- What to do if your horsebox breaks down
- Breakdown membership with Equine Rescue Services Ltd
- What happens when you call our emergency breakdown number
- Why horseboxes break down
- Top tips for travelling with horses
- Items to be carried in case of an emergency
What to do if your horsebox breaks down
- If possible, try to get your vehicle to a safe place. This would mean the hard shoulder on a motorway, as close to the left-hand verge as is possible. On smaller roads, a verge or gateway would suffice, away from any bends or blind summits.
- Switch on your hazard warning lights.
- If you are in a dangerous position in relation to yourself and other traffic, inform the police and Highways Agency via 999/112
- If it is safe to do so, place a hazard triangle or flashing lamp on the side of the road, 50-100m behind the vehicle. If you are parked on the road close to a bend, someone should warn oncoming traffic before the bend.
- In poor visibility, or darkness, leave the sidelights on.
- Anyone on the road is potentially in danger from other vehicles. Where possible, the police suggest drivers should stay outside the car on the nearest verge. On no account should doors on the same side as the road be used. Be aware of your own safety and wear bright or reflective clothing if you have any.
- If you are an ERS member, call the freephone emergency number on your membership card.
- If you are not an ERS member, and you are in an emergency situation, call us on 01300 348 997, and we will see what we can do to help.
- While you’re waiting to be rescued make sure the horses are comfortable and have access to hay and water. Extra supplies of hay and water should always be carried in case of a breakdown or delay in your journey. You should ensure there is adequate ventilation at all times and extra clothing for warmth in the winter. Do not get the horses out of the vehicle.
- If you are in a lorry, stay with your horse if possible. If you are in a trailer, then open the groom’s door, providing it’s away from the traffic and it is safe to do so.
Breakdown membership with Equine Rescue Services Ltd
Equine Rescue Services Ltd provides a highly professional, nationwide emergency service for horseboxes and horse trailers that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We're here to help you cope with the emergencies you hope will never happen but just might, one day.
One call to our freephone emergency number will get you straight through to a real person - one of our dedicated Incident Controllers, based in our control room at our headquarters in Dorset. Equine Rescue is run by people with an equestrian background, so you can rest assured that we understand the particular problems that you may face with your horse if you have an emergency such as a breakdown. Our emergency helpline operators and customer service advisers have had years of experience of dealing with situations such as the one you may find yourself in.
All our membership packages include callout and attendance of a mechanical agent for breakdown & tyre failure of your horsebox or horse trailer. If our agent cannot repair your vehicle, it will be recovered to the nearest suitable garage or your home, whichever is closer - or, if you have our long distance option, your horsebox can be recovered to any destination in the uk.
if roadside repair of your horsebox or horse trailer is not possible, all our membership packages entitle you to fresh horse transport to take your horses home, or to any other destination in the UK. Your horses will be transferred to another vehicle to continue their journey.
What happens when you call our emergency breakdown number
In the unfortunate event that you break down while driving your horsebox or towing a horse trailer, what exactly happens when you call the Equine Rescue Services emergency number?
Equine Rescue Services emergency control centre
Our emergency number is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Calls come direct to our very own Control Centre, based at our headquarters in Dorset. Your call will be answered by one of our dedicated Incident Controllers, who have a wealth of experience in equestrian matters and how to help you through your breakdown. Their priority is to ensure the safety of you and your horses.
First of all, the operator will ask for your membership number - so make sure you have your membership number with you whenever you travel. This will allow him to bring up your details on screen. Next he will ask about your location and the problem with your vehicle, and check that you and your horses are ok.
Brian - one of our friendly control centre operators
Our operator will then make all the necessary phone calls to get your situation sorted out as quickly as possible. One of our nationwide network of mechanical agents will be dispatched to attempt to repair your vehicle. Many faults, such as tyres, flat batteries and blocked fuel filters, can usually be repaired by the roadside, and over 70% of incidents are resolved in this way.
If your vehicle cannot be repaired by the roadside, it will be recovered to your home, or to the nearest suitable garage, whichever is closer. (If you have Traveller Long Distance or Traveller Plus membership, your vehicle can be recovered to any destination in the UK.)
