These days I know too much about horseboxes and trailers. I've seen and read about the accidents and incidents that can occur in them. I've learned the hard way about some of the problems with the fixtures and fittings, and the general lay out of boxes and the way that some horses can protest about being loaded and travelled in them. I've also done a review of the historical research, analysed a recent survey, and talked to experts in the emergency services, vehicle design and driver training. When I impart that knowledge to people with horses you can see them singing la-la-la-la-la with their hands clamped to their ears, as if even talking about it will tempt fate or give their horse ideas. I'm all for positive thinking and for not transmitting fear to the horse, but turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the potential risks when loading and travelling a horse is not a method of preventing things happening. "If only I'd known," is a familiar refrain after the event but too late to save a horse or it's handler from injury.
On a small scale it's about knowing how your transport vehicle works, how all the fastenings fasten and how they can be made to come apart in an emergency. It's also about regular maintenance - have you checked your tyres, your brakes, had the vehicle serviced regularly, and do you do a walkaround check before you load your horse. Have you trained your horse properly and had regular practice sessions with him?
On a wider scale it's about knowing the pitfalls of various vehicles. Are you aware that there have been a number of very serious incidents where horses have gone over the breast partition in rear facing 3.5 tonne trucks, ending up trapped and having to be rescued by the Fire and Rescue Service? Did you know that horses are just as likely to jump over the breast bar in a front facing trailer or clamber onto the tack lockers in a herringbone truck and injure themselves that way instead?
In time consumers must vote with their hooves and stop buying vehicle that look really pretty, but are unsafe and uncomfortable for their horses. Fortunately there are manufacturers and designers already making significant changes to the configuration, fixtures and fittings of the boxes that they supply.
If you want to know more about horse transport then you can go to Dropbox for a copy of our report: BARTA and IH Interim Review of Horse Transport Or you can email me at email@example.com and I will send you a copy.
"What can I say except CHAMPION! A HUMUNGOUS amount of work went into this! You and Jim deserve medals and an honorary degree! I can't wait to soak, soak, soak in this. WONDERFUL!" Dr Sharon Cregier. "Comprehensive and comprehensible"
"Hey Sarah, fantastic early feedback from people, you should be really chuffed with what you have produced!! Again, feel very proud, good job!" Jim Green
"Brilliant - a lot of hard work from you and Jim!" Alison Schwabe
"I'm just reading through it, and it's fascinating so far." Jo Thomas
"Thanks so much for sending me this report, really interesting reading, and has made me more determined to have some adaptations made to my box (wither tie points and quick release on the breast bar). Really interested in the points made about noise levels at which horse may be stressed. Good luck with informing and influencing change for the benefit of the horses>" Norma T