No-one likes to imagine the worst, but working out how you would deal with an emergency situation can make all the difference. If an accident occurs which involves a horsebox or trailer in which a horse or horses are being transported, there is a high possibility that the horses in transit will be trapped or injured. Even if the horses are uninjured, it may not be possible to move them out of the horsebox or trailer immediately and knowing how to handle an emergency situation is therefore essential.
• The most important thing under these circumstances is to remain calm which will go against everything that you will naturally be feeling. Staying level headed will enable you to make clear decisions with clarity and communicate clearly with others helping.
• Once you have assessed the situation then call 999 immediately and tell them that you have horses on board and the nature of the situation. It is really important that you can give them an accurate report of what is going on so that the correct resources can be dispatched.
• The emergency services are trained on how to assist with livestock and they will arrive on the scene with reduced sirens and minimal flashing lights to prevent stressing horses further.
• Depending on how far away from home you are, you will need to call your vet. It is vital that a vet is present to assist with sedation or injury. If you are too far away for your own vet to attend then you must tell the emergency services and they will arrange a vet for you.
• You then need to take steps to make other road users aware that there is a potentially dangerous situation to prevent further accidents. This will necessitate getting out of your vehicle if safe to do so. However, it is imperative that you protect yourself by putting on a reflective jacket. You should then place a warning triangle several metres behind your vehicle to give other road users warning that there is a hazard and to give them time to brake.
• It is really important that you are not tempted to get into the back with your horse. This might be your natural reaction but actually you could be making the situation a lot worse. If you were to get injured then the emergency services will have to focus on you and your horse will become secondary. The best thing that you can do is to remove any opportunity for the horse to escape. So if you have opened doors or let down the ramp then quietly closing them will prevent your horse from seeing an opportunity to escape which could cause him to struggle and injure himself.
• Unless you have risk assessed and you have no other choice (ie if you have a fire break out) under no circumstances should you attempt to unload your horse without the emergency services in attendance. If this becomes necessary steps will be taken to minimise the danger and can include the closing off of roads, having another horsebox on standby to immediately re-load into and having the area cordoned off to ensure that there are no escape routes as well as having the vet to sedate your horse prior to unloading.
• When emergency services arrive, they will ask questions to gather as much information as possible and the vet will come up with a plan to extricate your horse to a place of safety. At this point you need to try and take a step back from the situation and allow the emergency services to do their job. They will be highly trained to deal with the situation so have faith and try to keep calm.
• Preparing and planning are critical. It is a good idea to discuss with your team the procedure you will follow in the event of an incident or accident. This can keep you all a lot calmer if the time comes to put it into practice.
Remember KELLY Horseboxes are on hand to advise or check your tyres for you as well as all other lorry health checks and MOT’s
Part 8 in the Transport for Safety series is all about top tips for preparation and planning.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Consider your Horse
Make your horse as comfortable as possible. Put down bedding or rubber matting and provide him with a full hay net.
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 and a waterproof rug for your horse.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Maintain your Vehicle
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.
10. 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.