Clearly, if you can have someone knowledgable to accompany you when you go and look at one, perfect. However, if you don't have that luxury there are some really key things that you should be aware of. Easy2Insure have kindly provided me with this exclusive experts guide to help you make a good choice when you come to buy a horsebox or trailer:
When you consider that even the cheapest trailer will set you back around a thousand pounds (and that’s at the very bottom end of estimates), it pays to make sure that your investment is a good one. So if you are planning to spend your hard-earned money on transport for your horse, what should you be looking at to make sure you’re getting a good deal?
In exactly the same way as you would when buying a second-hand car, you need to check the prospective purchase over very
carefully to make sure you don’t end up with something that’s practically worthless or, even worse, potentially dangerous to you, your horse and other road users. So here is a quick run-down of the things you need to check before you buy:
#1 – Chassis
As this supports the weight of the box and your horse, it’s crucial that the chassis is sound. Look for obvious signs of rust or
damage, but remember there’s a big difference between superficial ‘surface’ rust and corrosion that could compromise the structure of the vehicle. If you have any doubts, walk away!
#2 - Brakes
Check that the pipes and cabling are in good condition, and that there’s no obvious damage. Check also for wear on the brake
shoe. Shoes should be replaced when the friction material is down to 1.5mm, and can be quite a costly replacement.
Trailers are also legally required to have what is known as a breakaway cable fitted. This applies the brakes if the box becomes
unhitched from the towing vehicle. The breakaway cable has to be clipped to a specially designed tow-bar ring or other solid part of the vehicle.
#3 - Floor
There’s nothing more frightening - or potentially more dangerous - than have your horse go through the floor, especially when you are on the move. Wooden floors are susceptible to rot particularly when maintenance is lax, so check, check and double check the floor’s condition and walk away from a single layer wooden floor unless you are prepared to have it replaced yourself. A properly installed aluminium plank floor is a much better option than wood, and will last longer but you must still check it for wear and tear.
#4 - Partitions
Don’t forget about the internal condition of the box. Ensure that partitions, brackets and hinges are all in good condition.
Faulty partitions can be another cause of travel-related injuries.
#5 - Electrics
Check that the electrics and lights, internal and external, are in full working order, and that there are no broken cables.
Just like any other road-going vehicle, a trailer has to have working lights (rear lights, front lights, brake lights, indicators
and reversing lights, as well as internal lights) plus an illuminated rear number plate that is exactly the same as the one on the towing vehicle.
#6 – Tyres
These can be easily replaced, but you should ensure that both the tyres and the wheels are in good condition, with no
buckling on the rims. Because they don’t get used very often, horse box and trailer tyres often start to perish long before the tread wears down. Look out for sidewall cracks that could indicate a tyre that’s past its best, and ensure that the tyres have the correct weight rating.
#7 - Ramp
Check that the hinges are in good condition and that the catches lock firmly into place once the ramp is up. Check the condition of the springs or hydraulics, which are there to prevent the ramp crashing down (and help you get it up again!). Thoroughly
inspect the ramp itself. Again, you don’t want a horse’s hoof going through a rotten ramp.
#8 - Hitching point
Not only does the hitching point have to be securely fastened to the main chassis of the vehicle and have breakaway
electrical points, but it also has to be in good condition too. The hitching points on modern trailers have wear indicators that can alert you to a tow ball that is worn. This can be very dangerous, as a worn tow ball means that there is a much greater danger of the trailer breaking away from the towing vehicle whilst on the move.
#9 - Cosmetics
Don’t be fooled by a freshly painted horsebox – always check beyond the obvious to make sure that the box you’re buying hasn’t
just been ‘prettied’ up to get a quick sale! Your key concern is safety when buying a box, so check it thoroughly until you’re satisfied that it meets your standards. And take someone knowledgeable with you to advise. Just like when you’re buying a horse, it always helps to have a second pair of eyes with you.
#10 - Insurance
One last word of advice – once you have bought your horsebox, get it insured. Good quality horsebox insurance won’t cost the
earth, and not only will it protect your investment, but it could also cover your tack in transit, as well as providing you with additional features such as emergency stabling if your trailer is lost or stolen, and breakdown cover. For horseboxes it’s a legal requirement. And while it’s not obligatory to insure trailers, it can save you a whole heap of trouble (and expense!) if something