One area of the economic downturn that affects most of the equestrian community is transport — but what can you do to save costs?

1. What about forming a syndicate?

For those who are keen to buy a vehicle, syndication is a viable budget-busting alternative. Richard Brooks of Withy King solicitors stresses the importance of a contract if entering into a syndicate and suggests that it should include the following:

• How long is the agreement?
• Can one person bring the agreement to an end, and if so, what happens then?
• What happens regarding valuation if one partner buys another out?
• What are the implications if one partner uses the lorry more than another?
• Who pays for servicing?
• What if a situation changes — for example, one partner no longer has their horse or the box is stolen?
• What if one partner can’t/won’t pay ongoing costs?

2. The sharing approach

Essex-based rider Clare Yetton says that despite owning her own transport, she has started sharing a trailer with fellow liveries at her yard.

“We have been sharing the travel of late due to fuel costs,” she says. “My yard owner has a little Equi-Trek Space Trekka trailer that suits this arrangement.”

3. Consider converting

Some drivers are benefiting from the reduced costs associated with converting their petrol-driven vehicles to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or Autogas), a natural gas resource and a by-product of oil production. The average price of LPG is, in the current climate, said to be less than half the cost of petrol although this is subject to change.

For more on conversion, visit www.greenfuel.org.uk

4. Hiring — not just for trailers

Insurance and running costs on 4x4s can be high, so if you don’t tow that often, why not consider hiring?

There are several companies in the UK that offer this service, which is ideal for people who own a trailer but don’t want the expense of running a large towing vehicle.

5. Keep it local

Trainer Andrew Gould says it is always a good idea to consider local shows and venues before looking at those further afield.

Dressage enthusiast Heike Huwald from Surrey saves fuel costs by hacking to events wherever possible and says this has an added bonus for her horse.

“I can get to lots of local places, such as cross-country competitions and sponsored rides, within 40 minutes at a relaxed walk. This also saves time for warming up and cooling down.”

6. Vegetable power?

Showing exhibitor Christian Schwetz makes biodiesel to save on his transport costs: “The fuel works out at around 12p a litre and is vegetable-oil based,” he says.

According to www.veggiepower.co.uk, the fuel runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine and produces approximately 80% less carbon dioxide emissions than conventional diesel fuel.

However, for tax purposes, there is a limit to how much biodiesel you can run a vehicle on in the UK. H&H strongly recommends you speak to an expert before considering this option.

7. What about hiring?

Andrew Dolby of Atacanter Horsebox Hire says hiring can be a very cost-effective way of transporting horses.

“You can hire a modern lorry that has a fuel consumption of 30 miles to the gallon, reliability and no hassle,” he says. Prices start at £99 a day.

For this article in full, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (30 October 2008)