The Evolution of Converting a Horse Trailer into a Tiny Home

Editor’s Note:  This month, we introduce you to a different type of conversion.  It’s an interesting concept and shows how some people think outside of the box.  This also may be ideal for bus conversion owners that have children and want to travel with them but do not want to be crowded into a bus.

Simply help them convert a horse trailer with their own living quarters and bathroom so when parked, they will have their own independent living space.  Then when they grow up, let them take the trailer on their own to tow behind a pickup truck or large car to do their own camping.  This way, you will not have to dismantle bunk beds and remodel your bus when they decide they no longer want to travel with mom and dad.

This would also work for the couple with children that want to buy a bus that does not already have sleeping quarters for children.  Rather than remodel a bus to provide room for the children, simply convert a horse trailer to tow behind the bus for as long as they want to travel with you.  Then when they no longer want to travel, leave the trailer behind.

This is also ideal for people with children that want to invite their friends along. This gives them their own space. Just be aware, it is not legal to ride in a trailer like this while traveling down the road.

Thinking of converting a vintage or utility trailer into an RV or tiny home?  That was me and I purchased both, but after spending thousands of dollars, I had to look at a plan C. I purchased a 1971 Aljo travel trailer and it was a great vintage trailer but needed a complete overhaul. However, I did a small remodel job and took it on a few trips. It was a great travel trailer but I wanted it to be bigger and have more amenities and you just couldn’t accomplish that with this one. Vintage trailers have great strong structures but the work required leaves a lot of them partially done and you can spend thousands of dollars renovating them.

1979 Horse Trailer

This jewel, I’m saving to convert for another day. A 1979 Neko Horse Trailer.

Also, I had a 6x12 enclosed utility trailer and used it for a utility/work trailer plus maybe be a good conversion project as I have seen a few before. Shortly after using this for a while, the leaf springs broke on one side, which was not sustainable and is very dangerous.  I ruled this option out as a conversion. I was talking to a friend and she said, “You know you see those old horse trailers are still fully functioning on the highways, you should convert one of those.”  Ironically, two days later, I randomly met a retired jockey he mentioned an out of commission horse trailer he had from another jockey who had passed away and he graciously let me take it for my tiny house conversion project. I promised him I would make this into something special. I began to look for a newer model to work with.  I searched the internet and visited several horse trailer dealers finally purchasing the largest bumper-pull horse trailer I could find on the market.

Horse Trailer

Horse trailer exterior front.

Horse Trailer interior

Horse trailer interior.

Horse trailer exterior rear.

Horse trailer exterior rear.

The horse trailer I purchased, can easily be pulled with a 1/2-ton truck.  As soon I backed up my truck and loaded it on my hitch, it sat down and was ready to ride. There was no bouncing or swaying at all.  The secret is out!

4H Trailswest

4H Trailswest Adventures 4-Horse Trailer.

The Trails West Adventure, a 4-horse trailer from the stocked position, can accommodate four thoroughbred horses which means it’s taller than the average horse trailer with a height of seven feet on the inside.  Each thoroughbred horse could weigh as much as 1,500 lbs.  Using this trailer as a conversion, I knew I had a steady foundation to build on.

Plexiglass installation overexposed areas.

Plexiglass installation overexposed areas.

The overall width is 8’ 5” wide by 21’ long by 9’ 5” tall.  The trailer sits lower to the ground vs most RVs and Tiny Homes making it a great option for those wanting fewer stairs and want to carry mobile transports i.e., motorcycles or ATVs. I was excited to get back to the shop and start this project.

 The Build-Out

Upgrading the tires and rims were first the items on my list.  A 4-horse fully enclosed bumper-pull model was hard to find, so I purchased this open one. I closed off the open exposed areas using aluminum L brackets, rivets, and smoked plexiglass.  No real issues with this process and it’s held up well for years. 

Horse trailer interior with 3/4” rubber mat.

Horse trailer interior with 3/4” rubber mat.

The smoked plexiglass gives the horse trailer a stealthy look and the only maintenance is to keep an eye on the marine-grade clear sealant I used around the aluminum L brackets.  This sealant was used to keep the plexiglass in place as well as to serve as a sealer. 

The plexiglass has proven to be much cooler than glass.  With no windows, I get plenty of circulation from the two ceiling fans/vents I added and even more when both doors are open for a cross breeze.

Trailer base steel frame with 2 x 10’s wood plank supports left in place.

Trailer base steel frame with 2 x 10’s wood plank supports left in place.

Once I closed off the open areas, I moved inside to remove the horst dividers and all metal brackets.  Because it was all metal, I had to grind them off.  Trying to be as sustainable as possible, I sold these items to ranchers wanting to update their stalls. On raw metal, a coat of good quality metal primer and paint was required.

I left the original flooring which consisted of 2x8’s as the underbelly and a 3/4” rubber mat in the interior.  I installed a 12-mil luxury vinyl floor on top of the rubber mat and 2x8 planks. The interior floor now is well insulated. The metal walls have 1-1/2” foam board insulation in most of the area.

I left some areas empty under the plexiglass and metal walls to show how it was originally a horse trailer. The ceiling has 1” of insulation and plastic corrugated ceiling panels as I evaluate adding more wiring to add additional solar panels, allowing the AC to run longer.

Adding additional solar panels and lithium batteries would allow me to stay off the grid in the summer months. With the doors open during the day, I generally don’t need to run the AC.

The Bedroom/Living/Dining Room

View from the rear with doors opened.

View from the rear with doors opened.

I specialize in innovative living spaces.  I knew I needed a Murphy bed which is one of my signature custom furniture builds.  Murphy beds allows a room to have multiple purposes with the inclusion of a full bed lowered when needed.

The mattress is a 10” memory foam mattress.  To maximize storage, I built a shelf above the bed to serve as a huge nightstand with additional hidden storage. The bench under the bed serves as two very large storage bins. There is also additional storage behind the storage bins. 

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