Peter - another of our friendly control centre operators
If your vehicle needs to be recovered, replacement horse transport will be provided for your horses. This is not a straight bar tow of your existing vehicle with your horses onboard - horses will be transferred to another horsebox, sent by one of our horse transporters, and driven by someone who knows and cares about horses. Your horses can be taken to your home, to your original destination or wherever you wish.
Throughout the incident, our operator will keep you informed of what is happening and when you can expect our agents to arrive. Until your incident is resolved, he will keep in touch with you to check that you are ok.
If your horse is in need of veterinary assistance, our operator can contact a vet on your behalf and ask them to come out to you. The costs of any services you require which are not included in your membership will be billed to you afterwards, so you don't need to worry about making payment at the time.
Why horseboxes break down
- Lack of maintenance / servicing.
- Infrequent use, particularly in winter. It is a fact that horseboxes are not used on a regular daily or weekly basis. Therefore, vehicles are left immobile for long periods of time; this allows vital running components to seize up and corrode.
- Usually stored outside all year round.
- Failure to carry out pre-journey checks - tyres, wheel nuts, oil, coolant, fuel, brake and clutch hydraulic fluids, coolant hoses, serviceable spare tyre, battery, lights, wipers and washers, etc.
- Running spares not carried - spark plugs and associated ignition items such as condensors, points, distributor cap, fan belts, fuel filters, spare hoses, light bulbs, etc.
- Fuel filters blocked.
- Tyre blow-outs / punctures.
- Exhausts blowing or detached.
Top tips for travelling with horses
Travelling with horses can be a stressful event not only for you but also your horse.
Equine Rescue Services estimates that an incredible 70% of the breakdowns it attends could have been avoided with a little pre-journey preparation and basic safety procedures.
Equine Rescue Services has compiled 10 essential travel tips for our members:
- Plan your journey
- Loading your horse can take time and patience, especially if it is not a seasoned traveller. Don’t leave it until the last minute!
- Schedule in regular stops. Use these stops to check on your horse’s wellbeing and offer it water.
- Essential Checks
- Check your oil, water and fuel levels before setting off.
- Ensure your transporter is in good repair – i.e. a non slip floor, good ventilation and high hygiene levels are crucial.
- Consider your Horse
- Make your horse as comfortable as possible. Put down bedding or rubber matting and a full hay net.
- Put your horse in the rear facing position as research suggests this helps to keep stress levels to a minimum.
- Take extra water and hay in case you are delayed or breakdown.
- In case of long delays, carry extra clothing for you and additional blankets for your horse.
- Watch your Driving
- Take care when accelerating, changing gears and braking – do it as smoothly as possible to minimise discomfort to your horse. Remember, your horse can’t see where you’re going so is sensitive to sudden, jerky movements.
- Be prepared for any eventuality
- Carry a basic safety kit. This should include items such as a human and equine first aid kit, torch, high-vis jackets, a warning triangle and a phone charger. Make sure you have the number of your breakdown assistance provider to hand.
- Check your horse’s health before and after
- Check your horse is well enough to travel (a sick horse should not travel, unless it is to visit the vet or equine hospital). If in doubt check with your vet.
- On arrival at your destination, your horse should show an interest in food and water within 24 hours. Check their temperature and watch for signs of injury.
- Know the Law
- If you passed your driving test after January 1997, you now need to pass a separate test to a tow a trailer weighing over 750kg.
- An overloaded horsebox is illegal. Drive your empty horsebox to a public weighbridge. The difference between the GVW and the unladen weight is the amount you can legally carry.
- Maintain your Trailer
- Service your lorry or trailer annually.
- If it has a wooden floor, check for signs of rotting.
- Carry out basic checks such as brakes, lights and tyres every month.
- If you do breakdown…
- Call your breakdown service provider.
- Do not get the horses out of the vehicle.
- If you are in a lorry, stay with your horse if possible. If you are in a trailer, then open the groom’s door, providing it’s away from the traffic and safe to do so.
- Put your hazard lights on and put out a warning triangle
Items to be carried in case of emergency
- A mobile phone
- A warning triangle or flashing light
- Jump leads
- Warm jacket
- Reflective riding Jacket
- Your ERS membership details, plus the details of your towing vehicle's breakdown cover if applicable
- Your vet’s number, should you need advice.