Years ago, almost all 2-horse trailers were straight load style, which means the horses stand next to one another, often with a partition dividing the right and left sides. In recent years, however, some trailer manufacturers have begun selling 2-horse slant load trailers, in which one horse stands in front of the other and there is a partition at an angle dividing the trailer into "front" and "back" halves. The recent popularity of slant loads does not mean straight loads don't still have their place. Before you buy a 2-horse trailer, consider the pros and cons of both styles to determine which is best for you.
Straight Load Trailers
When you have a 2-horse straight load, either horse can be unloaded first. You can also put either horse back on at any time. This comes in handy if you're trailering to shows and events and not renting stalls while you're there. You can keep the horses on the trailer between classes and not have to unload both of them in order to get one out.
Another pro of straight load trailers is that they give horses plenty of room to stretch out their necks. Often, there is a raised "hay manger" area at the front of the straight load trailer, so it's easy to provide your horse with something to much on without having to tie up a hay bag, as you would have to do in a slant load trailer.
Some horses are simply used to riding in straight loads, since this is a common older style of trailer. If you have an older horse, he or she may load easily onto a straight load, whereas you would have to spend more time getting him or her used to loading on a slant load because it looks different inside due to the different style of partitions.
The primary con to a straight load trailer is that when the trailer is in motion, it takes the horse a bit more effort to brace himself during starts and stops than in a slant-load trailer. This is typically not an issue if you're just trailering to local shows, but if you plan on taking your horse on long treks, a slant load may be more comfortable.
Straight load trailers also do not typically allow the horse the possibility of turning around to come off the trailer. Backing out is the only option, so if you have a horse that you know won't back off calmly, go with a slant-load since it allows for turning room.
Slant Load Trailers
Slant load trailers tend to be more open inside, since the partition is swung to the side until the first horse is loaded. This makes them less intimidating for young horses who are just getting used to trailering. It also allows you to turn horses around (at least the horse riding in front) and let them come out front-first.
As mentioned above, riding in a slant load is easier on horses' legs; they can brace themselves during starting and stopping more easily when they are standing at an angle to the road. Thus, slant loads are a good choice if you're hauling older horses with arthritis or other musculoskeletal issues.
Slant loads often have windows along their sides, so when you're at your destination and not moving, you can open the windows and let the horses look out. This is not possible with most straight loads.
The major con to a slant load is that you have to remove the back horse in order to get the front horse off. This is really only an issue if you're in a situation where you want one horse on the trailer and the other off. If you always take your horses on and off at the same time, then you won't find this to be a hindrance.
If you have a very long-bodied horse, you may find that the stalls in the slant load trailer are a bit too cramped. There's not a lot of room for longer horses to stretch their necks out in many models. If you want to give your horse hay for the ride, you'll need to tie up a hay bag, which takes up even more space in the stall. This is not a major hindrance with average-sized horses, but if you're hauling around big warmbloods, a long straight load may be a better choice.
Keep in mind that the pros and cons above are generalized. There are many different models of trailers out there. Some straight-loads may have movable partitions, making it possible for you to turn your horse around. Some slant-loads may be more spacious, allowing you to haul bigger horses. In general, however, you can rely on the features above as you decide which loading style to focus on in your trailer search.
For more information, contact a local trailer dealer that specializes in horse trailers.