Raising awareness about horsebox safe practice

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NFU Mutual is working with the British Horse Society (BHS) and PRP Equine Rescue to help raise awareness on safety best practice for the loading and transportation of horses, following the results of an online survey and horsebox ‘weigh-in’ event which took place at Equifest in August.

The three organisations joined forces to survey more than 2,000 horse owners in July this year. The survey aimed to assess the level of awareness of the rules and regulations surrounding the use of horseboxes and trailers and people’s general attitudes on the subject of safety.

Worryingly, 62 per cent of survey respondents admitted that they do not take the loading and transportation of their horses as seriously as they should.

When asked why, 66 per cent cited a lack of knowledge and a confidence that they would never have a problem as the main reasons for complacency.

More than half of respondents reported that they or someone they knew had experienced a breakdown. When asked to give details about the circumstances of their breakdown, 46 per cent of respondents said it was caused by a tyre-related problem, with fuel and engine-related problems cited as the second most common reasons.

Nicki Whittaker, spokeswoman for NFU Mutual pointed out the dangers associated with overloading horse boxes and trailers: “An overloaded horsebox is less stable, more difficult to steer and will take longer to stop. Overloading can also cause the tyres to overheat and wear rapidly which increases the chances of a tyre blowing out.”

In addition to the survey, a voluntary weighing exercise was conducted at the Equifest event on August 17, where 100 vehicles (ranging from 4x4s with trailers, through to 18 tonne purpose built equine transporters) were weighed as they entered the showground.

More than 50 per cent of all vehicles weighed were found to be overweight and, had they been subject to an official roadside check, 64 per cent of these cases would have resulted in a fixed penalty notice of between £60 and £200.

The most severe case of overloading would have resulted in a summons to court and all vehicles would have been prevented from further movement until the overload had been removed.

Sheila Hardy, Senior Executive in the Safety Department at The British Horse Society said : “The British Horse Society is delighted to be working on these very important issues with NFU Mutual. The constant changes to legislation for those driving equestrian vehicles makes life difficult but the issues that surround loading, tyre safety and breakdown cover are more easily addressed.

“The partnership that has developed between NFU Mutual, PRP Rescue Services and The British Horse Society shows the depth of concern felt by our organisations and over next 12 months we will be working together to improve awareness among all who drive equestrian transport.”

October is tyre safety month and NFU Mutual, the BHS and PRP Equine Rescue Services are urging horse owners to give horsebox and trailer safety as much thought as the ongoing care of their animals, beginning with the care and maintenance of their tyres.

The message is simple - make a PACT to check the tyres on your horsebox or trailer and stay safe.

PRESSURE – check ALL tyres when they are cold and before every journey. Correct tyre pressure is vital for safety.

AVOID – overloading your horsebox or trailer. Overloaded it’s less stable, takes longer to stop and is more difficult to steer. Overloading can cause overheated tyres, rapid wear and increases chances of a blow out.

CONDITION – check your tyres regularly especially if they have not been used for some time. Look for cracking, crazing, bulging. Without regular use they age more quickly.

TREAD DEPTH – check this regularly. Up to 3.5 tonnes the minimum legal depth is 1.6mm. For horseboxes above this weight it is 1mm.