Helpful hints and essential checks on Basic Horsebox Maintenance, because regular horsebox maintenance is all too easily ignored.
But breaking down on a small country lane or on the motorway in the pouring rain, with one or more horses in a horsebox isn’t anyone’s idea of fun.
It can and does happen and whether you’re only travelling to a local show or halfway across the country, a simple breakdown prevention check is essential.
Any breakdown can quickly turn into a nightmare; particularly when your horses are young, inexperienced or don’t travel well.
Organising Your Journey
The next time you’re organising your show schedule or busy checking your horse or pony, give a thought to your horsebox maintenance.
Download and print our easy-to-follow checklist for passing the UK MOT test and pin it up in your cab, in the tack room or on your noticeboard at home.
It’ll help keep your horsebox in good condition and you and your horse safe.
Horsebox Maintenance – Always :
Make sure your horsebox is serviced annually, including a thorough check on the brakes.
- Power-wash the outside and underside regularly, especially after use.
- Make sure the box or trailer is taxed and insured and that the lights and indicators are working correctly.
- If your lorry has a wooden floor, check it regularly for signs of rotting – reports of floors giving way while horses are in transit are not uncommon and can result in serious injury!
- Occasionally remove floor matting or bedding, power-wash inside and allow to dry thoroughly before replacing.
- Regularly check the tyres for signs of wear and ensure that tyre pressures are correct.
- Never use a single axle trailer to tow a horse
- Ensure the towing hitch is the correct height for the trailer and that the trailer can be towed level, to prevent uneven tyre wear.
- Always carry a fully charged mobile phone with you – even on short journeys. Make sure you carry the emergency helpline number for your breakdown or recovery company, your vet and your insurance company.
- Add a date in your diary to check your horsebox or trailer every month.
Horsebox Maintenance – Your Engine :
Always check all oils (including hydraulic oil) before you set off.
- Check all water levels (including windscreen washer) and that you have the correct concentration of coolant in your radiator for the weather conditions.
- Add an anticoagulant additive to the diesel to prevent the fuel from solidifying, particularly if extremely cold weather is forecast.
- Clean water/sediment traps regularly and ensure that the filter is replaced.
- Change oil and fuel filters regularly,especially after high mileage or a long winter break.
- Start up and leave the engine running for 5 minutes before driving to allow the engine and pipes to warm up if a turbo charger is fitted. After running the engine at high revs, allow it to tick over for a minute or so before switching off to allow the turbo to cool.
- If your diesel engine overheats and loses coolant water, make sure you replace the water slowly, while the engine is running.
- Check all pulley belts are in good working condition.
Make sure you pressurise your brakes and check for leaks with the engine switched off.
- Check that all self-drain valves are operating and drain any condensation from the system.
- Warm-up your brakes by driving a short distance and applying the brakes intermittently, as when cold your brakes can bite and cause your horse discomfort.
- Ensure your brakes are adjusted correctly and regularly.
Check all internal lights as well as external before very journey, particularly if you expect to be driving in dark or dim light.
- Check all warning lights, the bulbs tend to blow easily.
- Fit loading and unloading lights, they’re essential in winter.
- Unloading lights should clearly illuminate the ramp and the surrounding area.
- Loading lights should illuminate the ramp and the interior of the horsebox.
- Make sure the lights face away from your horse to avoid glare.
Horsebox Maintenance – Tyres :
Very important … make sure your tyres are roadworthy and properly inflated.
- Always carry a useable spare.
- Ensure all your tyre pressures are correct.
- 16" and 17" tyres are becoming very difficult to replace as stocks are diminishing. Get advice about replacing those tyres with a more common 17.5" size, to avoid delays if you ever require roadside assistance.
- Check tyre condition, particularly if your horsebox has been left idle over the winter months, as they may have cracked on the rims as well as reduced in pressure.
- When buying a horsebox ensure that cross-plys and radials are not mixed on the same axle. Front tyres should always be new. Rear tyres can be Precision Grade remoulds.
- Check the inside tyres on the rear axle(s) as they can perish or go flat without being noticed.