(first appeared in the July 2015 issue of The Equiery)
Chances are, if you are involved with horses, you have some sort of tow vehicle. Or plan to get one. But what kind do you have? And what do you tow with it? And what was it like to purchase it? And would you purchase it again?
The Equiery wanted to know! And so do our trailer advertisers. And certainly auto dealerships want to know. So in June, we informally surveyed our readers, and these are the results.
Our Survey Participants
Who participated in the survey?
• Mostly women! 90.5% (Which didn’t surprise us, as prior surveys have always indicated that most of The Equiery’s readers are women.)
• 49% of the survey participants (men and women) were over 40 years old when they purchased their current tow vehicle, and 28% were between the ages of 20 and 30.
Average Household Income
• Over $100,000: 57%
• $40,000 – $100,000: 31%
• Under $40,000: 11%
Are you a professional in the horse industry?
• 78.5% said no
• 21% consider themselves professional and will haul their client’s horses. Only 2% of our survey takers are “for hire” and consider themselves to be professional shippers.
About Your Tow Vehicle
Make – Ford Wins Out
• Ford: 43%
• GMC/Chevy: 37%
• Dodge was the third most popular with Toyota, Nissan, Jeep and Land Rover also represented.
Type – Trucks vs. Sport Utility
• Trucks: 81%
• SUVs: 19%
How much do you drive your tow vehicle?
• In terms of current mileage on these vehicles, the majority of our survey takers said their tow vehicle either has between 25,000 and 100,000 miles or between 100,000 and 200,000 miles. Twelve people said they actually have over 200,000 miles on their vehicle!
• Most of our survey takers say they only drive their tow vehicle less than 10,000 miles a year (60%) with only 11.5% towing over 20,000 miles a year.
Most Important Features: Power & Reliability
• The responses to the question about what you like most in your tow vehicle varied greatly with several people commenting on the durability and dependability of their vehicle.
• A lot of survey takers also commented on how easy their vehicle is to drive and how well it tows the trailer they own.
• By far, “power” and “reliability” were the two words seen most in the responses.
Would you purchase the same vehicle again?
• Yes: 75.7%
• For the 24% who said they would not buy the same vehicle, most said it was because they would want to upgrade to a bigger engine. Some owners of SUVs would like to change to flatbed trucks so they have the option to tow a gooseneck or bumper pull.
What You Tow
Our survey did not go into specifics on what make and model trailers you tow but asked general questions about size and certain features that tend to affect the weight of the trailer, thus affecting the tow capacity needed on the vehicle.
• 2-Horse Bumper Pull (a.k.a. Tag-Along): 60%
• 2-3 Horse Gooseneck: 27%
• 3+ Gooseneck: 19%
• Straight Load: 65.87%
• Slant Load: 13.49%
• Stock Trailer: 10%
• Other: 10% (readers specified 2+1 trailers such as straight loads with a box stall up front and Brenderups, which tend to haul one horse only in the “other” category)
• 70%+ said yes
The Purchase Process
New vs. Use
• New: 51%
• Used: 49%
• Over $30,000: 43%
• $10,000 – $30,000: 50%
• Under $10,000: 5%
• Purchased via dealership: 82.95%
• The rest were purchased through private sale.
We asked an unusual question. We asked if the respondent selected their own vehicle, or if someone had selected it for them. We knew, before we created this survey, that the majority of our readers are women. We also are aware that, until recently, when national companies surveyed women vehicle owners, a disconcerting (to us) number of women would report that a male figure in their life had selected their vehicle (father, husband, boyfriend, brother, etc). So we thought we would ask our readers who actually selected their tow vehicles.
Who selected the tow vehicle?
• We were delighted when the majority of our participants, approximately 82%, reported that they selected their own tow vehicle! Way to go, ladies!
• For those who did not select the vehicle on their own, the responses varied on who selected the vehicle for them:
• 54% said a significant other or spouse selected it for them
• 22% said a friend selected the vehicle for them
• Siblings and parents were tied at 9%
• “hand-me-down” was only at 4.5%
Who will select your next tow vehicle?
• When asked who will select their next tow vehicle, nearly everyone stated they would select it themselves (94.4%)!
When will you buy your next tow vehicle?
• About 54% stated they do not plan to buy another vehicle until their current one stops working.
• 31% said they plan to buy a new tow vehicle within the next three to five years
• 9.6% say they plan to purchase a new vehicle this year.
A Note to Dealers
Finally, we asked in our survey what dealerships and salespeople could do to make the buying experience better.
• Most survey takers requested that salespeople selling trucks should know about hauling and not just repeat the specs of the trucks–and specifically understanding that hauling a live animal is much different from hauling a boat or U-Haul.
The Buying Experience
Most of our survey takers were satisfied with their buying experience reporting either “good” or “great” for this question (28.7%). Only 10% said their buying experience was “excellent” and less than one percent said it was “hard” or “frustrating.” We asked our readers to elaborate a bit more about the buying experience. Here are a few of the more colorful or elucidating responses!
“ Actually, pretty good. Knew what I wanted and made the salesman find it!”
“ Excellent, but the salesman did seem a bit shocked that I was making the decision and that I knew what I needed!”
“ Fine–after I bitch-slapped the salesman.”
“ First, the dealer told me about the color and interior features. Then I told him I was more concerned about the engine size and the amount of pickup for highway driving.”
“ Great! We found the truck on the internet, the dealership had just purchased several, which had come off of a lease – so we were able to get a good price.”
“ Great, I found the vehicle I wanted in New York over the internet, went to the local Chevy dealer and they transported it to Maryland.”
“ I had my husband with me, so they talked to him more than me. Only became interested when it became clear that I would have the final say since it would be hauling MY horse.”
“ The salesman seemed to think I cared more about the color of the vehicle than the engine or features. After I told him what I wanted in an engine and size, he proceded to tell me that I did not need that much vehicle. It could be because he was trying to move something that was currently on the lot rather than bring something in from across state lines, but I doubt he would have done that to a man.”
“ Took my daughter shopping for her truck, went to several dealers, every sales person asked if we would rather buy a nice little SUV or sporty car.”
“ I knew what specs I needed and found it very difficult to get the dealer to focus on that. One told me I knew more about the towing specs than his salesmen. Another kept touting the Quadrasteer feature (they don’t make it any more, but it makes hauling a bumper pull MUCH more stable) as being handy for ‘parking at the mall.’ Seriously, I wanted to hit him. Eventually I bought from a dealer that didn’t give me crap and located the vehicle I wanted in Pennsylvania, and drove it down for me.”
“ No problem as my husband was with me, but in the past I have had sales folks NOT understand the type of vehicle needed for towing a horse trailer. They never wanted to sell me ‘enough’ truck.”
“ Excellent. Walked in, asked if they had a used one-ton diesel and bought it.”
“ I did all the haggling, not my husband. I’m tougher!”
“ Pretty good… had to be sure I stuck to what I wanted. Researched heavily into what I needed before going.”
“ I knew more about trucks than the dealer”
“ Only OK once I made it clear my husband was not involved.”