Horseboxes belonging to show jumper William Funnell and his wife, the eventer Pippa Funnell, were stopped by Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) inspectors as they pulled in to Hickstead on Wednesday, 24 June.
VOSA has been running an operation in the West Sussex area, focusing on horseboxes at Hickstead and at the South of England Show (11-13 June) in nearby Haywards Heath.
William, who went on to win the Hickstead Derby (28 June), fell foul of HGV regulations as the tachograph in one of the couple’s three Oakley lorries was not working and Pippa was told she needed an operator’s licence.
William said he was not aware that they needed operators’ licences and admitted the legislation was confusing.
“It seems to be quite a grey area, but I think Pippa was targeted because we have advertising for our Billy Stud on her lorry,” he told H&H.
“We were travelling our own horses and we don’t earn a living from transporting them [so I didn’t think we needed an operator’s licence] but 90 per cent of people at Hickstead are transporting horses that belong to owners.
“My lorry had a broken tachograph and they warned me that I must get it mended. I accept that.”
On 25 June, VOSA set up a mobile weighing machine close to Hickstead and inspectors were pulling over and weighing horseboxes.
The Funnells’ experience has highlighted the misinformation and misconceptions around horsebox regulations.
VOSA spokesman Zita Easton told H&H: “It would appear from our records that Mr Funnell’s heavy goods vehicle inspected on the day is used in connection with a trade or business and as such is likely to require an operator’s licence.”
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This article was first published in Horse & Hound (9 July, ’09)