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Pulling a Horse Around

Is there a minimum engine size needed to pull a horse trailer with one equine occupant? How would I find the towing capability of a truck that I’m considering? In your opinion, could the 2003 Ram 1500, 4wd handle it? It would only be very occasionally. Thanks a bunch!

The answer is “where are you pulling it and what engine/transmision combo?”

I pull occasional loads with my truck at work (1994 F-250, straight 6, manual transmission). If you are in a city or urban traffic area, then yes. If you are going long distance or in a hilly area, you may want to consider a 3/4 ton truck. You could rent if it is only occasional use.

Horse trailers have a lot of drag due to surface area. Also, one horse and a trailer is a load. You are going to shorten the life of your truck engine and transmission if you use it frequently or pull a serious load.

Others may disagree. My experience says think about a stronger truck. You can find your truck’s towing capacity on Autotrader or any other car site.

From net on 2003 Dodge Ram lines: Trailer towing capacities range from just 3050 pounds for a 3.7-liter V6 Quad Cab with 2WD and manual transmission, to 8450 for a 5.9-liter V8 Regular Cab with 2WD. A 4WD Ram with the 4.7-liter and automatic transmission is rated to pull a 7450-pound trailer with the 3.92 rear axle ratio. So those who need to pull trailers up to 8500 pounds will want to opt for the 5.9-liter engine. It delivers 245 horsepower and 335 pounds-feet of torque. The available 20-inch wheels reduce towing capacity by 1000 pounds.

Payloads range from a mere 1300 pounds for a 4WD Quad Cab with the 5.9-liter V8 to 1850 pounds for a 2WD regular cab with the 3.7-liter V6.

You’ve received a good informative post above.

What ever you finally decide to get, make sure it is NOT underpowered or has a ‘low number’ rear end gear ratio.

A rear end gear ratio in the mid range is usually best for torque and fuel mileage. Unless the loads are real heavy.

Do yourself a favor. By a Ford P/U. There is a reason why it has been the #1 seller for about 30 years. I think you’ll see that with any maker there is a warranty to consider when doing things like pulling a trailer. You might void the warranty if you don’t buy a towing package and something goes wrong after you may have purchaced a vrhicle without a towing package. I have 225,000 on a Ford truck, have maintained it routinely and have no desire to replace it. I’ve only had to replace clutchs and brakes.

My main concern for “undersized” truck is the BRAKING power. A half-ton can’t stop a steel trailer and horses inside if you’re trying to avoid an accident on the highway. My dad always says “take care of the things you can’t replace”, and while you can replace a truck and trailer, you can’t replace the ponies that are inside.

I had a half-ton Ford and it blew the engine hauling my trailer (steel 2-horse BP, one horse inside) on “flat” ground (no huge hills). But then again, I pulled regularly in the summer (every to every other weekend). Looking back, it was obvious that the trailer was too much for the truck. I now have a 3/4 ton Dodge diesel that pulls it like it’s nothing. I bought the diesel (as opposed to gas) because back then (sigh) diesel was cheaper than regular and the diesel engines last longer. A diesel isn’t necessary for my trailer, but the $$ in the long run was a consideration.

As other posters commented, it depends on where you live and the definition of “occasionally”. It also depends on whether you have a steel or aluminum trailer, gooseneck or BP.

Braking should not be performed by the pickup no matter what the size. A proper setup has trailer brakes(electric) that take care of stopping power.

The biggest issue with light trucks and load is that its a dynamic load in the rear. Horses move and a good setup you cannot tell, a shifty one you can tell and it can throw a vehicle out of balance and into a dangerous condition. Lighter trucks can work if they have proper sway bars to dampen the loads from the rear.

OP please price out outfitting your truck safely and go from there.