There are many different reasons as to why you may be faced with the task of towing a horsebox, whether riding may be a passion of yours, a hobby or you are a professional equestrian rider. Maintaining full safety at all times is vital as not only are you responsible for your own safety and other drivers, you are, also, transporting a living being from one destination to another, so your horse’s safety must be of utmost importance.
5 Top Tips When Towing A Horsebox
From preparing your vehicle for hitching a horsebox to driving on busy and rural roads, there are a few crucial safety tips you must make yourself aware of before considering setting off for a journey, even if your final destination is close by.
Essential Vehicle Checks
A full examination of both your vehicle of choice and horsebox must be undertaken before you can attempt to start towing. It is always recommended to take a brief look in advance, a few days before, so if any basic maintenance tasks need to be completed, you have time to schedule them in.
Below are a few vital questions you must ask yourself:
Is All Equipment In Working Condition?
All pieces of equipment from hitches to door latches need to be in working condition. Your hitch and trailer must be perfectly suited in the correct sizes, so when you start driving, the horsebox will stay stable and will not begin in sway due to a loosely fitted hitch. Keep a careful eye out for any rust on bolts or door latches. Once rust starts to form, metal equipment begin to become brittle and run the risk of snapping. This is a particular danger hazard when it comes to door latches. A horse holds great strength meaning that the slightest kick on an unsteady door latch can force the door open, making it swing open mid-journey on a busy road.
Have Your Tyres Been Checked?
Always check your tyres for any cracks, especially if you are using your horsebox after it has been in storage over the Winter. To avoid tyre damage over the colder months, spend a couple of minutes every few weeks starting up the engine and moving the horsebox, evenly spreading the weight of the vehicle over the tyres.
Similarly to when setting off on any long journey, always check the tyre pressure of your horsebox. This is a vital maintenance task for all vehicles, but even more so on one that will be holding a significant amount of weight.
Lastly, ensure that you have a spare tyre on board in the unfortunate case of an emergency. Make sure that you have a full understanding of how to change a tyre in case you are stranded in a location.
Will Your Horse Be Comfortable?
Ensure that you have extra supplies of hay and water to keep your horse going throughout the journey as it is, in fact, a legal requirement to supply your animal with these during transportation.
Never over-clothe your horse as if they become too warm, it increases the likelihood of an aggravated and frustrated animal who will work against you, rather than with you. You can always stop in a safe location mid-journey to add warmer clothing if the temperature drops dramatically.
If you’re unsure on how to load your horse safely, take a look at this previous article.
You need to be able to see all of your surroundings and ensure that all other road users can see you at all times, especially if you plan to take your horsebox on the motorway as it is high speed and situations are always changing. Consider investing into and fitting extended mirrors to your vehicle, so you have a full view of all directions, particularly behind. Fitting extended mirrors will also help with parking.
Always try to drive as smoothly as possible, this includes both braking and speeding up. If you can see a tight corner or speed bump approaching, try to begin slowing down and changing down gears in advance. Maintaining a smooth driving motion is vital for keeping your horse calm throughout your journey. Any sudden movements or sudden swaying of your horsebox will stress your horse as they cannot see ahead, so will panic just as we would do so. Of course, some situations are unavoidable, and you have no choice but to sudden brake, but try to avoid any sudden movements where possible.
Pack Emergency Equipment
Emergency equipment is often unused, but it is always better to be safe than sorry and pack the essential emergency equipment just in case!
Both your horse and your own safety needs to be taken into account, so make sure that you have a standard first aid kit and an equine first aid kit on board. Also, pack breakdown equipment such a breakdown triangle and hi-vis clothing for you and your horse. Extra blankets and clothing are always recommended in the event of a breakdown during the night or the colder months.
Although all skills required for manoeuvring would have been covered during your horsebox training, you can never go wrong with a little extra practice. Take some time about before your first scheduled journey to practice driving your horsebox without a horse on board, never jump straight into transporting a horse on your first independent drive.
Positioning can often be a little tricky when it comes to driving a vehicle with a trailer or horsebox attached; it will be a lot wider than you are used to. You must be able to nail having the perfect balance between being close to the curb and being close to the white lines.
Driving too close to the curb runs the risk of hitting the surface causing your horsebox to start to sway or in worst case scenario, start to bounce along the pavement. Whereas, driving too close to the white lines, particularly on a dual carriageway or on the motorway puts you in huge danger or wandering into traffic and other road users.
Always Stay Safe!
Road safety is vital no matter the vehicle you drive or the passengers you have on board, but even more so when transporting an animal from one destination to another. Take into account that this is often a stressful time for them, so try to be as accommodating as you possibly can!