Wednesday August 15, 2001
Not everyone who owns a horse, owns a trailer.
But if you've come to this site, you're either looking for a trailer,
looking to upgrade your trailer, or wishing you could do either one.
Choosing a trailer doesn't have to be a technical task. Many things to
look for make common sense - and some of them may surprise you - or at
least entertain you.
Are you a Sundowner
owner? Email your comments to: email@example.com
So what do you look for when you buy a
trailer? I've talked to many folks and the responses may surprise you.
While many will dig into specs, construction and weight ratios, many more
simply look for a trailer with a good reputation, easy to use and
attractive to pull. Safety is always a consideration but price often
drives the final decision. Translation: They want the most for their
What brands are the most popular? Depends on
the part of the country you live in. But there are a handful of well
recognized brands that seem to hold their resale value better than most.
Sundowner is definitely in that category.
Sundowner Valuelite on Review
|| First let's get the proper
perspective of you - the buyer - because this will greatly impact what is
important to you. For example. If you're Jeff Gordan racing NASCAR, your
requirements will be quite different than my own. I have a young family,
we rodeo occasionally but mostly do the local shows. We get there, and we
get home. Pure transportation. I want a trailer that won't break the
bank, is easy to operate, pulls easily, and will hold it's value.
Sundowner chose a 4-horse Valuelite slant load for us. Here's what we
In a word. Easy. Our trip from Oklahoma City
back to Kansas City was over 300 miles and I had to check my mirror to
make sure it was still back there. To be fair, pulling is relative to the
power plant you're using. ( I was driving a 2000 Ford Powerstroke diesel
crewcab with a shortbed. (4x4) But I've pulled a lot of trailers. Some
have not tracked well at higher speeds, and others pulled as though they
had a 40 foot silk drag chute attached to the rear.
While clearance is a good thing - it also
forces a horse to step higher when entering a trailer. The Valuelite we
tried had a clearance of about 17 inches. Higher than some. Acceptable to
me because I worry about low profile trailers on the uneven fairgrounds
we often experience. Our horses load well. If you have one that doesn't,
I would look into a drop ramp. They are a nifty option.
I looked for a way to hold the dividers open. I didn't
have to. Dividers on our Sundowner were spring loaded and they swing and
hold open on their own. (See picture inset). Great idea. If you've ever
had to swing a divider closed quickly on a horse you just loaded and
needed both hands to release the snap holding the divider open, you know
exactly what I mean.
Probably one of the best features of the trailer
was the divider latches. I've never seen anything comparable to their ease of
operation. This was critical for my wife. No slamming. No muscle. You use
your thumb. (see inset)
Door latches are pretty standard, though I do
prefer the vertical bar pictured here and used on the Valuelite.. The whole
door is pressed firmly to the seal. And strength integrity is critical if
you ever have a kicking episode.
If you're loading alone - there's nothing worse than a swinging door to
spell ACCIDENT. I had to study the hold back latches on the loading doors
for a minute or so - but once I figured them out, found them to be substantial.
Window latches are notoriously hard to reach for
those of us who are height challenged. This particular Valuelite had
sufficient running boards to alleviate this difficulty - and almost all
trailers wrestle with this perplexing problem. (What are your options?)
Nothing new here. There has to be some
after-market tool to make hooking up goosenecks easier so you don't have to
pitch head first into the bed of your truck to latch them. (Belt buckles are
hard on the finish but I'm too impatient to crawl back in from the rear.)
You can avoid dragging around a block of wood by dropping the jack down (see
inset), but the operation of these manual jacks is cumbersome. Again, maybe
there's some better after-market products available - but hooking and
unhooking has to remain one of the most unwelcome aspects of trailering - on
any trailer. Sundowner also offers an electric two-speed jack if you're not
into increasing the size of your forearms.
What can I say? We were very pleased with the
overall appearance of the Sundowner. As my wife would say, "It gives me
GO fever." You can't deny the reputation of Sundowner and the smooth
white finish is easy to wash down. The graphics are simple, but classy.
Everyone knows it's a Sundowner and the branding is successful. It's a
well-known trailer and easily identifiable. In short - you never have to
apologize for showing up in a Sundowner. Personal opinion. But that's what
this column is all about. Nice to know at resale time too.
The Valuelite insulates the horse compartment
all the way up to the ceiling. Loading lights are standard. Switches to
these and the interior lights are convenient. Feedbags were available though
we did not use them. They were very easy to remove for cleaning, they were
firmly mounted, but not over designed to avoid breaking away should a horse
happen to get a foot up there. (as you know, anything is possible)
I've never had to use the escape door for
emergency unloading but just having it gives you piece of mind. Besides,
it's nice to be able to have access to that front stall for storage
Minor things I would add to this particular model
- A pop-out step into the upper gooseneck area from
the dressing room
- An outside switch to the dressing room
- Window screens
Sundowner remains a class act for the rest of
the industry to follow - whether their competitors wish to admit it or not.
Much of their quality remains unseen, in the integrity of their design (like
powder coated steel frames and torsion ride axles). They've even tested wind
resistance for designing an optimal 30 degree nose and low profile roof.
While you may pay a little more for a
Sundowner, my experience with the website and the feedback from other
Sundowner owners verify you get a return on that investment at resale time. They hold their value. The
Valuelite fits into the user profile I described earlier. A quality trailer for the discerning horseman with a conservative
budget. Retail for the exact
trailer we tested is around $22,500.
Or email me if you have specific questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Needless to say, the trailer is in "like new" condition.
Friday October 26, 2001
Sundowner Valuelite is no light-weight when it comes to
strength. I loaded two oversized Belgian draft horses and hauled them
to town this fall for a local parade called "Old Settlers Days".
Not a problem. I donated my team and wagon to the kids from Greenleaf
Academy. The theme for the parade was "Honor our Veterans"
and the kids did an outstanding job recreating the famous flag raising
picture from the battle on Iwa Jima during World War II.
I couldn't bring the close the stall dividers on them - but Fred found the
drop down windows very convenient. Both sets of harness hung nicely in
the rear tack on the swing-out saddle racks. But pictures tell it all.
>click here for more pics< Oh by
the way. The entry won 1st Place in the horse-drawn category.
|Review by Dave Mattern
comments to the Editor
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