Horses travelling in two-stall horseboxes could be saved from potentially fatal accidents by a new safety device, claims its manufacturer — and horse rescue experts agree.
Two-stall horsebox owners are being urged to fit a new safety feature to cut the number of accidents in which horses climb over the breast bar into the rear of the box.
H&H highlighted riders’ concerns about the safety of these small boxes last month (news, 29 October).
Anton Phillips of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service says his team has attended five or six incidents of this kind this year.
“These boxes are very popular because they can be driven on a normal car licence but we have seen some nasty accidents,” he said.
In some cases spooked horses have made a dash for the jockey door by climbing over the solid breast bar and have become stuck.
But in April 2008 Galloper Horseboxes introduced the Horsesafe Screen, a full-height partition to be fitted into 3.5 tonne two-horse boxes.
Ian Hanson of Galloper said: “We built them first for transport company Horses in Motion. In the first few months the owner has had three horses climb up on it and it’s stopped them jumping over.”
Some horseboxes are built with a full-height partition between the horses and the living, but not all. It costs less than £1,000 to buy and fit.
Mr Phillips agreed it could save a horse’s life.
But Claire Murphy, of Theault Horseboxes, whose vehicles sport a wide rear door and collapsible breast bar, said she believes some buyers put price above safety.
“The lack of legislation governing these boxes is a concern. It is common to see rear-facing horseboxes advertised as brand-new at less than £20,000 — which allows just £4,000 for the entire body build after the cost of a new chassis,” she said.
Galloper, tel: 01747 873901.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (19 November, ’09)