A worryingly high number of horse owners are unaware of the latest towing regulations and lack basic knowledge of safe towing procedures and vital trailer safety checks, according to specialist equestrian breakdown service providers, Equestrian Support Services (ESS).

ESS held “Trailer Trials” at this year’s British Equine Event, in partnership with the RAC. Visitors to the event were invited to manoeuvre a trailer through a course, specially designed by the British School of Motoring, and were marked on their technique and speed.

Participants were also asked a series of questions about towing safety, including maintenance checks, licence regulations and weight and speed restrictions.

Alarmingly, a significant number were unable to list necessary trailer maintenance checks or the risks posed to a horse while in transit.

Knowledge of new licence regulations, which require drivers who passed their driving test after January 1997 to take a separate towing test, was also surprisingly low. This lack of awareness could mean a significant number of horse owners on the road are risking prosecution.

ESS Managing Director Nick Hamilton says: “More than 200 people took part in these trailer trials and of those, only 50% were aware of the new regulations. A large number were unaware of the basic precautions you need to take when travelling with horseboxes and trailers, and unfortunately, in our experience, this is not uncommon.

“We receive over 5,000 calls from customers every year who are victims of a breakdown or accident. Many of these incidents are preventable through basic maintenance checks and better awareness.”

International event rider Mary King was among those who took part in the trials and demonstrated excellent technique to complete the course in an impressive time.

She says: “Towing a trailer isn’t as easy or as simple as it looks — there are a great many factors to consider before setting off. The ESS trailer trials are a great way to make people more aware of the dangers involved.”

  • For more information about driving with trailers contact the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (tel: 01792 782341) or visit the National Trailer & Towing Association’s website: www.ntta.co.uk
  • For more information about Equestrian Support Services (tel: 01300 348997) or visit www.equestriansupport.co.uk