Warning after spike in horsebox breakdowns *H&H Plus*

  • As riders are keen to get back out with their horses, a horse transport recovery provider has reported a large increase in breakdowns and is calling for owners to make sure they do essential checks before heading out with horses on board. H&H finds out more...

    The current situation is a “perfect storm” for horsebox owners, according to one recovery provider, as huge numbers of lorries have been breaking down.

    As competition has restarted after the coronavirus lockdown, PRP Rescue Services managing director Jon Phillips told H&H he has seen demand for recovery soar.

    “It’s just gone crazy,” he said. “It’s been like we normally see in spring, but with a vengeance; everyone’s been breaking down.”

    Mr Phillips said that after the enforced shutdown of activity, people have been keen to get back out, and that some may have done so without carrying out the necessary safety checks on their vehicles.

    “They’ve just jumped in the lorry and gone out,” he said. “There have been silly things, like slightly flat tyres, or wiring that’s not wired up any more; all completely unnecessary things a mechanic would have picked up in a look over the vehicle.”

    Mr Phillips, who also leads the Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners said he understands that the vehicles’ idleness was unexpected, and then sport was restarted fairly quickly. But he urged owners to check vehicles thoroughly, or get them checked by a professional.

    “Remember everything you do before you go out in the spring and please, please, do it again,” he said. “I’m sure readers have got back copies of H&H, or they can go on the website, or our website, for lists of what you need to check, or get your mechanic to.

    “Also, remember to check floors and ramps; they’re the call-outs we hate the most.”

    Mr Phillips added that some breakdowns may be caused by issues that would have been picked up in an MOT, had these not been extended while garages are closed.

    “It’s a perfect storm for the horsebox owner,” he said.

    MOTs will be compulsory again as of 1 August, but drivers are also reminded that with or without a test certificate, it is their responsibility to ensure the vehicles they drive are safe and comply with legal standards.

    A DVSA spokesman told H&H: “The annual test is a once-a-year check that a vehicle is safe to drive. Drivers and operators still have a responsibility to ensure the vehicle remains safe between tests.”

    British Horse Society (BHS) director of safety Alan Hiscox told H&H the BHS advises pre-travel checks to include tyre pressure and condition, on lorries, trailers and towing vehicles, lights and fastenings.

    “We would also advise that you take out quality breakdown cover specifically for equine recovery, otherwise a rescue, particularly from a major road, has the potential to be very expensive,” he said.

    In the event of a motorway breakdown, horses must stay in the vehicle, while drivers and passengers are advised to wait on the embankment.

    “Your safety, as well as that of your horse and other road users, is paramount, so wait for experts and do not attempt any repairs yourself,” Mr Hiscox said. “If your vehicle cannot be safely repaired at the roadside, a decision will be made by the Highways Authority or police as to the best course of action. This could be to close the motorway to unbox and reload your horse on to a rescue vehicle, or they may decide to tow your vehicle.”

    The BHS has published a safety card titled “Are you sure it’s safe for me to travel?” For a copy, email safety@bhs.org.uk

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