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Buying a horsebox

(23 Posts)
frostyfingers Mon 31-Mar-14 15:03:53

We are mulling over the idea of swapping our trailer for a horsebox and having gone round and round in circles aren't much nearer any idea of what we really need/want.

We have looked at 3.5 coachbuilt types (not the vans) but the payload puts me off. Although we generally only travel one, there are occasions I need to put the pony in or a friend's larger horse. The payload of 1.2 tonnes isn't really enough on those occasions. I'm also not convinced about the inside - where the horses put their head is right over the storage bit and likely to get filthy, it would also need anti weave bars fitted to discourage them jumping out over the breastbar - if the back door is open it's quite inviting. I wondered about the ease of loading and unloading too.

This morning we went to look at several different sizes and came across a compact 7.5 tonne (16ft body) which could take 2 horses & 1 pony, or 3 ponies, with a small day living area. On paper this is more than we need, but financially it works out cheaper than the smaller boxes as they are less desirable (because of the licence issues, although as I'm an oldie mine is fine, and because it needs plating which the 3.5 doesn't). Upfront these are cheaper to buy and because it's ancient is unlikely to depreciate unlike the 3.5 which appear to be £3 or £4k more expensive in comparison. Tax is cheaper although obviously the plating process isn't, insurance is roughly the same.

However, I can't get my head around driving something as big as this (although it's shorter than the car/trailer combo, and whether it's worth this for the occasions when I will be carrying more than one horse).

Can anyone point out some blindingly obvious reasons as to why I should or shouldn't buy either of them - it boils down to smaller, initially more expensive, easier to manage but possibly less useful in the long term box, versus larger, slightly more expensive to run box, which will take as much as I'm ever likely to need horsewise......

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Incapinka Mon 31-Mar-14 19:02:01

I guess you need to look at the reasons why you want to change from trailer to lorry... We have had trailer, 3.5t which served a purpose but really struggled up the hills although ours sounds like it had a better layout than the one you have seen, also had 7.5t 3 horse with living which was lush but not cheap with the plating each year. Currently I am back with a trailer again. By all means if you have the cash and the need for a larger one with living then go for it. Or have a look at some different 3.5t as they can have a better layout and payload available. Sorry not much help!! And how much do you use it?!

Butkin Mon 31-Mar-14 20:36:02

We traded up from a trailer a couple of years ago. We went for a new build on an old ('53) 6.5 ton chassis as we wanted forward facing and with a decent living. We had a side ramp with large tack boxes on the rear. In the living we have double bed space in Luton plus extra bed can be made up from seating. We've a fridge and cooker (both never used!) but no other frills. It's been a bit of a money pit because they are so expensive to maintain and to pass it's plating etc. We're very happy with the design of it and it's not over big. I agree with what you say about the 3.5 ton - that's why we didn't go for it although we were tempted. In hindsight we regret not buying a 7.5t because we'd definitely have got more value for money. We plan to change soon and, like you, are in a quandary about what to do!! I think we'll go for an upmarket brand 7.5 ton but obviously old enough to fit our budget. The guy who does our box repairs says that buying boxes built from new by the likes of Oakley are always better than ones that have been put on old chassis by less well known makes. He has also told us to steer clear of Ivecos (what we have because only 6.5t chassis) in the future.

Booboostoo Tue 01-Apr-14 07:11:29

Well for 2-3 horses/ponies your only choice is a 7.5 ton. 5.2-6.5 ton are ideal if you want to travel 1-2 horses, forward/backward facing with small living but a good payload, but as soon as you start talking about 3 ponies the only way it will work is herringbone which you won't find in smaller lorries.

BTW loading/unloading on forward/backward facing is much easier and safer than on herringbone (usually there is a lot more space).

frostyfingers Tue 01-Apr-14 08:21:45

Interesting about herringbone Boo thank you. We are leaning more towards the 7.5 as the odds stack up against a 3.5 - payload problems, more expensive initially, possibly having to replace if we carry 2 more regularly, apparent higher tax rate. Really the only thing going for it is that it's smaller. The largest payload in a 3.5 is 1.2 (although I have heard mention of 1.5!) which isn't enough for 2 16.2's, plus kit, plus people - although we are not regularly travelling 2 it completely rules it out.

We've found a DAF 7.5 not too far from here who also wants to part ex with a trailer so we're waiting to hear from them. V reg, 5 years as a horse box & just under 150,000 miles. It looks in good condition but who knows! We've someone lined up to come with us and check anything we see.

