Taking your horse to and from places is a part of many owners’ lives. However, it is imperative that you follow proper safety procedures in order for safe travel for both you and your horse. There are a lot of different factors come in to play when it comes to horse floats, here at Petplan we’re going to take a look at some of our top safety tips…
A very common mistake made by horse owners is not taking in to account the combined weight of their horse and gear for the appropriate float. If you don’t already have a float, double check the load capacity and size before purchasing as if it not too small or can’t carry the capacity, it can lead to massive implications and you’re setting yourself up for an accident in the future.
Before you even start to load your horse on the float, familiarise yourself with it and be aware of possible problems that could arise.
- Tyres: they should be legal with sufficient tread on them. Light truck tyres are recommended as they can bear the weight of the float and additional horses, unlike car tyres.
- Lights: as with every towed vehicle, it is important to check that all corresponding lights work including brakes, indicators, tail lights, number plate light, side markers and reflectors.
- Brake: not only should all brakes operate on each wheel, the float should also be fitted with a breakaway brake system if over 2000kgs. This will activate if the float detaches itself from the towing vehicle.
- Float Windows: if the float windows do not have screens on them, they should be closed at all times on the road as debris can fly up and injure the horse. Windows with screens can be left open. They can also be problem spots when horses try to fit through the windows, no matter the size – therefore leave windows closed if horses are not securely tied within the float.
- Dividers & leg room: a double float will come with a divider that will separate your 2 horses – be sure that this divider does not go all the way to the floor of the float. Horses love to spread their legs during travel and if the divider does not allow this, they may become extremely difficult travellers and not want to board the float in the future.
- Supervision: never leave your horse unattended in the float and if possible, bring a friend when transporting as there will always be someone to supervise and potentially avoid serious situations occurring.
- Driving: approach the drive with a focus on caution and keeping the journey as smooth as possible, this will reinforce the concept that travelling in the float is nothing to be scared of.
Other key factors that you should consider with your float are quick release chest bars; sturdy breaching gates instead of chains; keep bay partitions free swinging; remove all dangerous fixings, and anti-slip low angled ramp.
Once you have yourself familiarised with your float, you can begin to prepare your horse for the journey with a few simple steps, tips and checks.
- General check-up: Make sure your horse is in good health and able to travel (unless in an emergency).
- Tail bandages: these can be a great investment if your horse tends to push up against the tailgates in your float resulting in sores and losing their tail hair. Try to wrap the bandage around the tail not too tight as this in itself can lead to serious consequences.
Using your horse float can seem like a daunting task, however with these few simple tips above you should be well on your way to safely using your horse float. As stated above, these are only a few safety tips, for more information ask your local equine veterinary or a float retailer.