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Insurers and rescue services are warning horse owners to take extra care with their lorries after a spate of breakdowns in the heatwave.

“We are dealing with an awful lot of distressing situations where people break down and do not have any water on board for their horses,” said Claire Barker from PRP Rescue Services.

“One vehicle broke down carrying 6 horses, including a foal. They were still more than 1hr from home and the driver was not carrying any water.”

Nicki Whittaker of NFU Mutual, which reports a sudden increase in breakdowns since the start of the heatwave, recommends carrying twice as much water as you would normally.

“As the estimated recovery time for a horsebox breakdown is 60-90min, this could cause real problems if people are unprepared,” she said.

High temperatures can aggravate any existing damage to tyres, the cause of many of the call-outs received by NFU Mutual.

“Ensure that coolant levels, tyres and batteries are checked,” said Nicki Whittaker.

Claire Barker said that 62% of breakdowns over a recent weekend were due to tyres.

“Underinflation adds to the problem, causing friction and even more heat, which can prove too much for weak spots, causing punctures and blow-outs,” she warned.

“Heat can also aggravate cooling system problems — low coolant level, leaking hoses and broken electric cooling fans can all result in overheating and expensive damage.”

Rider Karen McDonald broke down in Gloucestershire on 13 July as her vehicle overheated.

“I always think, ‘assume the worst’, so if I take my horses out I always carry extra water and feed,” she told H&H. “We had 4 5-gallon containers with us, thank goodness, as they drank such a lot.”

Remember, carrying more water will effect the weight of your vehicle, so ensure you are not over the payload limit.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (25 July 2013)