Gooseneck Horse Trailer Shopping – Buying Tips and Checklist

If you’re trailer shopping, you may be trying to decide whether a gooseneck horse trailer is the right type for you. GN trailers are definitely the preference for many who need expanded hauling capacity and greater stability.

Commonly designed in 1-horse to 8-horse configurations, you’ll see veteran horse transporters pulling larger goosenecks loaded with 14+ horses.

4 horse gooseneck horse trailer

The number one goal when you haul a horse is the safe arrival of you and your horse at your destination. When you need to haul multiple horses, you will find that your safety concerns become amplified. When the safe transport of three or more horses becomes a concern, then your choice of the proper horse trailer for the job becomes paramount.

Gooseneck Trailer Weight – Can Your Truck Pull It Safely?

Never underestimate the importance of selecting the right horse trailer and towing vehicle to handle the rigors of hauling large numbers of horses; your life, and theirs, may depend on it! When transporting any number over two horses, the choice of a gooseneck horse trailer and appropriate truck puts an added measure of safety on your side.

When deciding on capacity, size and weight of the trailer, a key factor depends on your tow vehicle. Your lightweight pickup may work fine for hauling your horse in a bumper pull. But say you now want to upgrade to a 3-horse gooseneck trailer and weight. If you cannot upgrade to a heavier truck, that may be a deciding factor.

Is your tow vehicle suited for the weight and payload?

The difference in the weight of a rig and suitable tow vehicle progresses as you increase load capacity. The truck that tows a short gooseneck horse trailer such as a 2-horse or 3-horse may not be adequate to haul a gooseneck configured to carry more horses, fully loaded.

Gooseneck Horse Trailer Hitch

Coupler tube on gooseneck trailerThe hitching mechanics of bumper pull horse trailers and gooseneck horse trailers are vastly different. The truck you use for the gooseneck trailer arrangement must have a ball installed inside the bed. The coupler tube (vertical horse trailer tongue) is lowered down over top of the ball in the back of the truck and securely fastened.

This type of hitch arrangement affords much better stability for heavy loads versus a bumper pull hitch. The improved stability is directly correlated to much better weight distribution spread over top of the truck’s rear axle.

Let’s Examine the Benefits of the Gooseneck Horse Trailer

In addition to overall safety, the gooseneck is a popular choice for other reasons:

  1. Many gooseneck trailer owners feel that this style of horse trailer is much simpler to maneuver. Goosenecks can turn tighter, and as a result, they can be guided into smaller spaces with typically less effort than bumper pulls.
  2. Due to the stability of gooseneck horse trailers, they can handle much more weight. This higher weight capacity comes in handy, not only for hauling more horses, but also the fact that it can accommodate lots of extras like feed, hay, shavings, tack, additional water, wheel barrows, water hoses, camping gear, stall curtains, tables, chairs, etc. The ability of the GN to handle much more weight as to horses and equipment, versus a bumper pull horse trailer, makes this choice a smart one for many people.
  3. This style of trailer removes most trailer sway concerns. Since the gooseneck design is much less susceptible to trailer sway and fishtailing, the result is a much smoother ride for horses and humans. It is difficult for horses to keep their balance while a trailer is moving, even under the best of circumstances. Gooseneck trailers are an excellent choice if you want your horses to arrive fresher, versus being exhausted from trying to keep their balance in a less stable type of trailer. Additionally, the greater stability afforded with the gooseneck horse trailer can also be very beneficial to horses that are nervous travelers, or new to being hauled.
  4. The abundance of storage area available in the GN horse trailer is a definite advantage to some trailer owners. Not only can this type of trailer accommodate a large tack area and dressing room, but there is also additional area in the nose of the trailer that is above the coupler tube. Some people use this upper front storage zone to make a sleeping area for overnight trips.
    Gooseneck trailer top storage example
  5. Gooseneck living quarters trailers – unlike bumper pull horse trailers, a living quarters (LQ) compartment can easily be added to the gooseneck trailer. The sky’s the limit for what can be done. You can even add slide outs to further expand your living quarters area, if that is your desire.
    Gooseneck horse trailer with slide out living quarters
  6. Goosenecks generally afford an easier and smoother towing experience for the driver in comparison to pulling a BP trailer.
  7. A gooseneck horse trailer has much more ground clearance than a traditional bumper pull horse trailer has.

What Are the Disadvantages of the Gooseneck Horse Trailer?

