Summer has arrived and with it comes the abundance of horse shows, qualifiers and equestrian events. Travelling with your horse can be a stressful occasion, especially if they do not travel well in the first instance. But did you know you could be travelling towards danger, quite literally.
Not all damage is visible and this is what causes the most problems. Speaking to a local horsebox manufacturer, it was stated that “a lot of horse owners believe they have got a fantastic deal on a horsebox or trailer just because it looks in good condition, but what they do not see is the potential hazards that are hiding beneath. It is all well and good saving money, but cutting corners on safety could result in a hefty price to pay.”
Stories about horse’s putting their limbs through floors and losing their lives have long been circulating the media. These tragic events can be prevented with regular safety checks on your flooring.
It is imperative to check your flooring for damage frequently. Although trailers and horseboxes are finished off with a rubber mat for ease of cleaning, the underneath is often plywood (especially on older wagons and trailers). If your mode of transport does have a plywood floor it is important to check for rot caused by heavy use and mess build-up. Pictured below is a trailer floor that has completely rotted away, the horsebox manufacturer explained how the plywood floor had become weak and flimsy. Letting a horse stand on the damaged areas would only end in a disaster. Certain areas of the trailer were stained with damp and almost at the point of breaking.
A lot of companies are now fitting aluminium floors in horseboxes and trailers for extra stability. Aluminium flooring can be placed over the existing floor to increase safety. Drainage holes are often a great solution for keeping the flooring area as dry as possible. If you are concerned about the safety of your trailer/wagon it may be a good idea to remove the mats and take a closer look at the base. If you are concerned, a trip to a local horsebox/trailer dealership or manufacturer will assist you in ensuring your horse's safety.
Payload is a grey area among many equestrians. To clear the confusion, payload is the permitted weight allowed without exceeding the vehicles designed carrying capacity. You are not allowed to exceed the payload – doing so could land you in trouble.
Keeping the weight of your horsebox/trailer low can be achieved using lightweight materials (without skimping on safety or quality) and distributing weight (horses and equipment) correctly on the wagon to ensure no side is overloaded.
Ramps can become loose and unstable over time and it could cause issues when loading and unloading your horse. Ramps can become very heavy if springs fail - if this does occur you would not want to be lowering a ramp on your own.
As discussed earlier with the flooring, the ramp can also become weak if not looked after adequately. The horses walk up the ramp, putting all their weight on one small area. If the flooring happens to give way you could have a very large vet’s bill on your hands.
Depending on how high/steep your ramp is may change what material is best for your trailer or wagon. Steep ramps can be laid with a tough carpet or rubber to stop slipping. You may also notice some ramps have slats to support the horse when walking down the ramp.
Wheels & Tyres
Tyres are incredibly important, it is what keeps you firmly on the road. Ensuring your tyre pressures are correct before travelling is essential. It is also a good idea to carry a spare tyre for emergencies.
It is important to check your lights are working when connected to the towing vehicle. Brake lights are essential when towing a large trailer as the vehicle behind you will not be able to see your vehicle brakes behind the trailer. Make sure you test the brake lights and indicators before starting your journey.
We hope you found this safety guide informative. After all, you are responsible for your horse’s health and well-being and they depend on you to stay safe! We strongly advise you follow the protocol closely before travelling this season. After all, is the risk really worth it?