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Henning Horseboxes' Guide To Buying A New Or Used Horsebox

Buying a horsebox can be a very testing time; there are so many factors to consider, it can be hard to know where to start. So here are a few tips and hints on how to get your search moving.

Making a wish list

Firstly, it is important to know what you want from your new purchase! What are you going to use the box for – is it something to pop out and about in now and again for a nice hack or a local clinic, is it to stay away in at weekends whilst competing, is it something for the kids and pony club events? Day trips, weekend trips, short journeys, long journeys – these are all considerations to factor into your choice of vehicle.

Do you want living, do you want a bathroom area, is a luton important? How many people will you want to sit in the living area? How much storage do you need – not only for the horse stuff but for the people stuff too! You would be amazed how much paraphernalia you need for a weekend away with horses and children. Are you happy with tack lockers in the horse area or would you prefer them to be underlockers, or even storage under the bench seats that can be accessed from outside? Do you want a water tank? Do you need an electric hook up system? Would you like a lorry that has a cut through?

It may seem a lot to think about but if you have a checklist, it makes it much easier to go through endless adverts and be able to whittle it down to a few. It is also a good idea to prioritise your wish list as there is always the possibility that you will have to compromise somewhere along the line due to budget or availablilty. Something that should never be compromised, however, is the safety of the vehicle as a horsebox.

What are you carrying?

Of course, the next consideration needs to be the horse/s that you want to transport. What size and weight is your horse or pony and how long is it? You would be surprised how often someone purchases a horsebox only to find the horse won’t fit in it, they’re simply too long – the width of a horsebox can vary quite a lot and a matter of a few inches can make a massive difference to the comfort of your horse.

It is very important to ensure that the box has enough payload for you and your horse, but also that is has the correct reinforcement and that suitable materials have been used – a lorry floor that has been made to carry ponies or small horses may not be strong enough to ensure the safety of a warmblood or a heavy weight cob, for example. The same goes for the wall structure; something designed to carry two 15hh horses is not necessarily going to be suitable for a much bigger horse or horses, even if it has enough payload. The bulkheads must also be suitably reinforced to cope with the animals you intend to carry. This is especially important with the 3.5t lorries, as the horses are directly behind the drivers cab and if the reinforcement is not strong enough, the results could be devastating for everyone concerned.

Asking the right questions

So now you are armed with a wish list – and you have considered your budget – it is time to look at some adverts for horseboxes. Whether you are looking at a new build or a second-hand horsebox, the questions remain the same. Do not be afraid to ask!

Here are a few suggestions on some important factors;

Questions you may want to ask when considering a new horsebox;

  • Can I see samples of materials?
  • Do you have step by step photos or videos of the build process?
  • Can I see lorries in different stages of their builds?
  • Are the conversions on new vehicles or on a second-hand chassis?
  • What does the warranty cover - does it cover both build quality and mechanics and how long does it last?
  • Are they open to a pre purchase inspection?
  • What structural reinforcements are in place to guarantee that the box is fit for purpose?
  • Is there a certificate to verify the payload?

Questions you may want to ask when considering a second-hand horsebox;

  • Is there any history on the vehicle? Not just service history, but information on where the lorry is kept, how often it is used, whether it stands for long periods of time – all of these factors will have an effect on the box.
  • Are there any signs of leaks? This is a common problem with older boxes; by nature, these boxes flex all the time, so screws and trimmings can work themselves loose and things like sealant will break down over time, meaning windows and skylights often suffer from leaks. The main concern is the damage that these leaks can cause, and it is not always visible – damage to walls, floors and the structure can be fairly sever, even from a small leak over time.
  • Do they have a weighbridge certificate?
  • How many horses/ponies is it stalled for?
  • Are all the appliances working?

This list is certainly not exhaustive; in fact, the questions are endless, so if there’s anything that you’re unsure about, do not be afraid to ask.

