Robinsons has sent out more than 150 letters to all owners of its Requisite trailers with timber flooring, warning of potential problems following a story in H&H (news, 4 August). It has also temporarily removed the trailers from its website.
The letter, dated 2 August, states that Robinsons has “recently been made aware of a small number of instances where the integrity of the wooden floor structure has become compromised”.
But Garry Stevens from Torquay, whose horse suffered severe trauma when its hindlegs fell through the floor of his trailer, got in touch with H&H following the 4 August story, claiming he lodged a complaint with Robinsons in February.
Sarah Smith, who first told H&H of problems with the trailer range when her horse Frankie, who is still bandaged and on box-rest, fell through the floor of her trailer on 14 July, said: “If I had received a letter like this before my accident then I would have been straight out to my trailer to look for weakness.”
The letter asks owners to check for extra “give” or a “springing feeling” from the floor to assess whether the trailer is at risk and to examine the underside of the floor, which is covered in a fibreglass membrane. for signs of weakness.
Robinsons started fitting aluminium floors last autumn — the company says the decision was part of a “natural progression”.
Mr Stevens was transporting his eight-year-old Western and trick riding horse Dakota when the rear of his trailer floor gave way on 12 February this year.
He was travelling at 40mph. Dakota’s hind shoes were ripped off and his off-hind hoof was ground down. Due to the severe trauma to the fetlock and pastern joints, Dakota had to be retired.
Mr Stevens said: “I would never load another live animal into one of these trailers regardless of the type of floor.”
H&H has also heard of a third incident in which Lancashire-based Karen Bunning found a hole in the floor of her trailer.
Robinsons said it has received about 20 replies from people concerned about their trailers since the letter was sent out.
Managing director Jim Bentham said: “We fervently believe this is a bad batch of timber, and we are in conversation with our supplier, who has been on holiday.”
He added: “I would be happy to travel my horse in a Requisite trailer with an aluminium floor or a well-maintained timber floor.”
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (25 August 2011)