Most horses will have to be transported at some point in their lives, whether infrequently to a new yard or the vet, or regularly for competitions and hacking. This means you will need a method of transportation for your equine friends, which will include either a motorised horsebox or a trailer towed on the back of your vehicle. If you’re transporting your horses regularly, purchasing your own lorry or trailer is more cost-effective than borrowing, renting or hiring one.
Difference Between a Horsebox & Trailer
A horsebox (sometimes referred to as a lorry), is a motorised vehicle solely designed to transport equines. Depending on how large the lorry is, they can often carry several horses, but most will easily accommodate 2 large horses with plenty of space to spare for equipment.
A horse trailer is a mobile structure that you can attach to the back of your vehicle as a separate towed unit. A trailer can house 2 horses, and they will either stand facing forward or backward with a partition in between. Be mindful that two large horses may make you overweight, so one large horse or 2 ponies may be more suitable for a trailer.
Pros & Cons of Horseboxes vs. Trailers
- Easy to park and manoeuvre. No hitching up required
- More fuel efficient than towing
- Better storage capabilities with spaces to sit and relax
- You don’t need a large vehicle or truck as your primary car as you don’t need to tow
- Can be expensive if purchasing it new
- An additional vehicle to Tax, MOT & Service
- Most 3.5T horseboxes can carry a 1.2T payload, which is not enough for two horses
- Cheap and easy to maintain
- Still affordable to purchase brand new
- Insurance is not expensive
- No road tax is required for trailers
- Can be difficult to manoeuvre and park
- Requires a large car/truck to tow it
- Little to no storage space
- Required to undertake trailer test
MOT, Servicing and Driving Licences
It can become a little complicated when it comes to what is legally required when driving a horsebox or trailer so let’s break it down.
MOTs & Servicing for Horseboxes & Trailers
If you get caught driving an unsuitable or unsafe lorry or trailer you can be fined, given penalty points or even banned from driving. With a horse lorry, it is worth completing a logbook of checks before driving as well as investing in a “lorry sat-nav” so you don’t get caught out by low bridges and small country lanes. Finally, as with any other vehicle, your horsebox will require an annual MOT inspection to ensure it is road legal and safe to drive. Alongside this, it is worth getting additional checks throughout the year or before any long journeys. This is to ensure that the flooring is stable, attachments are secure and there are no broken parts which could injure the horses.
With a trailer, it is vital to check the trailer is securely attached to the towbar – making sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s guidance. The breakaway cable needs to be attached securely so that if the trailer becomes detached the brakes of the trailer engage and comes to a stop. Before travelling, go through all the checks; flooring, wheels, lights, indicators etc and take an additional person with you where possible. You can get a free safety check for trailers up to 3,500KG through the National Trailer & Towing Association via their safety check scheme.
Driving Licences Required for Horseboxes & Trailers
In order to drive something heavier than a 3.5T horsebox you will need a Category C1 licence. This type of licence specifically allows you to drive vehicles between 3.5T to 7.5T without a trailer. For reference, anything over 7.5T will require a Class C licence. It is worth noting that you do not need a CPC licence to transport horses for leisure or hobbies; this is only needed when transporting animals professionally or for profit.
However, the type of HGV licence required for a 7.5T vehicle depends on the age of the driver and when they received their category B car driving licence. For those who passed before 1st January 1997, there are no requirements to add a further entitlement to their licence. The C1 entitlement which is required will already be included as they have grandfather rights. They may also have a C1 + E entitlement which means they can also have a drawbar trailer weighing up to 750 kg as well.
Trailer licences are also a bit complex. Since December 2021, the trailer test changed its format. Even if you passed your car test after the 1st of January 1997, you are allowed to tow a trailer up to 3,500KG. This is great for equestrians as there are no additional fees or qualifications needed. However, it’s worthwhile reading about how to drive one as they are not as easy as they seem – especially reversing!
For further information on transporting horses in lorries or trailers, including safety checks and documentation requirements, check out the government’s website for guidance on the transportation of horses.
Why Should You Insure Your Horsebox or Trailer?
As it is a motorised vehicle, it’s a legal requirement to get insurance on your horsebox if you plan to drive it on UK roads, as with any road vehicle. Replacing or repairing a horsebox or lorry can be expensive so it’s essential to find the type of cover that works for you. At Carriagehouse Insurance, we offer excellent Roadside Rescue and Recovery cover provided by Equine Rescue Services and a Motor Legal Expenses policy if required.
While insurance for Horse Trailers isn’t a legal requirement it is still advisable to have cover on your trailer as it most likely isn’t covered by your normal car insurance. This kind of insurance is available for privately owned trailers and can be incorporated into other policies such as Horse & Carriage, Horse & Pony or even our Donkey Insurance.
Horseboxes & Trailers in Summary
There are many differences between horseboxes and trailers; it’s worth carefully considering the pros and cons of each to work out which is best for you and your horse/s. A lorry might be more convenient if you regularly travel to events and competitions. In contrast, an occasional trip to a local hacking route or vet might only require a trailer.
It is also worth noting that insurance on a horsebox or trailer does not cover a horse or pony whilst in transit – horses and ponies must be insured separately. If you are unsure of the type of cover that you require or wish to see if there are other options available, please contact us to discuss your individual circumstances – we will be happy to help.