HAVING recently bought a second-hand horsebox I learned the hard way that doing a refurbishment can be expensive and time consuming and ultimately benefits from some professional guidance. Whilst a second-hand horsebox is more likely to suit many people’s budget, it may inevitably cost more to maintain. Before you opt for a second-hand horsebox, make sure that it is in good condition and from a trusted seller.

If you can afford it, it may be worth opting for a new horsebox. There are plenty of firms across Ireland selling new and second-hand horseboxes and like most things, it will pay to shop around. There appear to be fewer options to have your existing box refurbished by a professional, but there are some firms and individuals out there who can do it for you.

If you already own a horsebox and want to avoid the need for refurbishment, regular maintenance could save you money in the long run. There are a few things that can keep your box in good condition, both for your horse’s safety and for safe use on the road.

Get appropriate insurance cover

Cover yourself for all eventualities by getting your horsebox insured. There are a number of companies who specialise in equine insurance, so cover yourself for accidents on the road, theft, damage or personal injury. With a bit of shopping around you’ll find the best and most affordable policy for your requirements. Installing security cameras or alarms will not only help reduce theft or accidents but it could also help you save money on your premium, as many companies will offer discounts for those who have additional security equipment installed.

Have your horsebox serviced

An annual service of your horsebox is one of the best ways to keep it in tiptop condition and suitable for safe use on the road. Have the engine, tyres, brakes and lights checked thoroughly to ensure it is safe. It is also a good idea to have items such as gas cookers or heaters that may be installed in your box, checked regularly.

Wash your horsebox

Washing your horsebox is a simple but effective way to maintain your box. It will need washed regularly, preferably after each use. Open windows after use to ventilate it and help dry it out and sweep the interior clean of debris. If you clean your box using chemicals it is important to thoroughly hose it down with water afterwards to make sure the chemicals are properly removed. Keep clean bedding in the box and ensure any rubber matting is kept clean and dry where possible. Keep the outside of your box clear of corrosive dirt and dust by hosing it down after use.

Check the ramp and floor

Your horse’s safety is your responsibility and you should always check the ramp to ensure that it is solid and in safe condition. Clean the ramp regularly and consider using a protective coating on it.

In the case of lorries, they are required by law to pass an annual test, but be aware that this doesn’t guarantee its floor is safe for carrying horses. The underneath of the lorry will be checked for damage and corrosion, but where the horses stand will not be. It is vital to check the floors in lorries and horseboxes. Wooden floors in particular deteriorate quickly, so regular checks are essential.

The main problem with horsebox flooring is that it tends to have insufficient drainage. There is a lot of liquid for it to contend with - such as urine, rain, water and damp - all of which causes the floor to rot. The floors also have to withstand several tonnes and so check your vehicle floor before loading your horse, especially if you own an older box. Floors can be replaced easily and save the risk of horrific accidents, the kinds of which we have all heard tell.

Your own safety, that of others on the road and that of your horses, may depend on the sound maintenance of your horsebox and if you do it all right and look after it you will get years of safe and happy travelling with your horses and save yourself considerable money at the same time.