Which trucks can tow a horse trailer?

I am researching trucks. The styles confuse me because I don't know what the letters mean: SLT, HD (maybe heavy duty?), etc. I need a truck for pulling a horse trailer. What should I be looking for in the options?

Jessica, Lafayette, La.

Most pickup trucks with proper towing equipment should be able to pull a small trailer with one horse inside, but how much towing capacity you need will depend on how many are in the herd and the size and weight of the trailer you need to carry them.


The average large riding horse probably weighs around 1,200 pounds, and if a one-horse trailer weighs, say, 2,500 pounds, we would suggest you need towing capacity of at least 5,000 pounds. Why? If you load four 200-pound people inside the tow vehicle, you need to subtract that from your towing capacity. Ditto for the saddles, food, water and other gear you’re hauling.

If you have two or more horses, you will need a larger, heavier trailer. So add up all that you think you will be towing — trailer, horses, gear, people — and go from there. If you need more than about 6,000 pounds, you’re in full-size pickup territory. More than roughly 10,000 pounds means you should start thinking about a heavy-duty truck.

You shouldn’t buy more truck than you need, but it’s better to have too much towing capacity than not enough, so plan accordingly. Once you know how much you will be towing, check with different dealers to find the right tool for the job.

Don’t worry about letters like SLT because those are just model price-level designations. You should be asking about gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), towing capacity and maybe HD (heavy duty). Our partners at PickupTrucks.com can get you started. The Cars.com Vehicle Recommender can help you find pickups that meet your towing needs as well as your price limits and desired features.

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Answered by Rick Popely on March 8, 2012 in What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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