Posted Wednesday, Jan. 02, 2013
Today's luxury horse trailers with custom living quarters give a new meaning to "home on the range."
Those who live an equestrian lifestyle spend a good deal of time traveling and transporting, so having humans and horses under one roof provides ease of care, a stronger sense of security for horse and rider, and all the comforts and conveniences of home and stable.
Wayne Hodges Trailer Sales
4 Star Trailers and Outlaw Conversions, manufacturers
2209 Browder Lane
Elite Trailers and Trail Boss
1300 S. Texas 377
All the better if the trailers include designer touches such as leather ceilings and marble backsplashes, and technological upgrades like outdoor televisions.
We recently passed an afternoon at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth during the National Cutting Horse World Championship Futurity and explored the newest trends in upscale coaches and trailers. We found ourselves amazed at the sumptuous living areas, the thoughtful attention to detail and the commitment to equine safety.
ULTIMATE LUXURY: A MOTORCOACH
Fort Worth resident Julie Phillips and her 15-year-old daughter, Alyssa, are on the road a lot. Alyssa, who participates in three-day eventing competitions with her horse, Exploring, is a member of the junior Young Riders team. The Phillips' Equine Motorcoach is part of their team.
With a regular driver's license, anyone can pilot one of these magnificent motor homes built on a Freightliner chassis.
"With the in-motion satellite system, nondrivers can watch TV while traveling," Phillips says. "Kids can sit at the dinette and do homework. [Facilities] are usable. And, the coach will tow a trailer or a car."
Julie Calzone, co-owner of Louisville, Ky.-based Equine Motorcoach, says today's owners are asking for full-size kitchens, baths and showers -- "what's as close to home as possible."
"Close to home" means seating for nine on buttery soft leather sofas, banquettes and air-cushioned driver/passenger armchairs that pivot into the living space. Kitchens boast hardwood cabinetry, Corian countertops, double sinks, three-burner gas stoves, convection/microwave ovens, large refrigerators with ice-maker/water dispenser, and a 32-inch flat-screen TV. Because 12 feet of the coach bumps out, the living space is surprisingly roomy.
Designer elements, such as tumbled marble backsplashes, wainscoting and hardwood trim, upholstered valances, decorative lighting, skylights, slide-out shelves and etched glass doors, and polished nickel fittings, provide touches of glamour.
Luxury extends into bathrooms with full-size showers for washing off the dust at the end of the day, and a separate enclosure for toilet and sink. Washer/dryer combos are popular, as life with horses is dirty.
Four people can sleep comfortably on pull-out sofas and a loft bunk, although Phillips designed a separate bedroom, increasing the sleeping space to six.
Just outside, under the awning, a gas jet allows for a grill hook-up, right next to the 32-inch flat-screen outdoor TV. This feature, more than any other, may be the most popular with dads on the road.
"They set up cookouts, watch football, bond," says Phillips.
Each motorcoach is custom made and ranges from about $510,000 to $545,000.
"If we can engineer it, we can do it," says Calzone.
Don't think for a minute that the luxury doesn't extend to the horses.
The stall area is equipped with a camera to monitor horses during transport. Red LED stall lighting is included so horses can rest at night but still be visible on camera. An air-ride suspension cushions horses so they arrive at their destinations in the best possible condition. Climate control keeps horses comfortable in any weather.
Perhaps the most thoughtful feature is what Equine Motorcoach calls the "reverse load." A horse led up the ramp and guided to the right will swing his hind end into the stall first. This way, a horse stands facing the back, the direction most horsemen say a horse prefers to stand in a trailer. His face is positioned not at a window but at the aisle, which allows for fewer scary distractions.
Plenty of bridle hooks, saddle racks and blanket bars punctuate the walls or can be located in a separate tack room.
Calzone and Phillips agree the ultimate luxury is for owners to be beside their horses. The animals can stay on their schedules; there's no running back and forth between barn and hotel for feedings, braiding, icing and monitoring.
"Horses like it when their people are around," Calzone says.
TRAILERS WITH LIVING QUARTERS
If the horse owners already have a 1-ton pickup, perhaps all they need is a trailer with living quarters.
Legally, trailers may not be longer than 53 feet, but within this constraint, it's up to the owners to decide how much living space they'll require and how many stalls their horses need.
For living quarters, most customers request sophisticated Western decor, with lots of leather, say Wayne Hodges of Weatherford-based Wayne Hodges Trailers and Kristen Rose of RG Trailers in Pilot Point.
Leather adorns walls and ceilings, sofas and banquettes, even valances, all trimmed with decorative brass nail heads. Paisley fabrics and tin panels add to the upscale Western ambience. RG Trailers, which works with manufacturers Elite Trailers of Oklahoma City and Trail Boss Conversions of Bates City, Mo., adds horseshoe-shaped hooks over the door. Hodges installs hammered copper sinks for their rugged looks.
When Hodges began designing trailers, he asked his outfitter to look at the interiors of sailboats.
"There's not a wasted inch anywhere, and all the woodwork is top of the line," he says. Hodges' luxury trailers are manufactured by 4 Star Trailers of Oklahoma City and Outlaw Conversions of Stephenville.
Customers request hardwoods for kitchen and bathroom cabinetry -- whether maple, hickory or even the black walnut from Europe that a client requested of Hodges. Kitchens and bathrooms are compact but complete.
Trailer walls can be bumped out, too, and storage includes drawers, closets, pantries, wardrobes and hampers. Customers request sleeping quarters for four to six, including a king- or queen-size bed, which can be accommodated in the trailer's gooseneck.
Entertainment systems -- flat-screen TVs, satellite systems, exterior speakers and surround sound, CD and DVD players -- are must-haves. Track lighting and dimmer switches can enhance the mood.
Pampering extends to the horses. These are slant-load trailers, in which horses haul better, with mangers in front of each horse and drop-down windows so owners can water and feed them when they stop. Insulated roofs keep air temperatures regulated, and the rubber-padded walls and floor absorb shock. A separate tack room is provided, and hay pods perch on the roofs.
Hodges takes pride in the aluminum posts built into the tops of both sides of his trailers. This feature eliminates shaking as the trailer moves and keeps the trailer from collapsing onto the horses, should an accident occur.
Prices for these well-appointed trailers with living quarters range from $45,000 to $200,000, and they maintain good resale value, the company representatives say.
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