You have decided to buy a second-hand horsebox or trailer, but where do you start — and what questions should you ask?

There are two choices: buy privately or via a manufacturer or dealer.

The advantage of buying from a manufacturer is that you have a proper warranty, says Charles Oakley of Oakley horseboxes.

“You know that all the necessary checks will have been made,” he reasons.

Hilary Janion of Equi-Trek advises: “Wherever you buy, always make sure that whatever you’re buying has a full service history, and run an HPI check [] to ensure that it doesn’t have finance owing or a chequered past.”

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Jon Phillips from The Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners gives his tips on what to look out for when viewing second-hand horseboxes for sale.

Mechanical checks

  • Look for rust, damp patches and any rotting.
  • Check that the ramp woodwork, hinges and springs are all in good condition and that the ramp can be lifted by one person.
  • Check there are no oil leaks from the engine and that the oil light doesn’t come on when the engine is started.
  • Make sure the lighting in the living and horse area run from a separate battery to the main vehicle battery.
  • Check there is no damage to the tyres.
  • In the cab check the gauges, lights, indicators, wipers, horn and warning lights.

Road test

  • A road test is strongly advised so that you can get a feel for the lorry and the driving position. You will also notice any major faults when it is being driven.

Professional pre-purchase inspection

  • If possible try to arrange a professional pre-purchase inspection. Jon recalls a lady telling the examiner that all she could find wrong with her new horsebox was some fraying rubber around the driver’s door. The inspection showed, amongst other things, that the body was attached to the chassis with just two bolts.


  • Always consider the legal standpoint when making your purchase.
  • The weight of your lorry and whether you use it privately or as a commercial operation, has a massive impact on how you can transport your horses.
  • The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) is now targeting overweight vehicles.
  • Unless you want an HGV, check that the weight of your lorry won’t be over 7.5 tonnes when fully loaded with horses, tack, feed etc.
  • To find out more about the legal implications of transport buying visit or download the user-friendly Guide for Horsebox and Trailer Owners (
  • There is also a VOSA hotline offering free advice, tel: 0300 123 9000.

With so many areas to consider, it’s worth taking your time over buying a horsebox.

And make sure you take someone knowledgeable with you to give your prospective purchase the once-over.

“This might cost you at the time, but in the long run it could save you thousands,” says Whittaker’s Mark Nicholson.

For more information from The Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners visit

Don’t miss the transport special in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (22 October), where we look at all the latest gadgets on the market to make transporting horses less stressful