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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm thinking about trading in my 2017 Outback and upgrading to an Ascent. I'd like to be able to haul my trail mule to nearby rides, and just don't need a truck for any other use. The weight of the equipment is approximately as follows: Maverick Lite Stock Trailer: 2000lbs, One Mule: 900 lbs, water, tack, food, and misc: 500 lbs max. Total: 3400lbs. I know it's not a static load. If someone wanted to haul a second horse with me, I'd insist we use their truck. Hauling two moving horses with an Ascent feels like a bad idea; but what about only one?
Anyone out there hauled an equine? What are your thoughts?

Haven't bought the trailer yet, but I'm thinking about a Maverick BP Lite Stock Trailer. The system wouldn't allow me to add it to my first post here. Maybe it'll let me add it as a comment.
 

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I haven't towed horses, but my Ascent has hauled a U-Haul trailer (lighter than your load) and a camping trailer (a little heavier than your load).

We see a bunch of 5000 lb-rated suv's pulling single horse trailers to our riding barn and shows (we ride, but the barn takes care of towing to shows). Some are towing larger trailers, clearly at their own peril - but they are doing it. The vast majority tows single and multi-horse trailers with rated pickup trucks.

We can tell you about towing with the Ascent, but you'll have to check out horse forums to answer some critical questions (and even better, getting live advice from someone towing similarly to your needs). E.g., how much can/should the mule move around? Stabilize with walls, but how closely? Tie up the harness, but with panic release? How much slack? I don't know any of this, and it affects your tow.

First, your target Ascent model must have the higher rating of 5000 lbs max tow load and 500 lbs max tongue weight. There are lower models with a lower tow rating, so be careful which model you get. Note that tow packages are add-on options. Get the OEM option, not an after-market.

A big consideration is tongue weight. You can't exceed the Ascent's max of 500 lbs, yet you must have 10-15% of total tow weight on the tongue (minimum 340 lbs for your numbers). Less than 10% on the tongue creates a tail-heavy situation that can result in trailer sway. And while no one with a fixed load wants sway instability, your movable animal really cannot have sway (super dangerous for the animal and everyone, plus a movable load worsens sway).

As for forward/back, you'll need to find out how movable he is. If you can get 340 lbs tongue weight with him pushed back, and less than 500 lbs with him pushed forward, you should be good. But that's hard to do if he isn't restrained enough, and I don't know what the best practices are for restraint. Again, I haven't towed a horse, but I've loaded a few of them into trailers, and they always pack into a horse-sized walled-in space that doesn't let them move much, yet they seem to have enough room to move their legs some and balance against light braking etc. But do they lean into a wall for turns? I don't know. Clearly there is a wealth of best practices, available to you somehow.

Again, I think it's best to ask someone who tows mules/horses. My experience with people at the barn and shows is that they don't really know any numbers, having towed "this way" for a while. So you'll need to find a nerd in the crowd, or someone relatively new to it who had to think through setup recently, towing something similar.

Note that you cannot use weight distribution hitches or any extraneous mechanisms on the Ascent. It has its own stabilization system that gets screwed up by anything additional beyond the ball and hitch. Doesn't matter what a trailer dealer or experienced tow person says - don't use them on a Subaru Ascent.

I hope that helps.

F.S.
 

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I have horse towing experience. I believe you will be fine with the rig and load you specify and also agree with you to turn down hauling a second animal at the same time. You will be well below the 5000 lb/500 lb tongue weight limit for an Ascent properly equipped for towing. (Premium, Limited, Touring) I do suggest the OEM hitch receiver for your application for sure. I did tow a lightweight two horse with my Grand Cherokee and while it was ok for local and very occasional hauling, it wasn't ideal. Ascent is actually setup a little better relative to tongue weight within its specifications...the WDH was NOT optional for the JGC due to weight balance of tongue weight between the axles.

Do be aware that you are going to get the "hairy eyeball" from many other equine enthusiasts relative to your rig... ;) :D
 
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That user pushes things, IMHO....but yes, he does pull it successfully. It's not a lightweight trailer for sure and the total is well above 80% of vehicle maximum which can get "interesting" with a live load.
 

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I pull a Mustang with mine :D

3402


I'm just over 4,500lbs here.

You should be fine.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks so much for your replies; this forum is a godsend to ask questions BEFORE I buy. I'll be poking around in other areas asking more.
Agree completely with Jim in PA about the hairy eyeball. Heck, folks at my trail club get that if they aren't using a 4WD dually! Having a mule labels me as slightly eccentric anyway; I'm used to it. :giggle:
 

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I'm just over 4,500lbs here.

You should be fine.
It's important to understand that towing a static load like a vehicle "Feels" a lot different than pulling a live load like a 1200 lb horse/mule. That's why those of us with experience hauling horses always try to err to the conservative side when approaching things with SUVs and light-weight trailers. When the animal starts moving...you feel it.
 
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Agree completely with Jim in PA about the hairy eyeball. Heck, folks at my trail club get that if they aren't using a 4WD dually! Having a mule labels me as slightly eccentric anyway; I'm used to it.
There's an older woman in this area that I've seen towing a one-horse Brenderup with a Forester. Vawy Scawy to the equine community's eyes! LOL

In an ideal world, Euro style horse trailers wouldn't cost two to three times as much as "North American" design horse trailers. The former are designed from the ground out to be towed safely by more modest vehicles and are perfect for tow vehicles like the Ascent. But few people are willing to pay $18K for a Böckmann when they can buy a stock trailer for $6-8K and smaller two horse like the TrailersUSA Minuteman I used for $10-12K. The Euro trailers are balanced for lower tongue weights and have inertial brakes. (electric brakes are not permitted for this application in the EU)
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yeah, no Brenderup for me. Someone at our club has one and that thing looks like an accident waiting to happen
 

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Brenderups are much misunderstood. They actually were pretty high quality. Parts availability is more difficult now as they have not been imported for quite a few years now. My favorite of the Euro trailers actually available in North America is Böckmann, specifically the Portax with the front ramp...really nice product. Ching, ching...though... ;)
 

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But few people are willing to pay $18K for a Böckmann when they can buy a stock trailer for $6-8K and smaller two horse like the TrailersUSA Minuteman I used for $10-12K. The Euro trailers are balanced for lower tongue weights and have inertial brakes.
I don't think many people do the math for towing with a family vehicle versus buying a tow vehicle. That lighter trailer is way cheaper than buying tow vehicle.
 

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Very true, Q. Very true.
 

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I don't think many people do the math for towing with a family vehicle versus buying a tow vehicle. That lighter trailer is way cheaper than buying tow vehicle.

And not just in purchase price, but in gas savings.

Subaru Ascent (mine) . $36000
GMC 2500 HD 4WD (used to be mine) - $44000 (I got a great deal on a contractor version)

Ascent- 20mpg
GMC - 15mpg

25% fuel savings :D

Ascent - 5000lbs towing
GMC - 14,500lbs towing

Once I sold my 5th wheel (and kept my pop-up) 5,000lbs was plenty. And I have just enough to tow my Mustang with the 1,500lb trailer. But as mentioned if I had to buy a $6,000 aluminum car trailer instead of the $2,000 Big Tex, I'd still be ahead!
 
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