My Tiny House Horse Trailer

construction

Guest Post by Tom Hebert

In 2002, I designed and built this as a combination horse trailer and live-in camper. Come the Millennium and I could live in it. It is the only trailer designed and built in America to be pulled by a four-cylinder vehicle. I get up to 19 MPG on the road and it will go and has gone, just about everywhere a trailer can go. The design key to the design, is that it is a single-axle, which is actually safer than a four-wheel horse trailer because one takes care of the tires carefully. Most flats on horse trailers occur because folks don’t take care of the tires. And this rig is built stronger than other horse trailers. Plus after many thousands of miles over 13 years, my horse still loves to travel in it. Note the large window he can see out of while I can watch him to see that everything is okay back there.

design

The professional trailer design I contracted for.

As I said in my first email, the professional trailer design I contracted for. However,  I was prime contractor working with many experts. After months of sketching and research and conversations with horse trailer designers (who liked the single axle), I gave the designer a rough drawing of what I wanted, single axle, pasture fenders I could also stand on, a V front end for efficient air flow. Lots of ventilation because most trailers are very hard on horses, a big window up front (no trailer anywhere has one that I know of), and light enough that I could pull it with four cylinders. The dolly wheel up front I found at Walmart! The design is so stout that the manager of the Lippert travel trailer frame company here in Pendleton, studied the detailed construction plans that I got from Eldon Goates, of Synthesis Engineering Services, Inc. Colorado Springs. He then grabbed a pencil and cut out about 200 pounds of steel. But it is still more strongly built than most horse trailers. We travel down the road often at 65 mph. With only 80 pounds of tongue weight when empty, I can pick up the tongue to put it on the hitch and on a hard surface I can push the trailer around by hand. With only 200 pounds when loaded it is a dream to load up and drive. Plus I get great gas mileage with it. State Farm insurance costs about $40 a year. Of course, it is fully licensed and was built to state of Oregon trailer standards.

construction

I was prime contractor working with many experts.

The hitch load is so light, the trailer was so balanced, I was able to use the bumper hitch the truck came with. The white top is made from the same fabric used in open semi-truck trailer tops. Astro turf is better than heavy rubber mats and much easier to live in. Plus it is easier to keep clean. While my horse craps in the rig, horses will rarely piss in a trailer. They hate the splashing on their legs. We have traveled thousands of miles and I’ve slept in this rig probably fifty to a hundred nights since 2002.

turf

Astro turf is better than heavy rubber mats. Plus it is easier to keep clean.

hitch

The hitch load is so light, the trailer was so balanced, I was able to use the bumper hitch the truck came with. We travel down the road often at 60 mph.

on the road

Heading out to Canada from Pendleton, Oregon

DSCI1920

My typical camp set-up. We have traveled thousands of miles and I’ve slept in this rig probably fifty to a hundred nights since 2002.

My typical camp set-up. We have traveled thousands of miles and I’ve slept in this rig probably fifty to a hundred nights since 2002.

camp

In the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Oregon.

Hebert-Eagle Cap cabin ride

cowboy

Pushing cows

 

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Dottie - October 17, 2015 Reply

Wow–congrats on your trailer. So smart and clever.

    Tom Hebert - October 18, 2015 Reply

    Well, Dottie, thanks a lot. And Kent did a fine job of pulling together the photos and my many emails. The Blue Mountain Road Flyer’s development process was very correct. My working engineering construction drawings were terrific. The only changes and/or mistakes I would would suggest and corrected, were the plywood walls. Next time I would go with the pressed paper panels the DOTs and Federal Interstate highway systems use for road signs. They are resistant to anything but a truck wreck and don’t require occasional sanding and painting. My first set of tires didn’t last long. Turned out the axle needed to be bent by blow torch to give it the correct camber and toe-in. Who knew? The large plexiglass window scratched up early on. A new window made of automotive windshield stock was perfect. The original ugly rubber horse mats weighed well over a 100 pds. So on to bright green Astro turf! My first road trip was over 800 miles, with zero trouble. Yes I am a proud father. . . .

Eileen - October 17, 2015 Reply

Looks really practical. As I have never owned a horse, I am curious. It looks like most of what is in there, folds up and can be stored to provide more space. So forgive my ignorance but your horse travels in the trailer and sleeps outside at night when you are sleeping or stands beside you and sleeps?

    Tom Hebert - October 18, 2015 Reply

    Oh, no, Eusebio sleeps outside, staked out, in a corral, tied to a tree or to the trailer, whatever is handy. He loves to travel in the trailer. He trots right up to it and hops in. He likes to look out the window. And I can watch him watch the road, perhaps calming him. It’s also comfortable for him. Most horse trailers are designed for fabricators not the horses. I did a lot of research before planning. For example, most trailers don’t provide enough fresh air. Thus the internal air gets filled with biology that the horses breath out. The concentration of bugs rises and the horse can get sick. Also, most trailers run too hot in the sun. The Road Flyer thus has a trailer-long gap between the walls and top. I also talked with two horse trailer designers who were very helpful.

