What Does GVWR Mean On A Horse Trailer

When you are shopping for a new horse transport vehicle, one of the most important features to understand is, what does GVWR mean on a horse trailer? GVWR stands for gross vehicle weight rating. This rating affects what type of truck you need to pull the trailer and how much you can load into it.

What Does GVWR Mean on a Trailer

GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating, refers to the maximum load the trailer can take. The rating figure is the empty weight of the trailer, plus everything you put in it. For example, if the GVWR is 3,000 lbs, it means that the maximum that the trailer can weigh cannot exceed that weight.

In reality, the GVWR figure will fluctuate. If you put one horse in the trailer, the figure will be lower than with two horses. The key point to understand is that you should never exceed the GVWR.

The GVWR is a rating set by the trailer manufacturer. The rating is computed by applying several criteria after the vehicle is built. Brakes, axels, stability, and materials all come into play when setting the GVWR rating. 

Why is GVWR so Important?

The gross vehicle weight has serious implications for horse trailer safety. When you hitch your trailer to a truck that isn’t suited to the fully loaded weight, you are asking for an accident to occur. You and your horse’s life is too precious to take the risk.

What Does Fully Loaded Mean

Fully loaded means the total weight of the trailer combined with everything on board. That is, the horses, tack, and feed. Whatever you put into the trailer must be accounted for towards the fully loaded weight.

Where to Find the GVWR Rating

  • Despite being so important, it can sometimes be tricky to find the GVWR of a trailer. When you’re shopping for a trailer online by looking at websites, GVWR is often not listed. Before purchasing a trailer, you need to know this rating!
  • If you cannot find the GVWR rating on the website, contact the dealer by phone or email and ask. Ideally, you should look at the trailer in person before purchasing it. You will find the GVWR located on the trailer.
  • It is often located inside one of the doors or on the trailer’s body itself. It is also found in the manufacturer’s manual. Always get the rating from the manufacturer in writing, never take someone’s verbal word regarding it.
  • Clarify the figure that is located in the manual or on the trailer. Sometimes the trailer weight is that standard empty weight before any extras are added. These extras include items such as mats, the spare tire, or an extra high roof.
Where to Find the GVWR Rating

Confirm the True Empty Weight of the Trailer

Bring your trailer without any horses or equipment onboard to a truck stop. Many truck stops have weighbridges and will issue you with a weight certificate for a small fee. If you subtract this figure from the GVWR, you will get the total weight that you can load the trailer with.

Different Trailer Types and their Weights

Here are some average weights you’ll find for different types of trailers. 

  • A basic two-horse trailer without a dressing area is 2,400 lbs
  • A gooseneck trailer without a living area can weigh 4,600 lbs for a 2 horse and 6,300 lbs for a 4 horse.

These are only examples. The weights will vary depending on each trailer’s specific features.

Read more about Average Weight of Horse Trailers

Vehicle Towing Capacity

  • The truck or SUV you used to pull a trailer will have a vehicle towing capacity. You can’t connect any old vehicle to your trailer. The vehicle towing capacity must match the GVWR of the trailer.
  • Vehicle towing capacity is the maximum weight set by the manufacturer that the truck can pull. When matching your vehicle with a trailer, you want to look at the braked towing capacity. This is because you will be towing something that has its own braking system. 
  • When shopping for a truck or SUV, ask to see official documentation of the vehicle towing capacity. Often a salesperson won’t be familiar with the specifics of pulling a horse trailer, and they could accidentally give you the wrong information. The hitch on the vehicle also affects the total weight a truck can pull.
Vehicle Towing Capacity

Safety Implications

  • Overloading a trailer or pulling it with an unsuitable vehicle can create major safety concerns. Because horses move during transport, they will put more pressure on your towing vehicle. This will cause more wear and tear.
  • To be safe, use a vehicle that has a towing capacity higher than the maximum weight of the trailer. Also, miss matching a truck and trailer will affect your maneuverability. Braking power also becomes an issue.
  • This is a scenario that you want to avoid. The least of your problems will be damaging the vehicle’s engine. The more dangerous situation that can arise is an increased risk of losing control resulting in a serious accident. 

Read about How To Tie A Horse In A Trailer?


CGVWR stands for Combined Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is another important figure to understand. The rating stands for the maximum combined weight of the trailer and its towing vehicle. 

You cannot exceed this total weight without safety concerns. For example, if the CGVWR is 10,000lbs and you add an extra person to the vehicle that weighs 175lbs, you will be over the weight limit. While 175lbs might not seem like a lot, any extra weight puts your safety at risk.

Keep Your Horses Safe

Not only do you need to follow weight and pulling guidelines, but you also need to implement safety measures for your horse. Only use quick-release safety ties to secure your horse inside the trailer. Put shipping boots or bandages on your horse and use a safety halter. 

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4 Tips When Choosing a Towing Vehicle

  • Use a weight distribution system hitch.
  • Longer wheelbases provide more stability.
  • Don’t use anything other than a full-size truck to tow a gooseneck trailer.
  • The vehicle curb weight should be at least 4,800lbs, and it’s better if it’s heavier.

GVWR Meaning

As you can see,  knowing what GVWR means on a horse trailer is not something to mess around with. A good tip to keep in mind is to use a truck that has a towing capacity 10 percent higher than the GVWR of the trailer. 

If you have any questions, comment below.

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