We are using the trailer/car twice a week during the winter, and then probably weekly during the summer - we don't need living - just for day trips. The concern is that it's knackering the car, particularly as it's hilly round here, and the miles are really clocking up. It seems to be cheaper to buy a lorry than replace the car!

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Booboostoo Tue 01-Apr-14 08:52:48

Of course there are different types of lorries out there but in general what happens with 7.5 and herringbone and living is that the chassis is quite far off the ground (more so than 5.2 and loads more than 3.5 ton) so you have quite a steep ramp usually with a step up/down at the top. At the same time a lot of space is taken up by the living (many people with 7.5 want sleeping, kitchen, toilet) so that leaves you with a smaller space for the horses. The last horse in is the most difficult because you effectively put down the ramp, open the gates and find yourself with the horse towering above you over the step which gives you a lot less control.

Be careful with payload even with 7.5. The cab can be quite heavy itself and some of the older materials are very heavy so 7.5 won't necessarily guarantee you a good payload. Do you know about weight-bridges? They are publicly available ways of checking the weight of a lorry (google for a list of those near you). If you are really interested in a lorry ask the owner to take it with you to be weighed, it's the best way to confirm the payload (plaiting certificates will mention the payload at the time of the plaiting, but a clever owner could always strip everything off the lorry, including partitions, rubber mating, etc., just to get a good reading, so the most reliable way to check is to go with the owner there and then). Was this lorry converted 5 years ago? If yes it has a good chance of having been done with more modern, light-weight materials.

I don't think 3.5s have a higher tax rates, my 5.2 had a higher one than a 3.5 and I suspect it will go up with 7.5. The other thing is that plaiting costs more than MOT as well so keep that in mind.

If you do change your mind about the 3.5, another very important consideration is the design of the wall between the horses and the cab. Whether forward or backward facing the horses are effectively right behind your head so you need to make sure the manufacturer has taken this into account. They need to have put metal supports through the wall so that if you brake the horse doesn't end up in the can and made the partition from robust materials so that if the horse kicks or strikes out with its front legs they don't go through and hit you!

frostyfingers Tue 01-Apr-14 09:32:10

Obviously there's no way of knowing until you see it, but the description of this lorry says day living/could sleep 2 at a squeeze so I'm hoping it doesn't take up too much space. Yes, converted 5 years ago, and I've already been advised by the mechanic we have lined up to get it weighed empty but not stripped so will do that if we are serious about it. A couple we looked at yesterday really compromised the horse area for the living, which we don't want.

We've been advised to allow around £500 for cost of getting vehicle ready for plating and plating itself, although I haven't researched this fully yet. Tax wise the 3.5 seems to be around £140-£200, the 7.5 £165 so not much difference there. The steepness of the ramp has concerned me, although I know dhorse has travelled happily in a lorry many times, but on paper this doesn't look too bad. The whole thing is a veritable minefield!

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Booboostoo Tue 01-Apr-14 11:12:33

If you have time go to a competition this weekend and have a look at all the lorries together. Seeing them next to each other gives you a very good idea of the different ramp heights, size of horse area, etc.

Booboostoo Tue 01-Apr-14 11:14:33

Oh one more thing that occurs to me that you've probably thought of already: I hate the ones with external tack lockers in a position such that they take up space in the horse area. I've heard endless stories of horses rearing up on them, panicking and getting into all sorts of trouble. This one doesn't seem to have this problem as far as I can see in the photo, but keep it in mind for the future. My farrier just told me a of 2yo that broke its neck this way just last month.

frostyfingers Tue 01-Apr-14 12:40:17

We did that last weekend - wandering about the lorry park at the point to point explaining all the time that we were not eyeing the lorries up for nicking! I'm XC training on Sunday and hunter trialling the following week so have allowed time for a bit of window shopping then too. A couple we saw yesterday had racks above and behind and a ledge in front which I didn't like - this one here, and another were just a large compartment divided into three with nothing else except partitions and tie rings which is what we want. It really helps writing this all down - I keep reading back to make sure that I haven't missed anything, thank you for your thoughts.

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Booboostoo Wed 02-Apr-14 10:31:47

Sounds like you've thought of all the sensible things! Hope you find a great lorry and remind your mechanic to try to check the floor, it's not something they would do as standard with regular lorries but well worth it with the weight of the horses in there.

frostyfingers Thu 03-Apr-14 14:54:26

Well we went to see it last night and were very taken with it. Clean, well maintained and apparently in good mechanical order. The horse area is immaculate, the partitions were easy to move although I found the ramp a little heavy but could do it on my own, and there is the wherewithal for another spring. We didn't drive it, but went out for 40 min test drive including up and down hills, emergency stop and a bit of reversing. We were given a sheaf of paperwork to look at, it has been serviced 6 monthly and is plated until July.

