Buying a Horsebox or Trailer

Evaluate your requirements

When considering purchasing a horsebox or trailer, you firstly need to decide whether you are going to buy a new horsebox or a second hand horsebox, and evaluate what requirements you have. For instance:

  • Will the horsebox be used only for short journeys or will the horsebox have to accommodate beds or overnight accommodation?
  • What amount of travelling are you likely to be doing?
  • What specific features, if any, do you require your horsebox to have?
  • Once you have evaluated your needs and chosen the type that suits your horse or horses the best, you will be best in a position to evaluate your budget and decide whether you can afford a new trailer, or whether a second hand horsebox will be your best option.

New Horseboxes for Sale

Nowadays modern horseboxes have a wide range of specifications and some horseboxes basically comprise a small box which is derived from a van conversion. This option can be quite small and thus can restrict what you are able to carry with you.

"However, as a matter of course, you should always ensure that the horsebox you choose is one which your horse is happy to get into and that he has adequate space available inside."

As with anything, especially in these days of financial hardship and recession, it always pays to shop around as there is a vast array of horseboxes on offer, whether they be cheap horseboxes, new horseboxes or second hand horseboxes and as with many cars, horseboxes do come with optional extras but try not to let these divert your attention too much - remember the main priority is that it offers a safe and comfortable means of transport for your horse.

Second Hand Horseboxes

Buying a second hand horsebox can be quite a tricky operation, and is sometimes quite risky too, but by being level headed and sensible you should be able to avoid the snags and hazards of buying a second hand horsebox, and ultimately locate one which you and your horse are happy with. There are many "cheap horseboxes" advertised on internet sites such as Ebay, but when buying a second hand horsebox you would do well to remember that it must have been serviced or well maintained by its previous owner, otherwise you are just going to be buying into a whole load of heartache and future expense.

What to specifically check for

The Ramp

When purchasing a second hand horsebox you should check the floor of the ramp; of particular importance is the sub floor as rot here can be particularly harmful. Check also that the battens are sound and fixed in securely.

Don't be afraid to jump up and down on the ramp to ascertain whether there are any loose fittings. Listen to the sound as you jump because any rattles can be a signpost for problems with the sub frame. By the way, don't be afraid to jump up and down on the ramp in case you break it - remember if you feel it won't hold your weight then you wouldn't want your horse to go on it.

Finally make sure that the ramp closes firmly and tightly and check the screws carefully.

Test Drive

In an ideal situation you should go on a test drive with the owner doing the driving - making sure that both A and B roads are used - while you take the opportunity to carefully listen for any unusual noises and rattles.

When you complete the test drive, immediately feel the wheel hubs; if they are hot this could potentially indicate a problem in that the bearings are failing. Bear in mind that if the test drive was only for a short journey, as invariably it will have been, the bearings shouldn't get hot. They will get warm, however, over a longer distance.

If you are still interested in the horsebox, arrange for a second test drive - this time you should drive the vehicle, making sure you are happy with the width, height and the weight of the vehicle. Before you actually embark on the test drive, you should check with your insurance company to make sure you are covered in the event of a mishap.

Haggle

If you are still happy with all aspects of the horsebox or trailer, then now is the time to haggle. It should go without saying that you should never pay the full asking price, especially in the current economic climate.

Do your homework before you actually decide that you want the horsebox, check out the prices of other second hand horseboxes in similar condition and compare the price to the one being quoted.

If you feel there are any problems with the horsebox/trailer, estimate how much you feel you will have to spend on remedying them and then ask the seller to reduce the price by this amount. You can back up your negotiations by telling him the reason why you feel he should reduce his price.

Keep your negotiations amicable - and weigh the situation up as you go along. If the seller really is adamant that he will not budge on price, why not ask if he can "throw something in" as an alternative, after all, Every Little Helps.

See also: Once you've bought a horsebox, you'll probably need to look into choosing a horsebox insurance policy.