There is nothing worse than getting your horsebox packed and the horses prepped for loading and then spotting a potential issue with the lorry. Whether it’s a flat battery, tyre issue or potential problem that may cause harm to your horse when travelling, keeping on top of your horsebox maintenance is a simple step to a less stressful show day.
What can you be doing, as a horsebox owner, to ensure your vehicle is kept roadworthy and safe for your horses all year round?
Quick and easy visual checks, around the exterior and interior of the vehicle, is a good place to start. Checking for obvious signs of damage or more extensive wear and tear. Visual checks should also include checking wipers, oil levels, and washer fluid.
Other checks could also include checking the window seals for leaks, the windows themselves for chips or cracks, and more horse specific elements such as whether internal tie up rings are firmly attached to the walls and fitted with safe to use ties (we recommend Equipings), and that external tie up rings don’t have long ties hanging from them, that may get caught on passing vehicles, hedges, or trees.
An area that owners would need to check prior to their annual MOT/Service/Plating, but an area that should be checked prior to each use is the condition of all tyres.
Tyres must be:
- In good condition and the correct tread depth, and trye pressure
- Check there are no cracks or bulges
- Check any spare wheels are correct for the vehicle and in good condition
- Carry a jack adequate for the size and weight of the vehicle
- If locking wheel nuts are fitted, ensure the key is kept in the vehicle
New legislation also came into effect on the 1st February 2021 with the Department For Transport bringing a ban in on the use of tyres over 10-years old on any axle with single wheels fitted or on the front axle of any lorry.
If you are carrying a spare, it can be advisable to swap the spare on and rotate tyres occasionally.
It may sound obvious but, an area that people often overlook if the floor. The older horseboxes with wooden floors are those particularly liable to floor issues, and it is advisable to check for soft spots on a regular basis. Owners could go as far to use a screwdriver, or similar, to test areas of the floor.
For those with aluminium floors, corrosion can still occur, and a yearly check should be firmly on the agenda. As well as checks for condition, horsebox owners should check the edges to ensure that no rivets have been broken and the floor isn’t coming away from its fixings.
With a 600kg animal leaning on them, horsebox walls come under a lot of pressure. Owners should check for bowing, that the panels look straight, and that there are no gaps between the floor and sidewalls.
For walls with rubber lining, checking that the rubber is in good condition and not coming away from the walls should be a key consideration.
Firstly, horsebox owners need to establish whether one has been fitted. This is of key importance for the smaller, rear facing horseboxes. The reinforced bulkhead is essentially what is stopping a 600kg plus animal hitting the driver under extreme braking. If you are unsure whether one has been fitted, call a professional for expert advice and retrospective fitting.
If one is fitted, they need to be inspected yearly to ensure there is no structural damage and that it will still prevent a horse breaking through the wall in the event of an accident.
Not only does the ramp have to support the weight of the horse, but it needs to be mobile enough for owners to operate. Checks should be done on the hinges to ensure they are working well and not rusting, but also visual checks on any sharp edges or soft spots on the ramp floor.