A lot of horseboxes and trailers may have stood idle since the start of winter. Many people are now well into planning for the season ahead with their horse and with it, getting their horseboxes and trailers out.

Our team have come up with some top tips for getting going again with your horsebox or trailer.

Book in for a service

The British Horse Society recommend getting your trailer or horsebox professionally serviced at least once a year. When booking your service, make sure you use a reputable company that specialises in equestrian vehicles.

Protect yourself with insurance

Before getting back out and about, make sure you check that you have the right horse trailer insurance  or horsebox insurance.

When considering your insurance, ensure you always account for worst case scenarios such as breaking down with your horse onboard. Regardless of the cause of your breakdown, you need expert and responsive help to get you, your horse, and your vehicle moved to safety as soon as possible.

It is always worth visiting our website or picking up the phone and speaking to one of the team here at SEIB to make sure that your policy meets your needs.

Tax and MOT your horsebox

Don't forget to check the tax and MOT expiry dates for your horsebox. Ensure both are up to date before hitting the road to avoid any legal complications or penalties. Regularly reviewing these dates ensures that your horsebox is roadworthy and compliant with legal requirements for safe travel.

Check tyre pressures

Ensuring proper tyre maintenance for horseboxes and trailers is crucial for the safety and well-being of all passengers – both human and equine.

Check tyre pressure frequently, adjusting according to the manufacturer's recommendations and load requirements. Cold weather can cause tyre pressure to drop, so ensure tyres are inflated to the correct level before each journey.

Regularly inspect tyres for signs of wear, including tread depth, sidewall condition, cuts, bulges, and uneven wear. Ensure tyres comply with legal requirements, especially for heavier horseboxes.

Rotate tyres regularly to promote even wear and extend their lifespan. This is particularly important for heavier horseboxes, which may exert more pressure on specific tyres.

Be aware of the age of your tyres

Tyre pressure and tread levels are a must do, but knowing the age of your tyres can be just as important when it comes to avoiding a breakdown.

In 2021, new legislation was introduced which made it illegal for the front axles of HGVs (vehicles above 3.5 tonnes) to use tyres aged over 10 years old.

So, while your horsebox tyres may have enough tread, it’s important to be aware of how old they are too. You can check the age of your tyres yourself, there’s a prominent DOT marking on the sidewall with the final four digits showing first the week and then the year of manufacture.

If the number is 0212, this means they were made in the second week of 2012.

With 11% of all requests for CallAssist’s help being tyre related, we really recommend you carrying out regular checks on your horseboxes, trailers and towing vehicles.

Check the floor

Regularly checking horsebox and trailer floors is hugely important. A sound and well-maintained floor ensures a stable and secure platform for the horses during transportation. Over time, floors may develop wear, weakness, or damage, which, if unnoticed, can lead to serious accidents and injuries.

Frequent inspections of the floor condition are crucial to identify any signs of wear, rot, or weakness. Wooden floors, common in many older horseboxes and trailers, are susceptible to decay, especially if exposed to liquid such as rain, water and urine. Metal floors also pose their own issues and may develop rust, compromising their strength. Checking for loose or protruding screws, bolts, or nails is equally important, as they can cause injuries to the horses. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs ensure the structural integrity of the floor, mitigating the risk of accidents and providing a safe and comfortable environment for the horses during transit.

Look after your horsebox battery 

Check the battery terminals for corrosion, ensuring they are clean and tight. Charge the battery when not in use, especially during periods of inactivity, to avoid depletion. Cold weather can drain batteries quickly, so consider investing in a trickle charger to maintain its charge during storage. Additionally, inspect the battery for any signs of wear, such as leaks or damage, and replace it if necessary.

Fluid levels and quality

Check all fluid levels, including oil, coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Top up or replace fluids as needed.

Ensure that all fluids are of the recommended quality and suitable for winter temperatures.

Fuel and fluid

When a horsebox is laid up for several months over winter, the diesel fuel sitting in the fuel tank can undergo degradation. Over time, diesel fuel can accumulate water and other contaminants, leading to microbial growth, fuel separation, and a decrease in fuel quality.

Stale diesel fuel can cause starting problems, engine performance issues, and even damage to fuel system components. To prevent these issues, consider adding a diesel fuel stabiliser to the tank before storing the horsebox for an extended period. This additive helps preserve the integrity of the diesel fuel and prevent degradation during storage.

Additionally, it's essential to drain and replace stale diesel fuel if the horsebox has been stored for an extended period without fuel stabilisation measures.

Test runs

After a prolonged period of inactivity, don't forget to conduct test runs before hitting the road again. This allows you to identify any issues early on and address them promptly.

By following these tips and incorporating regular maintenance into your routine, you can significantly reduce the risk of breakdowns and ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience for you and your horses.

About SEIB

SEIB have been arranging horse insurance and horse trailer insurance for over 50 years. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen.