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Transporting Horses In A Horsebox or Horse Trailer

August 29, 2013

horse-trailer-loadingTraveling with horses in a horsebox is commonly an easy and stress free experience for all, including the horse. To minimise the chances of experiencing any difficulties or avoidable problems, it is advisable to consider certain points prior to setting off.

Plan Your Route

It is advisable to plan your route carefully, taking into account low bridges and narrow twisty roads, etc. Keeping to major roads is often advisable as they commonly have better surfaces and there will be less likelihood for the need of sudden braking or evasive manoeuvres.

When transporting horses long distances it’s important to plan suitable stopping points. The horses may need to be unloaded and loaded again following a rest, therefore suitable locations should be searched for before you set off.

Horsebox Checks

Before attempting any journey, vehicle safety checks must be completed. This includes tyre pressures, checking lights, indicators, fluid levels for oil, water and washer fluid.

Loading Horses Into A Horsebox

Before you even attempt to load your horse, ensure the vehicle is in good order without any sharp or dangerous edges which could cause harm. The vehicle and ramp should be stable to ensure it feels stable on entry.

The horse should be suitably protected with boots or bandages and sufficient padding and bedding in the lorry already.

When all goes to plan and assuming your horse is calm and happy with being transported, you should have your lorry or trailer set up ready, the ramp down, the guide rails set up, and the partitions ready for use.

Your horse should have enough room to be walked briskly up to the ramp in a straight line, straight on board and be secured, with partitions and safety devices put into place quickly after loading and your horse kept calm and reassured at all times.


Make sure your horse is dressed appropriately, and it’s important that you have sufficient equipment on-board your vehicle to deal with any likely events. Should you be delayed, it’s important to have hay and water available. Spare ropes and head collars in case of breakage, additional rugs in case of a change in weather conditions, food and water for you and your passengers.

horse-lorry-financeDuring The Journey

Always try to limit braking and steering to gentle movements. Bear in mind that the horse is standing and unsecured so aggressive manoeuvres will easily destabilise and unsettle a horse.

Keep an eye and an ear out for your horse whilst travelling. Horses will often calm down once the journey begins, but it is essential to constantly keep an eye and ear out for signs of distress.

Horses that become unsettled during transit should be observed. There is normally a good reason, including: poor ventilation and horses becoming too hot, insects, need of water and erratic driving.

For horses travelling on long journeys, one of the biggest concerns is Transit Fever. This is generally caused by tying horses up by their head collars so that they are stuck in an unnatural head-held-high posture. Normally, they would put their head down, but while travelling they are prevented from doing so. This will affect the clearance of mucus from the airways, as well as causing bacteria to descend towards the lung. Together, this increases the risk of pneumonia and chest infection, and affects about 6% of horses if they are transported for more than 8-12hr. Regular rest stops are important to allow the horse to rest and resume a more natural head position.

Still looking for your own horse to take on a road trip? Take a look at our horse finance page to see how Pegasus Finance can help.

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