So much love, time and money is spent on horses yet every day, owners load their pride and joy into their horsebox without first making a thorough check of the floor.
Several tonne of horse is a big weight to bear, which makes your vehicle’s floor the most important part of it – after all, your horse’s safety and welfare are all down to that.
“The next time you are busy checking your horse or pony, spare a thought for the horsebox or trailer in which he has to travel,” advises Watch Manager, Jim Green, from Hampshire’s Fire and Rescue Service.
“Reports of floors giving way while horses are in transit are not uncommon and can result in serious injury. Remember, your horse’s safety depends on you.”
The main problem with horsebox flooring is that it tends to have insufficient drainage. There’s a lot of liquid for it to contend with – such as urine, rain, water and damp – all of which causes the floor to rot. So regular checks of the floor’s condition is a must, particularly if your horsebox is not used regularly and stands still for long periods of time.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Animal Team has attended a number of horse-related road incidents over the last 12 months, most of which could have been avoided if the vehicles had been checked before leaving.
In one situation, which thankfully had a positive outcome, the team was called to a 15-year-old part-Irish Draught whose off-hind had become trapped in the floor of his horsebox. The 16.1hh gelding had to be heavily sedated while the wood and steel frame was cut away around him, so that he could be returned to safety.
Horse trailers risk the same floor nightmares, too, if routine checks aren’t made before travelling. It is down to the owner to have the flooring checked regularly by a professional.
Plus, if you buy a second-hand trailer, always get it checked by a professional before using it – rely on this, rather than the owner’s word on how well it has been looked after.
Although lorries are required by law to pass an annual test, be aware that this doesn’t guarantee its floor is safe for carrying horses. The underneath of the lorry will be checked for damage and corrosion, but where the horses stand will not be.
Wooden floors in particular deteriorate quickly, so regular checks are essential for horseboxes. And don’t forget to check the floor of your vehicle’s ramp, either.
- Every time you use your horsebox or trailer, always check the floor’s condition prior to loading your horse.
- Before it is put away, ensure your horsebox is thoroughly cleaned out, and the floor is given time to air and dry.
- Regularly power-wash the underside of your vehicle.
- If your floor is wooden, be particularly cautious, and regularly check it for signs of rotting and damp patches.
- Regularly lift and remove matting and/or bedding to clean the floor and allow it to air.