So now we’re thinking that owning a gooseneck sounds like a little slice of heaven. So here comes the bubble burst! Even though gooseneck trailers have a lot of seriously appealing features, there are several challenges tied to GN trailers that must be considered in the overall picture:

  1. A gooseneck horse trailer almost always comes with a higher price tag than a bumper pull type. Due to its larger size and overall design, there are more construction materials required in the manufacturing process of a gooseneck trailer.
  2. Goosenecks typically translate into added fuel and maintenance costs due to their larger size and weight. As mentioned earlier, an added cost to the gooseneck option could be generated by the need to buy a larger towing vehicle than what you may already own.
  3. Storing a larger gooseneck trailer can be much more of a challenge as compared to its smaller bumper pull cousin. The gooseneck will require more room in the yard or horse lot when it is not in use.
    1 or 2 horse gooseneck trailer
  4. Due to a turning radius that is much tighter than bumper pull horse trailers require, there can be a tendency to cut corners short. Careful attention must be employed when turning with a gooseneck trailer so that you don’t hit another vehicle, or damage the fender on your own trailer. Some people do not feel comfortable dealing with this aspect of pulling the GN horse trailer, and feel intimidated by the thought of hauling one due to this characteristic.
  5. If you have a breakdown during travel with this type of trailer, your options for finding someone else to come hook up and tow it somewhere for you can be somewhat limited. You will be forced to rely upon someone with the same type of gooseneck hitch that you have.
  6. Unless you use a gooseneck hitch plate ball that can be “hidden” or reversed, you will lose room in the back of your truck due to the gooseneck ball hitch being permanently mounted in the back of the truck bed.
  7. Since trailer licensing is directly tied to weight, owning a gooseneck horse trailer creates a much greater chance of falling within the commercial parameters under the DMV rules. If your trailer must be licensed commercially, then you will have to meet special requirements, and pay more money for tags and licenses.

Make Sure GN Trailer Sits Level with Tow Vehicle

When hooking up, pay special attention to the horizontal orientation of your gooseneck horse trailer in relation to your tow vehicle. If the trailer doesn’t seem to be level when lowered onto the ball, then adjustments might be needed.

There are generally two different ways to adjust and level the trailer and truck. The first option is to adjust the neck of the trailer. On some models, the coupler tube cylinder can be lengthened or shortened by loosening the bolts that are located on the coupler tube and moving the cylinder up or down to either shorten or lengthen the neck. The next step is to re-tighten the bolts.

The second option to make your gooseneck trailer ride level is to have the tow vehicle suspension system adjusted to raise or lower the vehicle. Be aware that modifying the suspension system will probably make your truck feel and handle a little bit different as compared to the original setting.

Adjust the gooseneck trailer to ride level with tow vehicle

Whenever adjustments are made to either the towing vehicle, the trailer, or the gooseneck hitch, you need to double check the work and make certain that the trailer cannot interfere with, or crunch the tailgate, or side rails of the truck. Some people even remove their truck tailgate and replace it with something else; such as mesh or netting.

No matter which way you choose to remedy the situation, be sure to have the work performed by a professional who has extensive knowledge in this area.

Is a Gooseneck the Right Trailer for You and Your Horse?

No matter what type of trailer you ultimately decide to purchase, remember to match the trailer and tow vehicle to your “real” needs. Gooseneck horse trailers can certainly capture your imagination, especially the ones with all the “bells and whistles,” but remember to be realistic about how much you will use it, how many horses you will routinely haul, and where you go with it.

Are you a weekend warrior going to an occasional trail ride, or a seasoned road veteran who travels all over the country spending large amounts of time pulling a trailer?

Stock type gooseneck horse trailer example

Do you need something new, or would a good, solid used gooseneck horse trailer do the trick? Do you need a straight load, or would your horse ride better in a slant load? Step up, or ramp? Also consider a gooseneck stock trailer versus enclosed.

If you’re able, sometimes the best solution can be to hang on to your favorite tag-along and buy a gooseneck.

Always remember, the more research and legwork you put in up front answering questions such as these, the better the chances are that you, and your horses, will have many happy travel miles together in the future.

Find Horse Trailer Dealerships Near You

If you are new to trailering, your local horse trailer dealerships are generally very knowledgeable and can assist with gooseneck horse trailer weight / capacity / towing requirements. They will also be able to show you features and options that are hard to visualize without seeing and walking into the real thing.

Visit our growing Trailer Directory for a list of horse trailer dealers in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC.

Back to our Guide to Horse Trailer Types