We have asked for a mechanic to look over it and check usual things including brakes, tyres, gear box and clutch and the body but if it passes that then we'll start negotiating. Scary!

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Booboostoo Thu 03-Apr-14 16:56:45

Great! I hope it all works out!

frostyfingers Mon 07-Apr-14 16:16:35

It's ours! Picked it up this morning after it passed a major going over by a mechanic on Friday and Saturday. Gulp! It's sitting on the yard so I'm going to play with it later after work, I'll take it out tomorrow without horse to get diesel and a feel of it, then a first official outing on Sunday.

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Booboostoo Mon 07-Apr-14 18:09:10

Brilliant, enjoy!

Butkin Mon 07-Apr-14 19:24:04

Excellent - let us know how you get on with it!

Eve Mon 07-Apr-14 19:30:37

I get my new lorry in 2 weeks, being plated before I hand over the cash.

I have ended up with one without cut-through, but got it for a very good price so thats something I will get done.

Am very excited & after DS and I being soaked to the knickers today at a combined training we are so looking forward to having a lorry where at least we can get changed into some dry clothes!

frostyfingers Tue 08-Apr-14 17:37:34

I took it out yesterday and was absolutely terrified - it feels like you're going 60mph when actually it's nearer 30mph. A lot of not very happy people last night I'm afraid - one Royal Mail van beeped his horn and flashed his lights which I thought was a tad rude!

Had another go today and still managed to be rather slow but feel a little less nervous - I even went through some roadworks without collecting cones, and through the village without apparently scaring anyone too much. I've just done a 3 point turn and reversed into a parking area and once I've got to grips with the size it will definitely be easier than the trailer. It's still scary though!

Next job is selling the trailer - Wessex Clubman which takes 2 16.2's, in good nick, clean and well maintained (new tyres, damper & lynch pins, plus floor, seals and electrics just checked) - any ideas what a reasonable price is? It's lighter than some others so can be towed by lighter cars which is why we got it, and it can be manoeuvred off the car by one person. Selling new at around £4.5k.....

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Eve Fri 11-Apr-14 21:52:28

Are you old enough not to need a test?

Even though I am, I have booked an HGV instructor for 3 hours to come and teach me in the lorry, how to check it, drive, reverse etc. so I am take it out confidently. XC courses are all down narrow roads here!

Trailer I would say £2.5 - £3k. if newish (less than 10) £1.5-£2k for an older model (over 10 years)

Booboostoo Sat 12-Apr-14 07:24:36

You'll get used to the horsebox really quickly! Just take your time and don't let other drivers pressure you into stressing out. Look out for maniacs over (and even under) taking you at every opportunity! I even been undertaken in roundabouts!!!

frostyfingers Sat 12-Apr-14 10:49:48

I've been out a couple more times and am getting a feel of it - although 40mph still feels like 90mph! For once Eve being old has an advantage...... Reversing is a piece of cake compared to the trailer and as long as you swing out enough turning is much easier.

It is amazing how impatient people are, and what risks they seem to be prepared to take, but I try hard to ignore them - they don't know that I don't have ££££'s worth of horse in there.

Dhorse has had a practice load and waltzed in and turned like a pro, we went in a few times and he was a bit confused as to why we didn't actually go anywhere but we're off to a hunter trial tomorrow.

We were going to put £3k ONO on the trailer and see what happens I think, it's been beautifully cleaned and looks (and is) good so if we get £2.5k we'll be happy.

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Eve Sun 27-Apr-14 15:52:45

I got mine yesterday!!!!! So excited!!!!

Interior needs bit of an update, new cushion covers & new kitchen doors.

Drive it 40 miles home yesterday & didn't take anyone out (phew) air brakes take some getting used to though!

frostyfingers Tue 29-Apr-14 09:09:37

Well done Eve, tis all very exciting though. I find the brakes quite sharp too - you think nothing's happening so press a bit harder and if you're not careful it's almost an emergency stop! Dhorse seemed very happy when he went in and was much happier loading on his own - I've always had to use nanny pony to get him in when leaving home.

Our lorry has gone to have the ramp spring adjusted a little, I just can't quite get the ramp all the way up on my own which is no good, so hopefully once that's sorted we're done for now.

The interior of our living bit was recycled from a caravan, you might find something suitable that way if you need it. Have fun.

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