Tow Vehicle Requirements

Tow Vehicle Requirements

European-designed horse trailers are here to stay!

Offering rider and horse owner an alternative horse transport that does not require a large truck as tow vehicle.

What Tow Vehicle Can I Use?

One Vehicle for work and play! Any Tow Vehicle with Tow Capacity of 3500lbs, V6 or Turbo 4 Cylinder can tow a Böckmann! Choose your preferred Vehicle Manufacturer and look for larger sedans, SUVs, Cross-Overs or smaller trucks as possible smaller tow vehicle options. Lower tow capacities are possible, however we recommend a V6/Turbo 4 Cylinder for the power you need for inclement weather, traversing trails and hay fields to get to your event. See below for details on the Böckmann difference.

Every Car Manufacturer offers a Model that can Tow. Some examples are below.  If you are car shopping, check the specs of your favourite brand at www.edmunds.com:

  • Ford Escape
  • Saturn Vue
  • Nissan Murano
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Honda Pilot
  • Toyota 4Runner or Highlander


A Common Sense Approach

Your Tow Vehicle Requirements:
  • Class II or Class III Hitch
  • Flat 4 electrical plug (no electric brakes, so no need for a round 6)
  • 2″ ball set at 17-19″ measured from the top of the ball to the ground, depending on the height of the tow vehicle chassis. Tow bar may be a straight one, or one with a rise or drop to gain the correct position.
  • Vehicle Wheel Base minimum of 93″; minimum of 100″ for SUV’s
  • Minimum of 125 horsepower engine: V-6 engine recommended
  • Towing L Models, mid to large SUV’s such as Audi Q5/Q7, Toyota Highlander, VW Toureg, Volvo XC90, Santa Fe XL, Porsche Cayenne
  • Tow package is recommended

Engine Power

The minimum requirement is 125 horsepower. We recommend a vehicle with a V-6 engine, which provides sufficient power to accelerate into traffic, to move easily in and out of traffic and sustain your speed on hilly terrain. More power is always better when you need to manage through Canadian weather, over our rugged terrain, and hills, and through city or highway traffic. Most drivers prefer to tow with a V-6 engine and are quite comfortable with a towing capacity of 3500lbs.

Some vehicles offer a tow package – it is always worth considering, as a tow package supports the work of your engine. Tow packages are designed to keep your engine cool, and it often includes the wiring as part of the package.

If you already have a round 6 or round 7 plug, an adapter which reduces to a flat 4 can be easily found at your local automobile parts store, or in the automobile section of your nearest department store.

Click on the tabs above to learn more about towing Böckmann horse trailers.

Tow Vehicle Wheel Base

The minimum is 93″, however we do recommend at least 100″ for SUV’s. A wider wheelbase provides stability in a tow vehicle. As with anything – more is always better … we recommend at least 100″ of wheel base.


In order for a mid-size vehicle to pull a trailer easily without stressing its engine, aerodynamics are key. The aerodynamic roof-line eliminates the vacuum that builds up behind a flat roof trailer – like behind a transport truck. It is the vacuum that makes a trailer bounce around behind a tow vehicle.

Remove the vacuum – create a more stable ride for the horses. Vacuums also create a drag behind a trailer. In order to break that drag it requires a very powerful engine in the tow vehicle . If the vacuum is eliminated – so is the requirement for a powerful engine.

Aerodynamics are built into all Böckmann horse trailers.

Trailer Balance

In order for a mid-size vehicle to be able to tow a trailer that is heavier than what is described in the vehicle’s manual, there cannot be any extra weight on the hitch beyond the capacity of the vehicle.

To create a trailer that does not significantly “lean” on the tow vehicle, European trailer manufacturers have designed a trailer that will be “self-supporting” or be well balanced. The placement of the “load” is the key to a well-balanced trailer.

Europeans have solved this by placing the horses directly over the dual axles. The dual axles directly support the primary load…the weight of the horses. When horses are loaded ahead of trailer axles, the horses weight is supported by the tow vehicle rather than the axles.

For this reason, knowing your vehicle’s tongue weight capability is an important factor.

Demonstrating Trailer Balance

Tongue Weight

Loaded Tongue Weight (LTW) is the amount of weight that is placed onto the ball from the tongue of a trailer. The amount of LTW is determined by the axle placement and total length of the trailer.
LTW in North America differs by trailer design, as we do not have the same Regulations here.

EU regulations allows an LTW of  4% of the total trailer weight or GVWR (GVWR =empty weight of trailer + max load). The 4%  LTW  has a maximum of 150 kg or 330 lbs of tongue weight for the largest European trailer.

To determine your vehicle’s capacity to tow a European horse trailer, consult your manual for your vehicle’s towing capacity.
Multiply that Tow Capacity by 10%  to determine the LTW for your vehicle. For example, a Ford Escape has a towing capacity of up to 3500 lbs. The math = 3500lbs Tow Capacity x 10% = 350lbs.
The “350 lbs” is the amount of weight the Ford Escape can safely bear at the point where the tongue connects to the ball.
350 lbs is greater than the tongue weight of a Böckmann 2-horse bumper pull trailer, making the Ford Escape with a V-6 engine, an excellent tow vehicle.

Independent Braking System

In order to be towed safely behind a tow vehicle smaller than a standard truck, European horse trailers must have an independent braking system. This independent braking system ensures that the trailer never pushes the tow vehicle.

For more details, see Braking Systems page.