Ann - October 17, 2015 Reply

Your trailer design is very interesting. Do you have any photos of your horse inside the trailer? Any problems with the top flapping and scaring the horse at all? Do you put your camping gear in the bed of the truck then just set up after arrival and tie out your horse? Thanks for the info and sharing the design.

    Tom Hebert - October 18, 2015 Reply

    Sure I got lots of photos. S’my sweetheart after all (the trailer not Eusebio — he’s my partner in life since 2001). But I just checked. Oddly, no photos of him loaded in the trailer. Honestly, there is zero flapping with the fabric top. I used semi-trailer fabric top construction and so the system is very tight. This old top shows no wear. I’m surprised.

    Yep, all my camping gear goes in the S-10. Including a bale of hay when I will need it on the road. I got a system for all that of course. It takes less than 30 minutes to jump Himself, settle him, set up camp and start to cook if necessary. The camp site, as you can see, is very congenial and folks like to come over and share a bottle of cheap wine or a morning cup of joe (coffee).

Annie - October 17, 2015 Reply

How can I get plans for this trailer, as well as a list of what materials were used? I’d love to build one. What would plans cost?
Thanks,
Annie

    Tom Hebert - October 18, 2015 Reply

    Well, plans. Hmmm. I got them. I had elaborate plans at the beginning to manufacture these trailers and/or sell plans. Oh, yes. But it turns out I am an intrepreneur, not an entrepreneur. So nothing happened. But we should talk.

    Where are you located? Without giving away the farm, how best to communicate?

    Tom

Ayleash Gold - October 18, 2015 Reply

Love this post! And our ingenuity. And I too would love a copy of the plans. Best to my email: engnt2002 at yahoo dot com… I am in the Northeast of USA!

    Tom Hebert - October 19, 2015 Reply

    Ayleash, thank you for your kind words, but I think I stepped into trailer waters I ain’t prepared for. I don’t have plans for the trailer I ultimately built. I got all the marketing stuff done, but no plans.

    Tom

H.L. Dowless - October 18, 2015 Reply

How come a regular horse trailer would not work?

    Tom Hebert - October 19, 2015 Reply

    H.L,
    Regular horse trailers are built to haul horses, or a ton of hay, and the odd tractor. That’s it. You can buy, at great expense, live-in trailers with sleeping and cooking facilities. But to get real comfort there, you’re looking at 40′ of metal, much like a single-wide house trailer. Bet I’ve had more fun with mine than I would have had with one of them, even if I could afford one, which I couldn’t and can’t. And ordinary horse trailers are cold and unforgiving for sleep overs.

    But the Blue Mountain Road Flyer was truly designed, from the get-go, as a tiny house. Which is why this blog is so much fun for me. The Road Flyer is chummy, convivial, and cozy, C3. I got pictures on the wall, lighting for reading at night, a CD/radio player for my Jimmy Buffet songs. Heck, for years I had a Nation of Margareta flag on my flag pole. But deep in the Blue Mountains one day, because the cows had moved, I had to break camp and forgot to take down the flag! Broke my heart when I got to the new cow camp with no flag. A tree limb took it down. My new one is a pirate flag that reads, “Prepare To Be Broadsided.”

    So, my tiny house horse trailer requires a flag! When I set up camp, first I raise the flag and switch on the CD player and play Jimmy’s Meet Me in Margaritaville. But I ain’t ready for a glass of wine until I hang the little tin sign in my outdoor kitchen: Tiki Bar Open!

    Tom

Sk. - October 18, 2015 Reply

So glad you did this. I went the commercial route, and bought a BRENDERUP horse trailer. My Brenderup horse trailer was built in Texas. I’ve pulled it for almost 12 years with a 4 cylinder Ford Ranger and all my camping equipment, and a horse. 🙂 So glad to see someone else doing this as well. It too has a very light tongue weight, and I can move it by hand. My horse likes it too. It also has a large front window so I can see what he is up to while I am trailering.

    Tom Hebert - October 19, 2015 Reply

    Well, Sk, the Danish-designed Brenderups are very sophisticated, beautifully designed. I studied them. And you have had a bucket of fun with it. I can see that. You done good.

    But, but, it’s still a primarily a horse trailer that I couldn’t afford and they aren’t designed to live in. Today a 2011 Solo Brenderup will run between $8,000 and $10,000. The Flyer cost less than $4,000 in 2002.

    Also, I built it for back country trailering on rough Forest Service roads. Yes, your Brenderup would travel there, but it wouldn’t feel quite right. You would worry. Note the Flyer’s welded=steel pasture fenders I can stand on, that push aside 3″ trees. The outside frame is 4″ welded box steel, hell for stout.

    How do you live in yours? Tell us. Thanks again.

    Tom

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