Anyone haul their minis in a van?

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Well-Known Member
Nov 18, 2007
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Corry, PA
I'm seriously considering using a cargo van for hauling my minis. I usually only haul one to two at a time so there would easily be enough room. I'm wondering how do you get them into the van short of picking them up? Are there ramps you can buy. I'm very interested in seeing your responses.
I have a Ford Transit high top long wheel base 2.5 litre van that does approx 30 miles to the gallon...towing it goes down to around 24 and with the price of diesel currently standing at $14.00 a gallon I cannot afford to tow.

Partitioned out (removable partitions) I can carry three in the body of the van- the back has three permanent dog cages, but it could easily have a sitting and changing area for people fitted.

I would recommend carrying in the body of the van, not the back as this is the most stable area.

My van has the cab separate from the body, but this could be taken out if I wished to be able to walk through, or a window could be cut easily in the partition so I could see what was going on.

I would not recommend using a smaller van, or using one that has not been converted.

Ramps are easy to make out of marine plywood, they do need to be strengthened but I can easily lift mine to stow it over the side door when the vehicle is in use, this just gives added safety.

When not in use the ramp sits up against the wall.

When I had the smaller van the horse jumped in and out without a problem, but this one is slightly higher.

Whether or not you needed a ramp would depend on the height of the van you obtain.
I used to travel with my pony in the back seat of my truck; it worked very well.



The thing you have to remember is how to set things up so that everyone stays safe. You have to have some kind of divider that will protect the driver and passangers in case of a sudden stop. You have to protect the vehicle from damage (manure and urine) and you have to protect the horse from the vehicle (glass, sharp objects, etc). I spent about four days and $100 outfitting my truck to be a safe riding vehicle for my pony. Its not as easy as just throwing them in the back and taking off!
Thank you everyone for posting. I'm seriously considering this. We have several types of vans that we use for our business and some already have the big thick rubber mats throughout the whole back.

Now, I just have to be brave and try it.
Why else would they be called "mini" vans?

We use our Ford Windstar with a homemade safety barrier. I would NOT transport a horse that I didn't know well, as it does have windows. Headroom is 48".

Before we had minis, we owned the ideal horse hauler: a GMC Safari mini cargo van (same as a Chevy Astro). These are built on a truck frame, not a car frame like most minivans, with a boxy shape and high roof. Ours had no windows, had rubber mats throughout and a moon roof in back for ventilation...

We plan to purchase either a full-sized cargo van or a used ambulance to convert into a dedicated horse hauler. Ambulances sell for very little, have a low center of gravity, great suspension, lots of storage and a door from the cab. Sadly, they don't come with the lights and siren.

Either way, I REALLY like having my horse in the vehicle where I can keep an eye on him and know the temperature, etc. Mingus likes having his own stereo controls...
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We use a Dodge Caravan that had been a delivery van. John has a used car dealer

license and he is a transmission rebuilder. We got our 2005 Caravan at a dealer

auction for $1875 with the transmission out. It had been ordered new without the

back seats and with a factory rubber mat in the back. It also had a divider already

in it. John rebuilt the transmission and now we have a wonderful van. We brought

our new colt Nick home in it a couple of weeks ago and he did great. He didn't need

any ramps to get in and out of it, he just hopped up into it and jumped right out.

It has sliding doors on each side as well as the hatch door in the back. We see these

types of "delivery" mini vans go through the auctions quite often and they go for much

less than a passenger mini van would.
I would LOVE a van to take Bailey and Willow on outings. They are kind of pricey over here though, even the older styles.
For several years I kept saying, "I want a mini van" to Larry. I wanted it to haul one or two minis whenever he wasn't home with his truck and trailer......He KNEW that. But he'd roll his eyes and say," We aren't mini van people." (Whatever that means.)

My fussing finally won. We bought a used Mercury Villager with Larry being the one who test drove it. It was a 1993 model, but in wonderful shape, and most importantly -- I was able to pay cash for it!

