Breakdowns | Towing, Trailers & Horse Boxes

Best practice tips:

  • Have your policy numbers to hand; car/breakdown and equine specific recovery.
  • One of the most common causes of breakdowns are blown tyres, so make a note of what tyres are on your vehicle and trailer with all the numbers. If it’s dark or raining, you’ll wish you’d taken note.
  • Don’t forget to plan your route and check weather conditions. It will be good practise to start checking if there are any other events that may delay your journey. 
  • Check the route just before you load to make sure there haven’t been any last-minute road closures. 
  • Carry emergency contacts (next of kin, vets).
  • We also recommend downloading the ‘What3Words App’, it will help identify your location within 3x3sqm which the emergency services are now using to find the exact locations of incidents.
  • When on the motorway or major A road, don’t unload your horse unless the police or agencies have granted permission.

Useful contact numbers:

  • Highways England: 0300 123 5000
  • Traffic Scotland: 0800 028 1414
  • Traffic Wales: 0300 123 1213 or 999
  • Northern Ireland: 999

Highways England offer guidance on what to do in the event of a breakdown. 

The DVSA and DEFRA now consider it illegal to transport horses on board a horsebox being either lifted or straight-bar towed behind a recovery vehicle. The only exception to this might be to move the vehicle a very short distance to enable safe transfer of the horses to fresh transport. Only DEFRA approved transporters may carry out this transport. 

However, it may be safer doing this than risking unloading and reloading horses on a busy motorway for example. Usually this would only happen short distance journey and/or to get the vehicle to a suitable and safe place to transfer the horses onto a new vehicle.

According to the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order, 2006: “breakdown vehicle operators attending vehicles carrying animals that have broken down or been involved in a road traffic accident should not attempt to move the vehicle with animals on board if it cannot be repaired at roadside unless directed to do so by the police or other competent authority for reasons of public safety”. And “In the unlikely event that a vehicle has to be moved by a recovery operator to the nearest suitable place of destination, it is suggested that the recovery vehicle operator is accompanied (where possible) by the transporter and that the vehicle is not moved by means of a suspended tow.” Be aware of this legislation when choosing a breakdown operator and it is worth reading all the documentation and small print of your policy to make sure you are aware of any details that may affect you if you do need to call your breakdown service out.

For more information on the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 2006.

Breakdowns when towing 

Many people assume their car breakdown will be sufficient, but this is not the case. Ordinary car breakdown cover EXCLUDES recovery of a trailer with horses on-board, so you could be left stranded with your horses. It is possible to add horse trailer assistance and equine recovery to some policies.  

Further advice for transporting your horse

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