As the weather heats up, horse owners are being urged to check their tyres before travelling to shows this summer to avoid a tyre blowout.

Earlier this year, tyre safety organisation TyreSafe revealed that 78% of us risk harming our horses by driving with under-inflated tyres (news, 5 May).

Experts warn that temperature rises in July and August can aggravate any existing damage to tyres. Under-inflation adds to the problem by causing friction, and additional heat can prove too much for weak spots.

Alison Cox of rural insurers NFU Mutual, which has seen several accidents of this nature in the past two months, added: “Under-inflated tyres are a major cause of incidents as they flex when they overheat, which can lead to blowouts.

“Owners also need to avoid overloading their vehicle, as an overloaded horsebox or trailer is less stable, more difficult to steer and will take longer to stop. Overloading is another reason for tyres overheating, which again increases the chances of a tyre blowing out.”

A worrying number of horse owners seem unaware of the potential danger of failing to carry out basic checks. According to a survey in 2012 by the British Horse Society, 28% did not know the legal minimum tyre tread, while 7% never check their tyre pressure, oil levels, indicators and water levels.

Julia Hyslop was transporting her Clydesdale Molly to a show recently when she had a blowout on a front tyre of her lorry. “We were on the M73 [in Scotland], but luckily we were travelling in the slow lane so we could pull over,” she said. “Fortunately, the tyre could be replaced with Molly still in the box, and she was very good — especially as it was her first time in the lorry.”

Ms Hyslop added that the tyres had been checked, but warned that other owners should find out the age of theirs. “We don’t do a huge amount of miles so they wouldn’t wear out, but the tyres were older than I thought — about eight years old,” she said.

NFU advises owners to ensure coolant levels, oil levels and batteries are checked on a regular basis, too, because these can all lead to problems during hot weather.

First published in Horse & Hound magazine on 24 July 2014