Ask H&H: towing heavy horses

  • Q: Is it practical to tow two Shire horses to shows in a trailer with any car, or is this a lorry only job? I use my Land Rover Discovery for occasional towing at present and find it terribly slow going up hills.

    Depending on the combined weight of your trailer, horses and equipment, it may not be advisable to tow them with your Discovery. You will be breaking the law if you exceed the permitted towing weight limits.

    The combined weight of your horses, their equipment and your trailer could total around 3,750kg — 1,000kg for each horse, up to 1,500kg for the trailer, and another 250kg for kit — and this exceeds Land Rover’s 3,500kg maximum towing weight for a trailer with brakes.

    For this type of trailer, it is recommended by the Caravan Club that the laden weight of the trailer does not exceed 85% of the weight of your vehicle, which is likely to be around 3,000kg for a Discovery, and that you should never tow anything weighing the same as, or more than, your vehicle.

    You could also be exceeding the overall permissible weight for your car and trailer together. According to Land Rover, the maximum overall permissible weight for a Discovery 3 with a braked trailer is 6,730kg.

    Alternatives to the Discovery include the Range Rover and Toyota Land Cruiser. But whichever you consider, you must first work out the weight of your trailer, horses and equipment and check this against the manufacturer’s towing weight guidelines to ensure you will be within its limits. The latest version of the Range Rover can tow a braked trailer with a fully laden weight of up to 3,500kg, and the Land Cruiser up to 2,800kg.

    Even if you use a 4×4 with a larger engine and more pulling power, you may still come close to the towing weight limit, which can mean excessive engine wear and fuel consumption if you do a lot of trailer work. You may like to consider using a professional horse transport company to get to shows, or investing in a lorry.

    This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (26 October, ’06)

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