xlt/
The Ford 350 is a great option for someone that wants unlimited towing capabilities.
If you plan to tow a larger load of horses or a trailer with living quarters, then the Ford F350 is going to be a better option than other Ford models.
- Large towing capabilities
- Plenty of cabin space
- Expensive interior upgrades; most expensive of the Ford options
- Fuel efficiency can be costly
Where to buy: https://www.ford.com/trucks/super-duty/models/f350-xlt/
Dodge Ram 1500
The Dodge Ram 1500 is the smallest of Dodge trucks. It is a lighter weight truck and has the least towing capacity of the Dodge models listed.
It would be best suited for someone who is not planning to do a lot of hauling and will not be pulling a large trailer.
- Luxurious interior with plenty of technology features
- Lightweight (by truck standards) and easy to drive
- Option for eTorque mild hybrid engine
- Most fuel efficient half ton truck on our list
- Does not have a large towing capacity for big trailers
Where to buy: https://www.ramtrucks.com/ram-1500.html
Dodge Ram 2500
The Dodge Ram 2500 is a step up from the 1500 and offers a larger truck that is more capable of pulling a multi-horse trailer or a trailer with small living quarters.
It offers many of the same features as the 1500, but gives you the ability to tow more weight.
- Large towing capacity
- Excellent off-road abilities
- Plenty of cabin space
- High driving position
- Interior upgrades are pricey
Where to buy: https://www.ramtrucks.com/ram-2500.html
Dodge Ram 3500
The Dodge Ram 3500 is going to have the most power out of the three Dodge truck options.
You will have an almost unlimited towing capacity with this truck, which will allow you to tow large horse trailers with the comfort of a larger vehicle.
- Ability to tow almost any trailer
- Spacious interior
- Multiple configurations
- Quiet ride
- Rough ride quality when not loaded down
- Poor fuel economy
Where to buy: https://www.ramtrucks.com/ram-3500.html
Chevy Silverado 1500
The Chevy Silverado is the smallest model of the Chevy truck lineup, but is still preferred by many.
It has the ability to tow a small trailer, and is easier to handle than the larger Chevy models.
- Easy to drive
- Multiple engine options
- Multi-camera trailering system
- Best-in-class fuel economy
- More outdated interior
- Rougher ride quality
- Unable to tow large trailers
Where to buy: https://www.chevrolet.com/trucks/silverado/1500
Chevy Silverado 2500
The Chevy Silverado 2500 is a step up from the 1500, providing not only a larger truck but a much larger towing capacity as well. For someone that wants to tow a larger trailer as well as have a larger interior, the 2500 is a great option.
- Large towing capacity
- Gas and diesel engine options
- Maximum payload capacity
- Excellent safety features
- Trim upgrades are pricey
- Poor fuel economy
Where to buy: https://www.chevrolet.com/trucks/silverado/2500hd-3500hd
Chevy Silverado 3500
The Chevy Silverado 3500 is one of the most powerful truck models Chevy offers.
With its almost unlimited towing capacity and powerful engine, it is a preferred choice for someone that is looking to tow a large horse trailer or one with living quarters.
- Impressive towing capacity
- Great off-road performance
- 15-view camera system
- Large interior
- Doesn’t have the smoothest ride quality
- Very large truck so can be tougher to drive and handle
Where to buy: https://www.chevrolet.com/trucks/silverado/2500hd-3500hd
The Toyota Tundra is a mid-size truck that is a good option for someone that isn’t looking to tow a large load. It’s the only “foreign” model truck on this list: Chevy, Dodge and Ford are American brands.
The Tundra is manufactured in San Antonio, Texas, and is the only full-size truck made in Texas.
It has plenty of upgrades available and is a comfortable ride so could be ideal for the person that is planning to do plenty of long drives.
- Very comfortable for long drives
- Excellent camera views
- The Toyota brands is known for quality vehicles
- Does not have a large towing capacity
Where to buy: https://www.toyota.com/tundra/
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can a Ford F150 pull a horse trailer?
Yes, a Ford F150 can pull a horse trailer. The 2021 F150 can tow anywhere between 8,200 and 14,000 lbs depending on the engine selected.
Q: Can a Ford F150 pull a gooseneck horse trailer?
A Ford F150 can technically pull a gooseneck horse trailer if it is within the maximum towing capacity and payload restrictions.
You will need to have your truck equipped with the proper gooseneck hitch in the bed of the truck and ensure the weight distribution of the trailer is appropriate for the truck.
If you plan to pull a gooseneck trailer, a three-quarter or one-ton truck would be a better option.
Q: What size truck do I need to pull a 3 horse trailer?
The most important factor when determining the size of truck you need is to figure out the weight of the trailer and how much added weight will be in the trailer when loaded.
Your truck needs to be able to easily tow the weight of the trailer, horses, and any added weight.
Q: What is the 85 towing rule?
The 85 towing rule means that the entire weight of a loaded trailer should not exceed 85% of the curb weight of the truck that is pulling it.
Q: What is the 80/20 towing rule?
The 80/20 towing rule means that you should not exceed 80% of the maximum towing capacity of your truck.
Although truck shopping can feel quite confusing, we hope this review will help you determine the best truck to fit the needs of you and your horse.
It is important to take your time and consider all options when making a truck purchase so you find something that you will be happy with for years to come. Wishing you safe travels!
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