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Floats and towball limits

Horse and Rider Safety Thread, Floats and towball limits in Horses and Ponies; I'm hoping someone can help me with a very expensive mistake that I just made. A couple of weeks ago ...
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Old 29-04-2008, 05:58 PM   #1
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Default Floats and towball limits

I'm hoping someone can help me with a very expensive mistake that I just made.

A couple of weeks ago I finally took the plunge to buy a car that could tow a horse float. I sold my cute, reliable and very fuel efficient Barina (which couldn't tow a feather) and bought a Nissan X-trail. My reason for choosing an x-trail was that they are relatively fuel efficient (which is important to me, for cost and environment reasons) but can still tow 2000kg - at least that's what it says in the specs. Well, after I bought it I found out that the maximum towball down load for the x-trail is only 150kg. I've heard that the towball load should be about 10% of the total trailer mass, so that means you can only tow about 1500kg with the x-trail. So, apart from being very annoyed (grrrrrr!) with Nissan and their misleading 2000kg statement, I'm wondering if I can tow a horse float with it at all.

I only need to tow 1 horse, but I'm not very keen on single floats (I just read the thread on single floats - some scary stuff in there!). I have access to a couple of different double floats, so I guess I need to find out the towball down load with the horse in the double float - any ideas on how to do that? He's a big solid boy so I'm guessing he would be at least 500 kg, and double float is probably 1000 kg, so it looks like I'm going to be right on the 150 kg towball limit with a double float (10% rule again). Hmmm.

Any ideas? Should I just ditch the x-trail and give up on my idea of having a fuel efficient car for towing? I really don't want to drive around in a tank, but maybe its the only way to be safe.

If nothing else, perhaps my experience will prevent someone else making the same mistake!
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Old 29-04-2008, 06:44 PM   #2
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Most standard floats are about 850kg, for a standard float (galv), so I guess it depends on float size and horse size. My Rodeo can tow 1800kg ( is rated at thatfor the car, and has a 2200kg rated tow bar). It is about 1 standard float + 1 x 16hh horse and 1 x 12hh pony. So towing a float with one horse would be fine
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Old 29-04-2008, 07:26 PM   #3
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I have a nissian x-trail and it tows my float fine with the 2 horses. Both my horses are under 15 hh and my tow ball (which is the nissian one) tows 2000kg together I estimate to weigh about 1500kg.

I love it I was also told when I brought mine that is wouldn't have enough power but it does the job fine. I feel safe tooo.

I am taking mine back tommorrow though because my left indicators are not working on the float (they work with the other car so it is not the float) and some screws have come out of the mud flaps
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Old 29-04-2008, 08:08 PM   #4
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Goodness! I have towed my horse around with an older model Suzuki Vitara, so im quite sure your X-trail will be able to cope! Dont stress too much about down pressure, its better to have more weight on the front than the rear, as this will cause the float to sway at higher speeds and/or gravel roads.

My vote - definitely keep the X-trail, it will be quite adequate for towing around one horse
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Old 29-04-2008, 08:48 PM   #5
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The car probably can tow 2000kg, but the tow ball and fittings need to be rated at that too, all you need to do is get a heavy duty tow ball kit installed that is rated to tow what the car is rated at. Most standard tow bars are rated at about 1200kg, you put a float and two horses on that and you way over your safe weight.

People often make the mistake of saying yes my car can tow 2200kg but forget that tow ball can not and could be ripped out of the back end of your car which i believe happened in a accident not so long ago. The whole unit of the tow ball from inside the back of the car was still attatched to the float it just tore out.....float rolled
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Old 29-04-2008, 09:03 PM   #6
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Hi to all,
See if you can find some personal scales that will read high enough.
Then measure the actual height of your tow bar from the ground, do it in a flat car park like a shopping centre.
The get the float, build up a small pile of bricks, criss crossed etc to the height of the car's tow ball that you measured and put the scales on top(include the height of the scales also in the total height of your little stand).
Then roll the float in and gently rest the float tow hitch on the scales and take a reading.
If the float has a hand brake, you could then load the horse and take a total reading etc.
That will give you the confidence you need with the tow ball down load.
The 10% rule is a load of rubbish as all the float draw bars are different lengths and thus apply different amounts of leverage on the tow ball.
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Old 29-04-2008, 09:06 PM   #7
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Good to hear that someone else is towing ok with an x-trail. At least that gives me a bit more confidence!
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Old 29-04-2008, 09:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khan View Post
Hi to all,
See if you can find some personal scales that will read high enough.
Then measure the actual height of your tow bar from the ground, do it in a flat car park like a shopping centre.
The get the float, build up a small pile of bricks, criss crossed etc to the height of the car's tow ball that you measured and put the scales on top(include the height of the scales also in the total height of your little stand).
Then roll the float in and gently rest the float tow hitch on the scales and take a reading.
If the float has a hand brake, you could then load the horse and take a total reading etc.
That will give you the confidence you need with the tow ball down load.
The 10% rule is a load of rubbish as all the float draw bars are different lengths and thus apply different amounts of leverage on the tow ball.
Thanks Khan - I was thinking about putting the jockey wheel down on the scales but I like your idea better.

In response to some of the other suggestions (thanks guys!) - its not as simple as just getting a tow bar that is rated high enough. Its the car itself that can only take 150 kg down load, regardless of what the tow bar can take (and it hasn't got a tow bar at all just yet). Apparently there have been some cases where insurance companies have refused to pay up after an accident involving a trailer that exceeded the car's down load limit.

Why is nothing ever simple?!!

RIght, better get myself some mega bathroom scales....
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Old 29-04-2008, 09:36 PM   #9
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Thats what we a hayman reese, they are brilliant.
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Old 29-04-2008, 09:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hasheld View Post
Thanks Khan - I was thinking about putting the jockey wheel down on the scales but I like your idea better.

In response to some of the other suggestions (thanks guys!) - its not as simple as just getting a tow bar that is rated high enough. Its the car itself that can only take 150 kg down load, regardless of what the tow bar can take (and it hasn't got a tow bar at all just yet). Apparently there have been some cases where insurance companies have refused to pay up after an accident involving a trailer that exceeded the car's down load limit.

Why is nothing ever simple?!!

RIght, better get myself some mega bathroom scales....
What do you mean by the 150kg down load limit ????
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