A former caravan and motorhome technician who now works on horseboxes said he has found a “minefield of disasters” with potentially fatal consequences.
Tristan Olivier has set up Rockstar Horsebox Services since he was approached by clients of his wife Jennifer, an equine physiotherapist.
He said what he has found in some of the vehicles he has worked on “shocked the life out of me”.
“My main concern is to raise awareness that there are significantly large numbers of horseboxes and trailers out there that are not safe to use,” he said.
“But additionally, I want to highlight that there are cowboys who are making, selling and repairing them in order to earn easy money, and skimping on important safety measures.”
Mr Olivier, of Northants, has found issues with wiring, gas and electrics in living areas, as well as “botched” roofing and bodywork.
“I spoke to a man the other day who had nearly set his lorry on fire,” he said.
“The light fittings said 12-volt bulbs, so that’s what he put in but the wiring was 24 volts. He turned the lights on and the bulbs got so hot, they set fire to the light fittings.
“He was there and could turn them off but if they’d been left on and he’d gone out, the whole thing could have gone up.”
Mr Olivier said he has seen a variety of issues concerning gas supplies, with ventilation often “not taken into consideration”.
“In a caravan or motorhome, there should be a hole under the hob so if it does leak, the gas can escape rather than collect,” he said.
“There are good horsebox manufacturers, of course, but there are so many home-made conversions these days. It’s so easy to buy an ex-delivery lorry, put some partitions, rubber matting and fibreglass on it and call it a horsebox, then buy some appliances and sell it for £30,000.”
Mr Olivier would like to see more horseboxes subject to annual safety inspections, of issues not covered in the plating.
“Guidance or caravans and motorhomes is annual servicing,” he said.
“It’s an inspection of general condition and gas and electricity safety. There’s always a chance a connection may have come loose.
“And it’s not just the living. How many people leave the trailer out all winter, then just put the horse in next spring and expect it to be ok?
“Things seize up if they’re not used, rubber can perish – a friend’s trailer tyre burst the other day because it had perished.”
Mr Olivier has also seen a vehicle whose seller claimed it had an aluminium floor, but which had a sheet of metal plate over rotting plywood.
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“People think the whole lorry is inspected when it’s plated but it’s just the roadworthiness,” he said.
“They wouldn’t check the floor, for example.
“I don’t think the answer is another MoT-type test, with more expense, I just want to raise awareness, of what can happen if things go wrong.
“I want people to be more aware of maintenance. You put your horses and yourself in your vehicle, it needs to be safe.”