Pre purchase checks

So now that you have managed to find a few possibilities that suit you, your family and most importantly, your horses, what should you do now? Well, before you buy a horsebox, you should make sure it is safe! There is no point in spending thousands of pounds on any Horsebox, however pretty or packed full of ‘mod cons’ it is, if you don’t know it is safe and fit for purpose. Get a pre purchase inspection done – I cannot reiterate enough just how important this is.

What is a Pre Purchase Inspection and why are they important?

When talking about pre purchase inspection on horse lorries, it is important that a few things are understood. A mechanical inspection will not tell you about the safety of the box and neither will the MOT history, it only tells you that it is safe to drive on the road – the horse area actually has little or no bearing on the MOT. So, although it is important to check the MOT history, as it will give you an insight to any previous problems, it will not tell you that it is safe to put your horses in.

The main reason we advise all of our customers to get a Pre Purchase Inspection (PPI) done is because it could potentially save you thousands of pounds and ensure that your money is well spent on a horsebox that is safe and fit for purpose.

We cannot stress enough how important this is. There are a number of reasons why a PPI is so important but the first, and probably most important, is that this industry is totally unregulated. There is no annual MOT or safety test that legally has to be carried out on the horsebox part of a vehicle and, unlike Caravans, lorries with living are not even required by law to have yearly safety checks on appliances or to be certified as safe. This means that anyone selling a lorry could be totally unaware that they are selling a dangerous lorry; in fact, most sellers we come across are mortified when a dangerous issue shows up at an inspection.

What does a Pre Purchase Inspection cover?

It is important that the lorry is not only checked over mechanically but structurally too.

The following should all be checked;

  • Is the floor safe and sound?
  • Are the chassis rails in good order?
  • Are the walls sound and do they have some kind of structure to them?
  • Has the lorry been well looked after and maintained?
  • Are there any leaks anywhere, as leaks can cause unseen damage to the structure of the lorry?
  • Is there excessive rust in places that are not relevant to an MOT?
  • Are there sharp edges that could potentially injure a horse or person?
  • Are the partitions safe and well fitted?
  • Is the ramp in good working order and safe?

These are just some examples of what we look for during a PPI.

Why should I have a Pre Purchase Inspection?

If we take the indications within the market now as a general guideline, on average, about one in five horseboxes passes a basic safety inspection, regardless of whether they are trade or private sales, second-hand boxes or new builds. This is both appalling and incredibly frightening.

For most people, buying a horsebox is a massive financial commitment that is going to be carrying so much more than a load – our horses are by no means a replaceable tool with which to do a job; they are a beloved part of our families. Very sadly, we have seen the direct impact of transporting horses in boxes that are not fit for purpose and the traumatic results of what happens when they fail – the aftermath is truly horrific for all concerned.

So, the message I would like to send out once again is, this is a big investment that you will want to last for five to ten years and it really must be safe for you and the members of your family, including the four legged ones. Do not buy a horsebox without a professional independent inspection by a knowledgeable person who has experience not only of how a lorry should be built or run mechanically, but of how horses behave.

It is important to remember that a PPI is only the beginning. We recommend that people get yearly safety checks of their horseboxes to ensure that safety is maintained throughout the life of the lorry.

Want to find out more about the importance of a Pre Purchase Inspection? You can find lots of helpful and informative videos on Henning Horseboxes’ Facebook page.

To enquire about a Pre Purchase Inspection or any horsebox and trailer repairs and alterations, please contact Henning Horseboxes via email at [email protected] or give them a call;

Wayne: 07762792996
Kate: 07731887547 or 01580240157
Henning Horseboxes
Transport Repair
Published on 23-03-2021
Henning Horseboxes is a family run horsebox company with an extensive knowledge of horses that has been developed from years of owning and transporting horses all over the UK and Europe. With your horse's safety at the forefront of everything they do, Henning Horseboxes build, repair and maintain horse lorries, trucks and trailers, with quality materials at competitive prices, meaning that anyone can afford the protection of their horse whilst travelling. They also specialise in both Pre Purchase Inspections and Safety Inspections and will happily travel all over the country to ensure their customers are making safe purchases and that their vehicles stay safe for the duration of their ownership.