Our vehicle is a Renault Master 3.5 ton horse box that can carry 2 up to 16.2 hh horses, Bright, light and airy with a low centre of gravity, these vehicles can travel safely at normal traffic speeds.The low ramp facilitates easier loading and is ideal for reluctant loaders or injured horses on their way to the vet's.
The horses face and travel backwards which according to research* (see 'travelling backwards' below) decreases stress and lowers heart rates. Consequently, horses’ performance on arrival is less likely to be affected by their journey. Our driver employs smooth acceleration and deceleration driving techniques with careful cornering to give an comfortable ride.
The horsebox is padded and rubberised throughout, well ventilated and illuminated. Horses are visually monitored through the observation window from the cab .. Regular breaks are made on longer journeys to offer more hay or haylage and drinking water. We carry drinking water, human and equine first aid kits.
There is a groom area for tack and seating
Travelling Backwards Advantages of Transporting Horses in a Rear Facing Position and Loading from the Side. The loading and orientation of a horse within a transportation vehicle has been identified as a potential source of stress to both animal and handler. The use of a side door eases the loading of an animal into a vehicle. Rather than having the horse face a small, dark opening, which they may perceive as scary, they walk into a light airy space. In the rear facing position, the horse's head is not constantly carried in an elevated position and the horse may use its head and neck to balance more effectively. It may also be advantageous that the forelegs are placed in the rear of the vehicle where they may adapt to the swaying motions of braking and acceleration more readily than the hind legs. This "buttress" posture adaptation is commonly exhibited during grazing, whereby the shoulder provides better lateral support than the rear legs. Often, the rear legs engage in a side stepping action when responding to lateral pressure, such as experienced in a trailer navigating a sharp corner. A study examining the response to travelling forwards or backwards during a one hour journey showed a significant decrease in heart rate in the horses travelling backwards.
These horses also tended to rest more often on their rumps in maintaining their balance. The forward facing horses held their heads in a higher than average position and also moved more frequently due to difficulty in balancing. Interestingly, the forward facing horses vocalised more frequently. Heart rates increased at loading and unloading, and decreased during the journey as the horses became accustomed to the motion of transport. The authors concluded that the forward orientation may be more physically demanding due to efforts implemented to maintain balance. Above taken from:-Physiology, Balance, and Management of Horses During Transportation by Dr. Carolyn Stull, Extension Animal Welfare Specialist, University of CaliforniaEffects of transporting horses facing either forwards or backwards on their behaviour and heart rate by Dr Natalie K Waran, Institute of Ecology & Resource Management, University of Edinburgh