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Loading and unloading

After completing your vehicle checks, consider where to park your vehicle to load and unload your horses. Make sure the area is safe, level as well as space to move the horse around easily.

  • Last reviewed: 5th May 2022
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It is not recommended to travel horses in a trailer with the front top door in the hinged open position, due to the risk of injury to your horse from external objects entering the trailer.

Safety first

  • When lowering the ramp stand to one side so you are not under the ramp when it descends.  
  • If the trailer has a front ramp, opening it whilst loading can make loading more inviting. However, every horse is different so consider your horse’s behaviour and preferences.  
  • Make sure the jockey door is unlocked to exit through after loading.  
  • Ensure the breast bars are secure and at the correct height for your horse. 
  • Open the partition (from the rear in a trailer) to allow enough room for when you load. 
  • Some horses prefer to travel with some bedding down on the floor - absorbent material is ideal as it assists by soaking up urine when travelling. 
  • It is not recommended to travel horses in a trailer with the front top door in the hinged open position, due to the risk of injury to your horse from external objects entering the trailer. 
  • A friend on the ground to help can be beneficial.  
  • If your horse has never travelled before or is difficult to load, practice in a calm manner loading and unloading. The first journey for them should ideally be short to get them used to travelling.  
When handling your horse, you should wear...
  • A riding hat – with chin strap secured 
  • Sturdy footwear 
  • Gloves 
Your horse should wear…
  • A leather headcollar – leather breaks under stress 
  • Travel boots 
  • Tail bandage or guard  
  • Travel rug – weather dependent 
Did you know…

Modern baler twine can have a breaking strain of 500kg or more!  

You should always tie your horse up with a breakaway point, so if your horse does pull back, they do not cause injury. We recommend devices such as the Tether Tie, or a similar breakaway device. Alternatively, simply split your baler twine into a thinner piece.  

Loading a horse

  • Control – we recommend loading a horse with a bridle over the leather headcollar. The bridle should be removed for your journey.  
  • Trailers – if travelling one horse, load them on the right-hand side of the trailer. If travelling two horses, the heavier horse should be on the right. This helps with balance on corners.  
  • Position the horse facing straight at the ramp and walk them up the ramp.  
  • Secure the breach bar and/or partition – a friend on the ground is helpful for assisting. 
  • Tie the horse to your tether tie or baler twine using a quick release knot. The rope should be short enough that the horse cannot lower its head under the breast bar (trailer) or partition (horse box).  
  • Stand to the side and raise the ramp slowly, then secure all fastening. 
  • Check round the vehicle before you set off – ensure all doors and ramps are secure. Close the top front door on your trailer before travelling.  

Unloading a horse

  • On arrival, check your surroundings and then lower the ramp to the floor. Remember to stand to the side.  
  • Untie your horse and place the bridle on the horse before you undo the breast/breach bar or open the partition. Ensure you are in control. Don’t allow the horse to rush down the ramp.  
  • If you have to leave your horse unattended on your transport for a short time, we advise you leave the ramps closed. Leave your contact details in a visible place such as the windscreen in case of an emergency.  

Look after your transport

  • Remove any droppings, urine, soiled bedding or debris after each use and allow the floor to dry. This helps prevent rot or corrosion to the floor.  
  • If you notice any defects when checking your transport have your transport professionally checked.  
  • Be cautious when cleaning with water, this can enter side panels or affect wooden flooring stability. If cleaning, lift any rubber matting, sweep off standing water and allow to dry in a well-ventilated place before replacing the mats and shutting the ramps.  
Vehicle security
  • Attach your security device when the vehicle is not in use. A hitch lock or wheel clamp for trailers, or a steering wheel lock for horseboxes is helps prevent theft. 
  • Vehicle GPS trackers can be added to vehicles for enhanced security.  
  • Check if your vehicle has an immobiliser fitted. If not, they can be professionally fitted by reputable mechanics.  
  • At a show, consider your vehicle security. Can you lock valuables away? Secure the ramps and lock the vehicle before leaving it unattended.