As the temperature plummets we still need to keep horses, and our vehicles, on the move. What should we consider when travelling with horses in freezing conditions?
1) Plan your journey
When travelling in inclement weather, especially with horses on board, it is essential to plan your journey. Stick to main routes, that are likely to have been treated for ice. Avoid routes liable to flooding or drifting snow.
Tell someone where and when you are travelling and share your route plan with them. Use your common sense and avoid travel, if possible, during periods of extreme weather.
2) Check your vehicle
Checking your vehicle before travel should be a key step to any journey, however this becomes even more important during times of freezing weather.
Tyres are incredibly important to keep a firm grip on roads. Check they are correctly inflated, and that the tread is at least 1.6mm. A quick check of wheel nuts can also add peace of mind.
Be aware that tyres on horseboxes must not be more than 10-years old. Older tyres can fail MOT inspections and therefore invalidate insurance.
Check that all electrics are working correctly before travel, checking lights and indicators.
Also ensure you check oil and water levels, making sure that windscreen washers are also working correctly.
3) Pack essential items
Pack essential items for both horses and people.
This should include enough food and water should you become stranded, as well as first aid kits for both, as well as warm clothes and rugs.
Hi visibility clothing should be stored in horseboxes, or trailers, for emergency situations to ensure that you can remain visible at the side of the road.
Practical items such as a torch, warning triangle and fire extinguisher should also be included.
Phone chargers or external battery packs to enable you to stay in communication should you become stranded away from home.
4) Keep horses comfortable
Even during the colder months horses should be kept well ventilated when travelling. Ensure that travelling windows remain open to allow for adequate air flow.
Be considerate when rugging for travelling. Some horses may get warmer when travelling, especially when in a lorry with other horses. Be cautious not to over rug, leading to horses over heating.
Many horses do not drink as well during the winter, and therefore will need to be encouraged to drink whilst travelling. Look to companies such as Saracen Horse Feeds who offer travel sized pouches of feed to add to water to encourage horses to drink.
5) Safe loading and unloading
Check that the ground around your loading ramp is free of ice. If not add salt or grit to the surrounding areas to prevent the horses from slipping when loading.
If travelling in the dark ensure that loading lights are used, and where possible a red travelling light.
6) Carry insurance documents
No matter what time of year it is, you should always carry your insurance and breakdown documents with you. Keep these safely stored in a glove box to ensure they are within easy reach should an incident occur.
Keep emergency phone numbers stored in your phone, with a not of policy numbers saved somewhere accessible.
Always check your insurance is valid prior to travel.
To discuss your horsebox, trailer and breakdown insurance contact our friendly and knowledgable team today on 01992 718666.