By: Tracy Hanes
Some well-known coaches and competitors give us a peek inside their trailers, pointing out their special features and how they suit their particular needs while on the road during the busy show season.
Jaimey and Tina Irwin
Grand prix dressage riders/trainers Jaimey and Tina Irwin of Stoney Lake Equestrian in Stouffville, ON, like the flexibility their Four Star head-to-head four-horse gooseneck trailer provides. Horses can be backed in or walked in via the back or side doors and “it’s really inviting. Most horses walk right on,” says Tina.
The bottom partition between horses can be taken out if a horse likes to stand with a wider stance. If less than four horses are aboard, the trailer can be easily converted into three box stalls – a plus if they are travelling long distances such as to Florida and Kentucky. With two horses, they can convert to two box stalls and a storage area.
The Irwins had the trailer custom built 10 years ago and elected to have the windows at the horses’ heads left out, instead having plenty of lights installed around the trailer, including at the side ramp and rear door to make for easy loading and unloading after dark. Rather than mats, they opted for a spray-on floor that can be easily pressure washed. The trailer has a generous tack room equipped with saddle racks and they keep all the necessities for horse showing on the road – buckets, tents, fans, broom, shovel, rain jackets, hay nets, folding chairs, tarps and extra hay nets – in the trailer year-round.
The newest and one of the best features, says Tina, is a camera they installed that allows them to monitor the horses from within the truck. “It’s the same kind of camera they are using in cars so people can see when they are reversing.”
Ian Roberts and Kelly Plitz
When veteran event riders/coaches Ian Roberts and Kelly Plitz of Dreamcrest Equestrian in Port Perry, ON, head off to a horse trial with several of their own mounts and a group of their students’ horses, they hit the road in a 15-horse, 2001 commercial trailer custom-made by Doyle Manufacturing of Dundas, ON. It has gleaming stainless steel sheeting on the exterior, and inside are oak-lined walls, floors, and partitions. The moveable partitions provide flexibility in creating standing stalls of two different widths, or box stalls for when fewer horses are on board. The air-ride system gives horses a smooth and comfortable ride – even water buckets won’t spill – and large, ample windows provide lots of light and ventilation. “If we’re going on a long-distance trip (such as to South Carolina or Kentucky), I can store hay on the trailer roof, rather than inside the trailer where it might create dust issues,” says Ian.
The trailer is hauled by an 18-speed 2002 Freightliner Argosy. It’s a commercial vehicle, so the driver (usually Ian) must hold an “A” license. It’s equipped with a large tack/storage area, sleeping quarters and camera system for keeping an eye on the equine passengers.
Rider/trainer Erin Howard of Quaker Valley Stables in Uxbridge, ON, transports her mounts and those belonging to her clients to hunter/jumper shows in a customized four-horse head-to-head Jamco trailer. The trailer belongs to Quaker Valley owners Sue Murdoch and Phil Schwab, who are avid field hunters and had the aluminum gooseneck trailer custom-built to suit their needs. As they often have to pull over at the side of country roads to unload their horses where there are steep ditches, they had the side door and ramp placed on the opposite side than is usual, so horses can get on and off via the left-hand side of the trailer.
The tack room at the front holds tack trunks, folding chairs and the compact bar fridge that goes along to shows around Ontario or when Erin and clients head to Florida for the winter. It also is equipped with an on-board tank and pump to provide a water source. “We usually rent stalls at horse shows, so the horses have water buckets there, but the pump comes in handy if you are out for a ride and want to hose the horse off afterwards,” says Erin.
And for the very well-heeled….
… there is the Equine Motorcoach, with a design fashioned after European lorries that is now being manufactured in North America. A well-outfitted 4-horse model runs about $499,000(USD) up to $540,000, depending on extras and amenities. “We have a lot of interest and have several Canadian competitors who have visited us on the road,” says Julie Calzone of Equine Motorcoach. “The distances and time they spend on the road make it a good fit.”
Mere mortals are welcome to take a look at www.equinemotorcoach.com.