It's been invaluable. The 3rd row seats have been removed ever since we bought it. I installed a plywood barrier, a small tarp and a light-weight rubber mat is almost always living in the cargo area. It's always ready to go in an emergency.

And I have the last laugh because Larry now admits it was a good idea.........

I will add though.......Even with the barrier, I highly recommend having a second person riding in the seat just infront of the horse or hold onto leads......for safety sake.
Maryann, You bring up the reason we first considered hauling in our van -- emergencies. Those who don't have trailers readily available (and that includes big ones that cannot be quickly put on the road) absolutely MUST have emergency transportation.

BTW, Keith and I never thought we were minivan people until that old van came into our lives nearly unbidden. Now I'm soccer mom to my horses!
Maryann, You bring up the reason we first considered hauling in our van -- emergencies. Those who don't have trailers readily available (and that includes big ones that cannot be quickly put on the road) absolutely MUST have emergency transportation.

BTW, Keith and I never thought we were minivan people until that old van came into our lives nearly unbidden. Now I'm soccer mom to my horses!

Soccer mini mom.........LOL!!!!
I agree! In the case of an emergency how easy it would be to pop a mini in the van. I live in the snow belt where at times my trailer is buried and would be really hard to get to. Also, in the winter you can have a little heat on to help aid in the comfort of your mini and in the summer they could enjoy the air conditioning!

I always swore I'd never drive a mini van too but now after driving our company ones, I love them.

It's amazing how your perspective changes as you grow older.
We have a Ford Econoline van that we purchased used that had been converted (military use), so had vinyl on the floor, and a fixed grill/divider between the cargo area and the second row of seats. We have since had the back windows tinted - the dark limo color - to keep it cooler and less distracting for horses unfamiliar with looking out!

For a floor mat we cut a commercial entry mat (8x10 thin and rollable) down to fit. We put rice hulls down on top of that - although the trip tomorrow we're trying a compressed bedding our feed store recommended that obsorbs better so we'll see!. My DH built a ramp that we carry and store behind the front seat. I would still love a permanent ramp that we could slid in under a raised floor, but we haven't come up with a good solution for that yet! We also have permanent leads tied off to the frame of the second row of seats so horse can be tied or cross tied as needed and a permanent butt rope 20' lunge line tied off the same to use when loading solo.

It is a good idea though to have someone in the second row of seats until the horse is used to the motion/looking out - all seem to enjoy it once they get use to it.

We've hauled four smaller/foals but it was a short run otherwise 2-3 (because of the wheel well) is plenty - and they do have to get along!

Other than the 'horse' odors (I don't mind but imagine what it's like when we stop to eat!) it really is nice to drive versus pulling a trailer as you can see your horses, they get the same basic ride as we do. Plus you can drive at regular car speed versus the truck/trailer speed/parking is easier, etc.

The only downside - I'm not 5'1" so I would love more headroom. I've looked at the new taller vans (European looking ones that FedEx uses) and that is on the list for a replacement.

** Whoever mentioned getting an ambulance - those do convert nicely I saw one at a show - very clever idea! I've always lusted after the UPS vans as they have more headroom and could haul all the extra's you need for a longer road trip including suspending a cart or building a rack above the horses if need be.
We are currently on our third van as mini mover. The first was a Ford cargo van. We built a plywood box that fit in the back and it had a ramp attached to the back that folded down. That would haul three horses but there were only two seats. Than we bought a Ford conversion van, took out the back seat and built a smaller box for that which would hold two full size minis or three or four babies. That was also plywood with a frame of 2x4 s and we have a ramp with indoor outdoor carpet and slats to keep them from slipping that slides right under the box. We just recently bought a Chevy AWD full size conversion van so we could use it in the winter. I have hauled horses as far as Texas in the vans and it is great, a smooth ride for the horses, AC in summer, heat in winter and you can see what they are doing at all times. As long as you only need to haul a few horses at a time they are great and get much better gas mileage than a truck and trailer. These were all used vans.

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