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Competitors and leisure riders are downsizing from HGV lorries (now known as large goods vehicles — LGVs) to save money and escape red tape, according to industry reports.

Cheshire-based Stratford Horseboxes says more than half of its part-exchanges are coming from people swapping over to 3.5tonne horseboxes.

One such is event rider Kitty Boggis, who traded in a 26tonne five-horse box.

Kitty said: “I made the decision after reading the H&H story about driver’s hours [news, 5 March]. I had no idea of the regulations.”

Stratford Horseboxes’ Nicola Elliot said: “We have a yard full of 7.5tonne lorries that have come in on part-exchange.

“People are trying to avoid the hassle of tachographs and operators’ licences, having to get their lorry plated instead of an MOT and taking it to a specialist mechanic for servicing.”

Haverfordwest-based racehorse trainer Peter Bowen has downsized from a 7.5tonne to a 3.5tonne box.

Karen Bowen, Peter’s wife, said: “When our big box was fully loaded it was overweight, so it was no use to us. We have been using trailers for a while.

“But the two-horse Renault box uses half the petrol that the cars and trailers do — and any of our girls can drive it without having to take a separate test.”

Jon Phillips of the Organisation of Horse Box and Trailer Owners has noticed such a rise in members downsizing their boxes that it is now offering a new insurance package, specifically for drivers of 3.5tonne lorries.

“The fashion for smaller boxes is not just being driven by the recession, it’s the red tape that surrounds driving the bigger boxes,” he said.

Mr Phillips shows ponies and has a 27tonne lorry.

He said: “Because of the working time directive I drive to the show and my groom drives back, but not everyone is in a position to do that.”

And Justin Bennett of Oakley Horseboxes in Hertfordshire said although demand for their high-specification LGV lorries is still very high, he’s seen an increase in sales of small boxes.

He believes 3.5tonne boxes also appeal to people who previously used a trailer.

“If your daughter took her test after 1997 she has to have a special licence to pull a trailer. But she can drive a small box on her car licence,” he said.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (11 June, ’09)

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