Young riders are being encouraged to learn about safely transporting their horses as part of NFU Mutual’s Horsebox Safety Week (20 to 26 August).

The initiative is being held to coincide with the Berkeley Group Pony Club Championships and Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials.

NFU Mutual is joining forces with the Pony Club and National Pony Society Scotland to raise awareness and “spread the safety message to the next generation of riders”.

Owners are unwittingly putting their horses’ lives at risk by not carrying out basic checks before making journeys and we want to use the week to reduce injuries and fatal accidents,”said NFU Mutual’s equine specialist Justine Simms-Gould.

“From an early age young riders get involved with the wellbeing of their ponies, yet when it comes to travelling it [becomes] a matter often dealt with by adults.

“We want to raise awareness with young riders so they have conversations with their parents about how they can care for their horses at all times.”

In 2017, flat tyres or damaged wheels accounted for 22% of all NFU Mutual’s horsebox breakdown calls.

While horseboxes do have to pass an annual MOT, the process does not include checks on the vehicle for its suitability or safety to carry horses.

H&H is backing calls for changes within the industry for better regulation of horse box construction.

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Pony Club vice-chairman Christopher Bromfield said he hopes members are inspired to take their loading achievement badge, which covers travelling as well as roadworthiness requirements for horseboxes and trailers.

“We are extremely proud to once again join forces with NFU Mutual during Horsebox Safety Week to help raise awareness and highlight that horsebox safety isn’t just about safe driving and checking your tyres, but to make sure you maintain your horsebox and learn the best practices to load and unload your horse,” he added.

Horsebox Safety Week is highlighting seven key issues: pre-journey safety checks, old and worn tyres, rotten floors and ramps, overweight vehicles, accidents, breakdowns and safe loading.

Jane McNaught, National Pony Society Scotland member, advised owners check their tyres, floor, ramps and general condition frequently, especially in the run-up to an event.

“We understand how much hard work goes into the [Pony Club] championships and [Blair Castle] horse trials and we want riders to apply the same dedication and commitment when it comes to safety,” added Jane.

People can follow the campaign using the #HBSW hashtag on social media and through a series of safety videos at youtube.com/nfumutualvideo.

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