Fed up with a 5am alarm clock and doing her horses in frozen conditions before commuting to work in the City, Allie MacLeod ditched her London life after 20 years in the big smoke. In March, she set about creating her brainchild, The Horsebox Spa, a mobile spa for horses and the first of its kind in the industry.
Horse owner Allie came up with the new business venture after two decades of looking after her horses from her parents’ yard in East Sussex, where there is no mains water or electricity.
“I would have to go up to the fields on my quad bike to fetch water for the yard from the troughs,” reflects Allie. “Last winter was one of the longest and coldest in decades. The thought of another without the little luxury of hot wash facilities triggered my initial idea. I knew I wasn’t alone in that the vast majority of yards don’t have spa facilities.”
Allie was quick to realise she had, indeed, found a gap in the market for a mobile equine spa.
“On social media, it was evident that other horse owners were experiencing the same issues as me, with countless posts asking where they could take their horses for a hot shower and solarium.
“While some yards hire out their spa facilities, that requires you taking your horse to them. There is the issue of transport, sourcing it and the cost if you don’t have your own. Plus the time spent travelling and waiting while your horse is bathed, dried, groomed and clipped,” added Allie, who is also qualified in BHS stage three. “During the winter months especially, when days are short, time is not a luxury I or many other people have.”
Last spring, Allie sold her London flat and purchased a cottage in East Sussex, while investing the rest of the equity into The Horsebox Spa.
She got in touch with Owens Horseboxes and started working with them on creating the perfect mobile spa for horses (pictured below).
“I bought a two-horse 3.5tonne lorry from Owens Horseboxes and then asked them to completely adapt it,” she explained. “It did take a while to create because it is so bespoke. My budget was around £40k, however, it is creeping closer to £70k at the moment. But I really believe in the concept and want the standard to be the highest possible — so it is worth investing in at this stage.”
Allie’s mobile equine spa comprises a plethora of services and functions for your horse, including a heated wash-down area under an awning, a power shower — hot, cold or ice-infused — plus an infrared, padded solarium, Equissage and Equilibrium pampering massage pads (pictured below). There is also a portable weighbridge, a rug warmer, a clipping and trimming service, while not forgetting the horse owners, there is even a relaxation lounge with refreshments!
“While the weather hasn’t turned too bad quite yet, I have received a really positive response on social media,” said Allie, who officially launched The Horsebox Spa this month.
“The biggest nightmare was finding appropriate insurance for the business. Many of the companies I approached couldn’t help because it was not something that they had ever covered before. I have to say thank you to KBIS, however, because they have been brilliant and really helped me.”
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Although Allie considers her new venture to be seasonal, mostly in the winter months, she has her vision set on options for the summer too.
“I was speaking to some eventing friends I have, who suggested I think about offering the services at horse trials, for example to warm-up the horses and help cool them down after the cross-country.”
With relaxing music and ambient lighting to boot, we wonder if Allie also does a human spa and could maybe swing by H&H HQ…?
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