Winter safety reminders for horse owners!

It has been one year since changes to the Highway Code prioritised horses over drivers. However, it’s important to remain proactive as a horse owner. Here’s what to do if you’re towing a horsebox and it breaks down.

Highway Code for Horse Riders - A-Plan Insurance

You may have heard about our previous campaigns to improve safety for horses on UK roads in particular. In fact, last year during Road Safety Week, A-Plan’s specialist equine team gave away almost 600 of our yellow ‘CAUTION’ horse riding jackets to safety conscious horse owners.

With raising awareness of visibility ever more important as the weather worsens, A-Plan’s equine team offered each person receiving a horse box quotation in January received a BriteAngle LED warning triangle.

We touched base with Lydia Heywood, A-Plan’s Equine Insurance specialist (pictured on her event horse, Mink) to find out more.

“Country lanes have become increasingly fast and treacherous to ride on, so we welcomed the changes to the Highway Code in February.

“Statistics show that up to two horses are killed on UK roads each week, and we are hoping that changes to the Highway Code will help prevent these devastating deaths.

There is still more to do! There is always an unpredictable element in horse riding during the winter months, in addition to the increased risk of a horse box or trailer break down during the cold weather, so it’s important to refresh your memory with sensible precautions to take.”

What to do if you break down with a horse box?

While standard car breakdown rescue services offer assistance with fixing your vehicle at the roadside, they WILL NOT recover a vehicle with a horse on board. Our Top 10 Tips may provide a helpful reminder to keep you and your horse safe and sound until help arrives.

  1. Prevention is better than cure – make sure you keep your vehicle well maintained; it is your responsibility to keep your horsebox road-worthy.
  2. Keep supplies of food and water on board for both of you – it could be a long wait. It is also a good idea to keep a warm coat if it’s cold weather. A bridle and extra lunge lines are also useful items to keep on board, as well as equine and human first aid kits.
  3. Always travel with a fully charged mobile phone with your breakdown service, insurance company and vets telephone numbers stored in the contacts. A hands-free kit is essential so that you can use the phone on the move, if necessary. It is also an idea to keep a back-up hard copy of these phone numbers, somewhere safe in the vehicle.
  4. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and what time you are due to arrive at your destination, especially if you’re travelling alone.
  5. If you do break down on a motorway, try to get your vehicle to a safe place to stop – on the hard shoulder or as far left as possible. On no account should doors on the same side as the traffic be used.
  6. Don’t panic and don’t try and take your horse out of the horsebox. Check they are comfortable and calm and have access to food and water. Make sure that the vehicle is well ventilated.
  7. Keep yourself safe – do not stay in the vehicle. Keep your hazards on and switch off the ignition. Where possible, the police suggest drivers should stay outside the car on the nearest verge. Be aware of your own safety and wear bright or reflective clothing if you have any.
  8. If you are on the motorway, you should call the highways agency/police via 999/112 as they may need to close a lane so that the breakdown service can safely recover your horse.
  9. 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”.
  10. Make sure you have the right breakdown cover in place – A-Plan’s breakdown cover can also provide you with trusted horse transport if your vehicle can’t be repaired roadside. What a relief that could be!  

If you would like to talk to our equine insurance specialists about horse transport with our breakdown cover, equine insurance or horsebox insurance, call them directly on 01743 455911. The team will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.