Owning a horsebox or trailer can be a huge advantage if you need to transport your horse regularly, be it to events, lessons or just to meet friends for rides. Not to mention if you need to transport your horse urgently. So, it’s important that your vehicle is ready and roadworthy when you need to use it.
Storing your transport at your yard
Many yards offer storage of horseboxes
, but it’s important to make some considerations before this is arranged.
Whilst many will allow this free of charge, its important to check if there may be any additional charges per week or month for storing your transport. Additionally, you should consider if the place of storage is acceptable with your insurers, that your horsebox or trailer is insured appropriately in the event of damage or theft, and that your chosen storage location does not invalidate your insurance in any way.
Similarly for yard owners, they should ensure that any vehicle stored on their premises is insured appropriately, and taxed and MOT’d if they feel this is appropriate. Copies of the insurance and vehicle information should be kept on file by the yard owner.
You should also consider the practicality of the storage area. Ideally horseboxes and trailers should be parked on level hardstanding such as tarmac, concrete, or gravel. Storing your lorry or trailer on grass may be great in the dry summer months, but during wet winter conditions these areas could become muddy and render it difficult to move your transport when needed, as well as making the underside of the vehicle more prone to corrosion. You should also consider the way it is parked in the event of there being any issues such as a flat battery or mechanical problems for horseboxes. Could the horsebox be easily moved out of the area, and would it be possible to jump start from another vehicle, if necessary, or in the proximity of an electrical output to charge the battery.
If you use your horsebox or trailer to store items, you should also consider the practicality and security of this, especially if storing high value items such as tack and rugs. Storage in the summer months may be fine but ensure during the winter months that any tack and equipment won’t be prone to damp, leaks or infestations of any kind which may damage items. You should also check with your insurer if your tack is covered to be kept in the transport. You should also consider how easy your transport is to access from public areas or roads and take the necessary precautions to ensure it is locked, and additional anti-theft precautions if necessary, such as steering wheel locks or wheel clamps.
Finally, you should check the access times with the owner of the premises, especially if they live on site. It may be that they have limitations on times that the transport can be moved and may not be favourable to early morning wakes ups from horseboxes, hitching up or loading horses, or third parties using or accessing the lorry or trailer.
Maintaining Your Transport
Especially if you store your trailer or horsebox at your yard, its very easy to see it is still there every day, but what about checking it’s roadworthy? There is nothing worse than getting ready for a show only to find the horsebox battery is dead, or the trailer has a flat tyre.
It is wise to undertake regular checks to make sure that all is as expected with the transport, especially if not used regularly.
For trailers this is a little simpler, but you should still check regularly that the tyres have enough pressure, that the wheels are not seized, there is no perishing on the tyres, the brakes work and that there are no leaks. Especially checking ‘hidden’ issues such as the conditions of floor and ramps before every use is highly important, especially if they are under rubber matting.
Moving the trailer regularly can ensure that moving parts are not seized and taking the time every week or two to fully check over the trailer can be advantageous than discovering on the morning of use that there are issues.
Before using your trailer, you should check before each use that all the lights work correctly once hitched up to your vehicle, and that your mounted tyres and spare tyre are pumped up and in good condition. You should also check the hitch, mount, safety chains and wiring are all in good condition.
For a horsebox, the maintenance is a little more complex. Similarly, you should keep a check on the tyres, brakes, leaks, and general condition but there are also additional problems that can arise. Horseboxes that stand unused for some time can result in a flat battery, so it’s worth taking it out for a run every week or two when not in regular use. This will not only help maintain the life of the battery but will also help prevent the working parts from seizing, and help you spot any potential problems. Moving the horsebox will also help you notice if there are any other problems such as oil leaks under the parking area. Each horsebox is different and have different features, such as air brakes, generators and hydraulic ramps, and so you should make the appropriate checks for your vehicle.
Before using your horsebox, you should check the fuel level, oil levels, water level, and that you have enough windscreen wash, as well as ensure that the numberplate is clean, and all lights are working. For winter use, you should ensure that you have the facility to clear frosty windscreens with ease. Having a kit of useful items in the horsebox can be a great idea, as well as details of your insurer and local recovery service.
When you’ve used your horsebox or trailer, it should be fully cleaned out. This not only makes it ready for next use, but is more hygienic for the equines, and also will prevent damage or potential infestations. It’s a good idea to give the interior and exterior regular cleans as this can also help you spot any potential issues with the bodywork such as damage or corrosion. You should also take any necessary precautions in the living areas such as removing food or perishable items, emptying toilets, water tanks and turning off gas bottles. You could also disconnect your battery to prevent it going flat between uses.
You should use a reputable garage to give your horsebox or trailer an annual service in line with the vehicle recommendations. They will be able to make more in depth mechanical checks and advise on any other maintenance requirements to keep the horsebox in good order.
By considering these points with your horsebox storage and maintenance, it can ensure your horsebox or trailer is not only ready to use, but also safe to use, when needed.