With the new competition season looming, servicing and prepping your horse’s transport is an important job. Keeping equine transport in good working order is crucial for reliability and safety. But is there anything you can do to be a little bit more self-sufficient when you are out and about? A good emergency kit can make the difference between survival and disaster. A recent post on Facebook elicited loads of useful response from horse owners who were all able to share the benefit of their experience from tricky situations involving mechanical breakdowns to rogue weather conditions and freak disasters. It’s just one of those situations where until it happens to you, it just might not strike you how useful certain items can be. Here is a list of some of the best:-
- Bungees – these are nylon covered strong elasticated strips usually with hooks at either end available in different lengths, they are incredibly strong but flexible. They are beyond useful in an equestrian situation. They can tie things together that have broken and hook and secure doors and partitions in the wind
- Gorilla tape – this has numerous uses from sealing up broken skirt lockers on lorries to holding together a riding boot where the zip has failed (black obviously)
- A decent torch or flash lamp – essential if you break down in the dark, try and find one with a stand fitting as part of the handle so that you can easily put it down and angle the beam to where you need it
- Red warning triangle – a very important safety feature if your lorry or trailer breaks down
- A flashing yellow lamp – these come with adhesive fittings so you can stick them onto a lorry or trailer that may have a power problem and is therefore unlit
- Miners lamps – you can never have too much lighting, miners lamps are great if you are short of someone to hold a torch or you need targeted light with both hands free
- Hi-Viz – keep a couple of warm fluorescent jackets or gilets in your towing vehicle or lorry, this will keep you warm and visible at the roadside
- Hammer – great for stuck trailer pins or anything that needs a bit of focused brute force, also a couple of screwdrivers and a sharp knife with a closed blade
- Extra bailer twine – string is always useful for jobs that bungees can ‘t manage, lengths of strong cord and rope are also helpful
Some people rely on a friend helping them out if they break down with a horse on board a trailer or lorry. This might be fine if you only travel locally but if you head further afield, it is easy to get stuck. Recovery companies cannot collect or tow in a horsebox or trailer with the horse still on it. Breakdown cover will arrange collection for the horse and recovery for the vehicles separately whatever the transport arrangement and wherever you are. The costs for this service are in the region of £200-£300 per annum and well worth it when you consider not only the trauma of being stuck with a horse on board but also the cost of finding your own recovery horsebox service which can cost around £1,000 on the day. Many horsebox insurers will sell this as an add on at the point of renewal of cover.
First Aid kit
Keep a small human and equine first aid kit on your lorry or towing vehicle. Check it regularly for supplies and make sure nothing has gone out of date. Large events like horse trials and county shows will have medical and veterinary cover but if you break down roadside or are at a smaller show, it always pays to be self-sufficient. Some horseboxes will also carry a fire extinguisher.
Top Tips for safe travel
- Always leave enough time for your journey
- Check weather forecasts before you go and along the whole length of your route if you are going a long way
- Plan your journey taking account of any roadworks
- Try and always have someone with you as a second pair of hands and preferably someone who can act as a second driver if need be
- Always check your emergency kits at the start of the season and several times throughout the year replacing any items that are used up or damaged or out of date
- Make sure you take adequate hay, food and water for your horse for a trip longer than the one you are planning just in case you get stuck
- Keep a copy of your insurance details and breakdown cover in the cab with phone numbers for breakdown recovery
- Being prepared reduces stress levels and means you will have fewer problems when out and about and are better equipped to deal with them when they do occur.