The owner of a filly who almost kicked her way out of a 3.5-tonne horsebox on a dual carriageway said the vehicle was “not fit for purpose”.
Zoe Brailsford was on the A14, en route to a show, on 2 June in her rear-facing panel van conversion when her two-year-old Arab Jazz “just exploded”.
Zoe told H&H the filly had been calm throughout the journey from Kent, and had appeared fine when she had been checked half an hour beforehand, so she does not know what caused the incident.
“She was throwing herself about; rearing, kicking, double-barrelling the bulkhead, just behind my seat,” she said.
“We went up on two wheels at one point; I had a flashback to watching The Italian Job and asking my husband how they got the cars back down when that happened. He said they flicked the wheel so I thought: ‘It’s not a Mini but I’ll try it anyway, and thank God, it went back down.”
There was no hard shoulder on that stretch of the road so Zoe, who was with friends, pulled into the next services.
They found the box “falling apart”.
* Warning: video includes bad language… *
“She’d kicked through the lining of the walls; I’d been told it was a different material but it was just bog-standard thin plywood,” Zoe said.
“The lining was totally dismantled so she was putting her feet into the metalwork of the van, and they’re not designed for those forces. She nearly kicked her way out of the side.
“I wouldn’t have put my Shetland in it if I’d known how it was built, and if it had been my 16.2hh gelding, I doubt I’d be here; the bulkhead was up against the back of my seat.”
Jazz was collected by a recovery service and taken to a veterinary clinic, where she was found to have colic and a displaced colon, believe to have been caused by the stress of the incident.
She had also broken the glass window into the cab, and come close to going through the bulkhead between the horse area and the cab.
She is now home and back to normal, while the horsebox is being scrapped.
“I paid £8,000 for the box, a couple of months ago; it was a 2014 conversion,” Zoe said.
“I got a friend who’s a mechanic and a horsebox builder to check it over and he checked everything we could but when he pulled up a corner of the rubber matting on the floor, he found metal underneath. We thought that meant it had a metal floor but when I took the mats out after the accident, I found it was just metal in that corner; the rest was plywood that didn’t look that different to the stuff on the walls.”
'There we were, standing on the A1, with articulated lorries doing emergency stops, and the wagon just went up'
The owner wants annual checks to be mandatory, as well as checks on buying new-build boxes on older chassis
Zoe described the box as “not fit for purpose”.
“I bought the box privately but I rang the manufacturer to check how it was built, to make sure it was safe, and he told me a lot that wasn’t true,” she said.
“I can’t believe there are no regulations on building these boxes as it’s not just horses in danger.
“If we hadn’t got into the services, Jazz could have come out on to the road, and caused God knows what damage. It’s not worth thinking about what would happen if a horse came out of the side of a box on the road.”
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