Horsebox or horse trailer

What are the main differences between a horse trailer and a horsebox?

So you own a horse and you need to transport it!  When it comes to transporting horses essentially you have two options, a horsebox or a horse trailer.

A horsebox is a style of vehicle that’s designed solely for transporting one or many horses.  Horseboxes look similar to a camper and are suitable for transporting one or many horses.

A horse trailer is a “mobile stable” that you simply attach to the back of your car via a towbar.  These can be quite small or large, ensuring room for the horse to be safe and as comfortable as possible whilst being transported.

Is one better than the other?

This usually depends on how often you wish to move your horse and also what kind of budget you have.  Most people will only transport their horse occasionally, so a horse trailer will always be much cheaper and will have a very basic cover as part of your car insurance policy.  If you own a horse trailer it will always be advisable to take out a dedicated horse trailer insurance policy for it.   For the ultimate protection and convenience a horsebox would always be more suitable.  As a horsebox is it’s own vehicle dedicated horsebox insurance will need to be obtained so it can be driven on the roads.

Getting the right cover

When insuring a horsebox you can pick from third party only, third party fire & theft and fully comprehensive.  In addition to this you can usually choose other types of cover such as breakdown assistance.

Driving and handling

Driving a horsebox is usually much easier than driving with a trailer especially as some people do not like to tow or even have a car that’s suitable to tow.  Especially true if you need to travel on long journeys.  A horsebox will usually be kitted out with suspension which is suited to carrying live animals, so less hard impacts on bumpy roads which would could stress the horse.  Another drawback of the trailer is the need to physically move it and hook it up before each journey, which can be quite a difficult feat in itself requiring some decent strength.  Naturally, none of this is necessary with the horsebox.

If travelling over large hills, the added weigh of a trailer can lead to premature suspension wear of your vehicle.  There will always be the risk of the trailer unhitching too which could be disastarous.  Ultimately, driving in a horsebox is always going to be more comfortable, safer and easier all round to load the horse(s).

Transport of horses and other equipment

The horsebox gives a better environment for transporting horses than a trailer. It’s not just about the room within the horsebox, but also the direction that the horses are facing when being transported.  Some horses simply dislike being transported in a trailer and it is very difficult (sometimes impossible) to get them inside without inducing massive stress.  The horses enter using a side ramp with an entrance which is more spacious and more comfortable to get through.  A further major advantage of the horsebox lies in it’s massive storage space.  You can take everything with you, food, clothing and all your tack etc for the long journey.    Something else to consider is the use of the trailer for other things, such as moving large objects which you couldn’t fit in a car, essentially making it a large van!

Price and operating costs

Horseboxes will always demand a higher price than a horse trailer, the cost of normal operation is much lower, and if you do not have a powerful enough car to tow a trailer, you must include the cost of the vehicle to that of a trailer, which is something to consider.  Unfortunately, owners of trailers can be faced with high fuel costs due to the tow weight, for which their vehicle has not been designed.  Higher insurance costs also need to be taken into account, so it’s sometimes a natural progressing to later switch to a more economical horsebox.

Please view this VOSA article which has a very informative guide to owning a horsebox or horse trailer A Guide to owning a horsebox or trailer (PDF)