Have horse will travel

Have Horse Will Travel

By Wendy Talbot on 15 June 2022

Have horse will travel

Transporting horses safely needs careful planning. Not only do you need a suitable trailer or horsebox but you also need the appropriate driving qualification, the right equipment, plenty of time and patience and, ideally, a spare pair of hands.

Trailer or lorry?

Whether you opt for a trailer or a horsebox it’s imperative to ensure that the vehicle is safe, secure, properly maintained and regularly serviced.


If you plan to tow a trailer you must first check the designated towing vehicle’s towing capacity. Ideally the fully laden weight of the trailer should be no heavier than 85% of the tow car advises the RAC.

You also need to check that you are qualified to tow: If you passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997 you will need to pass an additional test – you can find out more via the DVLA.

Driving a lorry

If you have a category B driving licence and took your driving test before 1 January 1997 you can drive a vehicle of 3.5 tonnes and up to 7.5 tonnes maximum authorised mass (MAM). For those who took their test on or after 1 January 1997 an additional passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) test is needed. To drive a lorry of more than 7.5 tonnes an LVG (HGV) licence is needed.

Understanding MAM, payload and curb weight

The maximum authorised mass of a horsebox or trailer includes the weight of the vehicle and everything inside: horses, people, water, fuel and so on.

Payload capacity is the maximum weight that can be safely loaded on or into a vehicle.

Curb weight is the weight of the vehicle without any cargo or passengers.

Be a good driver

A good driver makes for a good journey for the horse and will help to encourage confidence and a willingness to travel in the future. Make sure you take corners gently and stop and accelerate slowly to give your horse a smooth ride. Leave plenty of time for your journey and ideally persuade a friend to accompany you in case of emergency.

Travel training

Aside from being able to take your horse out and about to shows and events, making sure he is happy to load and travel could be a lifesaver if you ever need to get to a veterinary surgery for emergency treatment.

Every experience in the lorry or trailer should be a positive one and it always pays to be patient, calm and have plenty of time. Loading can be a daunting first-time experience for your horse so take it slowly and make each step of the process inviting and rewarding, perhaps feeding your horse in the trailer or lorry and then leading them quietly out, before eventually progressing to short journeys. Finding an experienced trainer to help you in the first instance can reap dividends in helping you and your horse feel confident about travelling in the future.

Backwards, forwards or sideways?

Some horses prefer to travel facing backwards while others may prefer to face the direction of travel or stand on the diagonal. Trailers and partitions come in various styles and it’s useful to try before you buy to make sure you choose a vehicle suited to your horse’s size and preferences. Trailers usually come with a removable partition – sometimes giving a single horse space of the whole trailer in which they can spread their legs and find their balance will help them travel more comfortably.

Dressing for the occasion

Protective travel gear is essential to help prevent injuries while your horse is in transit. Leg protectors in the form of travel boots or bandages, plus a tail guard and a poll guard are commonly used but remember to acclimatise your horse to wearing them in the stable and around the yard before surprising them with unfamiliar gear on the day of travel. Depending on the time of year a sweat rug may be needed but on a warm day it’s best not to risk over-heating your horse which may cause discomfort and distress.

In case of emergency

Always pack a first aid kit, plenty of water and an extra haynet in case of journey delays or a breakdown. A spare lead rope and headcollar are also a good idea. Remember to have emergency veterinary contact numbers to hand should a problem arise and try to avoid travelling alone – asking a family member or a friend to accompany you will make the journey easier, safer and less stressful.





Wendy graduated from Bristol University in 1999. She then went on to complete a residency at Liverpool University and holds a European Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. After working in practice for 13 years, she joined Zoetis in 2012 as the National Equine Veterinary Manager.

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