Horseboxes don’t come cheap, which is why horse owners are getting creative with ways to make the investment worthwhile, discovers Andrea Oakes
1. Garage door repair business
The advertising slogans on the side may give away the fact that Penny Powell’s 3.5-tonne conversion is also used by her husband Mark for his garage door repair business. But it took her and her pure-bred Spanish mare, Arquera, to Royal Windsor this summer — and, as Penny points out, there are benefits to its dual-purpose nature.
“I book the horsebox in Mark’s diary when I want to take Arquera somewhere,” says Penny, who lives in East Sussex. “It’s always full of diesel and ready to go, so I never have to worry about a flat battery or seized brakes.”
2. Plants business
When Martyn Lewins’ trailer is not transporting his Irish draught gelding, Benny, to arena eventing competitions, the Ifor Williams HB511 becomes a stock wagon for his Derbyshire-based business.
“It’s just the job for plants — the ramp, height and length allow me to get four Dutch trolleys in and out very easily,” says Martyn, who runs Mill Hill Garden Centre and adjoining tack shop Bobbo Equestrian.
“I bought Benny last year and at 17hh he was too big for my old trailer, so I invested in a new one that’s also ideal for these heavy trolleys. I get some funny looks when I arrive at the wholesaler with a horsebox, but I can collect more than anyone else.”
Martyn’s business insurance takes care of any technicalities about use, which is a sticking point for many trying to make their transport multi-task.
4. Hermes deliveries
Sarah Black has also cleared this hurdle, reaching perhaps the ultimate nirvana by using her transport for work and play.
“I deliver parcels in it for Hermes [delivery company] as my job,” explains Sarah, who was a secondary school teacher until she was made redundant and took over part of her mum’s delivery round. “It’s a little Renault Master 3.5-tonne van, insured through Hermes for delivering, and carries around 60 parcels per day.”
A layer of straw is all that’s needed before Sarah loads up her 16.3hh sport horse Casper for eventing, and occasionally her 13.2hh Welsh pony Rueben for a beach trip.
“It does have ‘Horses in transit’ stickers all over it, though, so customers sometimes ask if that’s what I’m delivering,” adds Sarah, of County Durham.
5. Physiotherapist’s treatment room
Chartered physiotherapist Clare Howard’s Friesian gelding Amke travels by Equi-Trek trailer to dressage lessons and shows, but she can quickly convert the multi-purpose vehicle into a treatment room and tradestand for her business — The Balanced Rider.
“It has extra roof vents and windows to make it as light and airy as possible, plus heating, lighting and fans so that it can be used for rider physio for longer in the season,” explains Clare. “This also makes it more comfortable for Amke.”
6. Milking parlour
Sue Root has perhaps one of the most unusual uses for her horsebox, when not transporting her ponies.
“I pressure-wash it and use it as a milking parlour for my herd of goats,” she explains. “Twice a day the ladies trot up in there and are connected to the little milking machine. It’s perfect as I can keep it clean and pest free.”
Once the horses are unloaded into show stabling and any mess is swept away, even a trailer can be turned into comfortable accommodation.
Claire Shearer lays cream carpet in her trusty pink Ifor Williams 510, fits a gazebo to its side and pumps up an inflatable double bed.
“It’s ideal for staying over at events such as Balmoral and the Dublin Show,” she says. “We don’t yet have the funds for a luxury lorry and we prefer to be close to our horses in case anything happens, so we don’t stay in fancy accommodation.”
Deciding what horsebox insurance you need might fill…
8. Wedding transport
For sheer ingenuity, few can beat equine vet Alison Swift and her husband Garth.
“We estimate that we saved around £2,000 by using our lorry as our wedding transport,” explains Garth. “We cleaned it inside and out before decorating it with carpet, curtains, two armchairs and an old-fashioned television.
“As I worked for DAF Trucks and Alison has horses, it was perfect. Once married, we converted it back for Alison’s competition warmbloods — but we did use it as a removal van when we bought our new house last year.”
Know the rules and regulations
- Check any intended additional use of your transport does not invalidate your insurance. “Horsebox insurers have underwritten the policies on the basis that your vehicle is being used to transport horses and the relatively low premiums charged represent this,” says Guy Prest of KBIS. “The standard cover — Social, Domestic and Pleasure — allows you to drive your horsebox privately for your own personal use. Class 1 Own Business cover is designed to facilitate the use of your horsebox with your own business, while Hire and Reward use is required for the transportation of goods not owned by you in return for financial payment. “If you intend to change the way you use your horsebox (particularly if this involves use in connection with a business), speak to your insurer/broker first.”
- Read up about operators’ licences, needed for some larger vehicles and those that are commercially operated: gov.uk/topic/transport/vehicle-operator-licences.
- Investigate hygiene regulations if you plan to use your vehicle to serve food: food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/food-hygiene/charity-community-groups.
- Structural alterations can affect the safety of the vehicle for horses, so seek the advice of a suitable horsebox mechanic.
The full version of this feature was first published in the 13 July issue of Horse & Hound magazine