Horse sense

PUBLISHED: 17:06 01 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:23 20 February 2013

Horse sense

Horse sense

Many equestrians are driving illegally - and dangerously - because of complacency and lack of knowledge, a survey reveals.

Horse sense



Many equestrians are driving illegally - and dangerously - because of complacency and lack of knowledge, a survey reveals.



On any weekend in Warwickshire, youll see convoys of horseboxes driving to and from the dozens of equestrian events across the region. But many of those driving these vehicles are woefully ignorant of the basic needs for safety, a survey reveals.



Warwickshire-based NFU Mutual is working with the British Horse Society and PRP Equine Rescue to help raise awareness on safety best practice for the loading and transportation of horses, following the results of recent survey. The survey of more than 2,000 horse owners was aimed at assessing the level of awareness of the rules and regulations surrounding the use of horseboxes and trailers.



Worryingly, 62 per cent of respondents admitted that they do not take the loading and transportation of their horses as seriously as they should. When asked why, 66 per cent cited a lack of knowledge and a confidence that they would never have a problem, as the main reasons for complacency. More than half reported that they or someone they knew had experienced a breakdown.



When asked to give details about the circumstances of their breakdown, 46 per cent said it was caused by a tyre-related problem, with fuel and engine-related problems cited as the second most common reasons. Nicki Whittaker, spokeswoman for NFU Mutual pointed out the dangers associated with overloading horse boxes and trailers: An overloaded horsebox is less stable, more difficult to steer and will take longer to stop. Overloading can also cause the tyres to overheat and wear rapidly which increases the chances of a tyre blowing out.



In addition to the survey, a voluntary weighing exercise was conducted at a recent equestrian event, where 100 vehicles (ranging from 4x4s with trailers, through to 18 tonne purpose-built equine transporters) were weighed as they entered the showground. More than 50 per cent of all vehicles weighed were found to be overweight and, had they been subject to an official roadside check, 64 per cent of these cases would have resulted in a fixed penalty notice of between 60 and 200.



The most severe case of overloading would have resulted in a summons to court and all vehicles would have been prevented from further movement until the overload had been removed. Sheila Hardy, Senior Executive in the Safety Department at The British Horse Society said : The constant changes to legislation for those driving equestrian vehicles makes life difficult but the issues that surround loading, tyre safety and breakdown cover are more easily addressed.



Check list



Pressure check ALL tyres when they are cold and before every journey.



Avoid overloading your horsebox or trailer. Overloaded its less stable, takes longer to stop and is more difficult to steer. Overloading can cause overheated tyres, rapid wear and increases chances of a blow out.



Condition check your tyres regularly especially if they have not been used for some time. Look for cracking, crazing, bulging. Without regular use they age more quickly.



Tread depth check this regularly. Up to 3.5 tonnes the minimum legal depth is 1.6mm. For horseboxes above this weight is it 1 mm.


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