Which is safer step up or ramp? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Which is safer step up or ramp?

Hi all,
I am still in the market for an aluminum bumper pull trailer-2 hors max. I know people have their own preference and/or opinions. Are step up trailers safer than a trailer with a ramp?
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post #2 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: California
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I've used both and I like a step up better.

I'm not sure about safety, it might depend on what kind of animals you are moving, how they are trained, and other preferences you may have.

I've seen horses get hurt on trailers with ramps before, but so far haven't seen injuries caused by step up, though sometimes I've seen the horse stumble or slip going in and out they never fall down with the step up it seems.

I'm not a trailer expert but that's how I feel!
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post #3 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Lansing, Michigan
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I have had far less problems loading horses into step-up trailers, rather than trailers with ramps. It is purely preferential, I wouldn't say that either is safer than the other. With my horses at least, they get a lot more hasty about unloading off of a ramp and will back out much faster than with a step-up.

Toofine - 1998 Half Arabian
Minnie - 2013 Morgan
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post #4 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 12:38 PM
Green Broke
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Location: Ontario Canada
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I have had both step up and ramp trailers but I have to say that I do prefer the step up especially if loading and travelling alone. I like the step up trailer with two back swing doors so you can load one horse, do up the butt strap then shut that half at the back and then load the other horse and not worry about the first horse wanting out as the door behind him is shut. You would still have butt straps behind but the shut door makes it better to be loading the other horse while one is standing in the trailer.

I also find it easier to self load, unload with a step up but have done it with both.

With the ramp the horse has to back straight out as it could step off the side of the ramp and scrap a leg up on the edge of the ramp.

On the other hand I have seen a horse slip when hesitating at a step up and the hind leg slide under the trailer and I thought for sure the horse would injure itself but nothing happened as he straightened out.
Sometimes when first backing out of a step up the horse is frightened when it backs up and drops down to the ground but they do learn to deal with that with practise.
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post #5 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 01:25 PM
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I have both.
I find horses who load well go in and or up the ramp no problem.
I find a horse who is hesitant or has issues may not like the feeling of "bounce" a ramp gives to many..
My step up is my go to trailer and I use this more than the other one, step-up is also larger in capacity.
My step-up trailer sits on 16" tires and although that not sound a lot higher than a 15"...my entire trailer sits higher on suspension too so when looking take that into consideration for loading ease.
I can load my horse{s} and put them into a stall and close the butt chain/bar so they are contained and not leaving easily.
My trailer is a 4 horse with dedicated straight stalls in front and then a slam gate to separate sections and a open area in trailer back for 2 more to stand straight or slanted if they wish but no horse can kick or bite the one in front/back with trailer design. My trailer also can be totally opened and the horses just tied body next to body.
A step up trailer as mine is has a full swing rear door so I can have many uses for my trailer if needing say the lawnmower to the repair shop.
I do not do small door opening like you get with slant load rear dressing room layout or center rear beam cause if you have a difficult loader, many will not pass through a narrow opening going in forget if they touch it coming out....no, just no!!
I've taught all of my horses to unload slowly and they do listen for my words, "Back, Easy, DOWN" when it is time to step down they are told it...they also tip-toe in reverse feeling for, and we stop completely at the point of next step is down.

What I would suggest when looking for is for you to step in and out of several trailers yourself pretty quick as you will be leading both directions and need to get out of the way...
My must when trailer searching is it must have a full escape door in trailer front for your safety...no negotiating on that detail!!

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 01:31 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT USA an English transplant
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I hadnít ever seen a step up ramp before we came to the US but the 3 horses we brought here had no questions when asked to go on and off.
I do have a step up now but when I replace it Iíll be looking for a rear ramp load with a wide front ramp unload
Probably because itís what Iím used too, but I do find them easier to use

Just winging it is not a plan
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post #7 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 01:37 PM
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I think it's all personal preference. I prefer a ramp, but they have their drawbacks. For instance, the ramps tend to get kind of water logged and extra heavy over time which can make doing things by yourself difficult. We put a winch in the back of my trailer to help with raising the ramp when I injured my back and that solved that problem. Keeping fresh springs on the ramp can help with that too, as the springs get older they stretch out and don't help hold the ramp as well as they should.

I turn most of my horses around head first to unload, and we practice stopping at the top of the ramp. They learn the "Step" command and take a step when I do, so don't unload in a hurry. If a horse is being a bit of an idiot for unloading, I'll make them back out, slowly, one step at a time and reload every time they try to rush.

I've not had a horse launch off the back of the trailer with a ramp but have seen that, both forwards and backwards off a step up, but again, it's all about training.

So my advice is to go look at both, as many different configurations as you can find, and pick what you like. Practice YOU stepping up into the back of the trailer numerous times (some of them are HIGH and hard to step up into if you're short) and walking up and down ramps to see how you like both. Pick what you like, the horse will adjust. Practice lifting the ramp and see if you can do it by yourself. I have the kind of ramp that the bottom half of the back door is ramp and 2 dutch doors up top. If I ever buy another trailer I will look for the kind with 2 full length back doors and a short ramp that folds up over the outside when the doors are closed.

The first pic is the old style ramp & dutch doors like I currently have and the 2nd is the newer configuration I would buy if I needed a new trailer. I notice that the Logan in the 2nd pic's ramp is quite a bit longer than most of the ones I've seen. I think I'd prefer a shorter ramp, less weight to lift.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Old style ramp and dutch doors.jpg (144.3 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg New Logan with Ramp.jpg (376.9 KB, 4 views)
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post #8 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 02:06 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: MD
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I prefer my step-up, was never really a fan of a ramp but I know some people love them. Just personal preference really.

Ride more, worry less.
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post #9 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 02:48 PM
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I have a single horse step up, it's someone's homemade rig from the 70's and we have been able to use it in such a way that it is safe, but they're are some caveats.

1. Loading/unloading on concrete/asphalt I think there's a higher chance of slippage and injury vs finding something with a ramp.

2. When Nick was getting the hang of it he scraped along his back leg once (no injury just a little fur) which I could not see happening with a ramp.

The upsides is it's fast and easy to load/unload and close. Pee drains out through the crack (my horse is weird and likes to relieve himself in the trailer) really easily. And unloading and loading on slightly unlevel ground with potholes etc is functional whereas with a ramp it helps to have a fairly level ground and you need more space for unloading.

I have heard good reasons for a ramp trailer ie:

"My horse gets frightened when the cieling comes up too fast."
"Its safer to loading with a ramp when it's wet out" (I think this one applies to a well rubberized and textured ramp)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg received_420629392119160.jpg (65.4 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg received_2453402681359632.jpg (81.1 KB, 5 views)
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post #10 of 43 Old 07-08-2019, 03:54 PM
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Location: Seattle, WA
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Nick is saying, "Can we go somewhere?"
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