(Please don’t consider this as a true review of the English Horsebox…)
I have a horsey friend who is from the UK.
She always calls my horse trailer a ‘horsebox’.
One day I asked her if a horse box was different than a horse trailer. She said, YES. I asked, HOW?… It was then that my friend did her best to describe to me something I couldn’t wrap my head around.
She said it was like a bus for you and your horse. A BUS? Then she described it as similar to a vacation vehicle. A WINNEBAGO?
Obviously, I was not getting it… she continued that the horseboxes of Europe are one vehicle. You don’t have to have a truck, you just have the one horsebox, similar to a motorhome with horses in the back instead of a waterbed.
The downside, she said, was that for many of the larger horseboxes – and most of them are larger, you need a driver with a special license.
So, I decided to look on the Internet to learn a bit more.
First off, I have to say that the initial images cleared up the brain freeze I was having on this. They look like variations on motorhomes with European styling. The insides look only vaguely similar to our motorhomes and without any European styling…
What a fun concept! Touring around with your horses in the back, stopping at KOA campsites!
The first few photos I came across were the 2 horse, smaller versions. They looked like cross between a handicap van and an airport rental car bus. I didn’t see any of the glamor that you find in the US horse trailers. I almost felt that by the looks of the horseboxes, if you weren’t hauling your horses, you could pop open the sides and sell hot-dogs or perhaps start a mobile locksmith company…
OK, maybe I’m getting off track… but the reason I was getting off track was because all the websites were very vague on the horse parts of the horsebox. It was as if the horses were a secret. It was as if they didn’t want you to look behind the curtain.
What blew me away culturally was the hugely different approaches to marketing and sales on the UK sites.
For example, in America, if you wanted to know about a horse trailer, you’d google “horse trailer” and several sites would pop up instantly. You’d click on your choices and within a few minutes you’d have seen several charts, lists, layouts, diagrams, options, photos, animations, demonstrations, reviews, rebuttals and You Tube videos to educate yourself on everything from wheel bases to equine wall padding. For sure, you’d have a pretty good idea of the ins-and-outs of horse trailers after your initial search.
Au contraire with my UK Horsebox search, my friends. After a few minutes of searching, I wanted to pull my hair out. DOESN’T ANYONE WANT TO SELL ME A HORSEBOX? THERE IS NO INFO HERE!
I swear to horsegods, after looking for 15 minutes, I knew only a bit more than I knew before I looked at all. It was as if it was impolite for me to be wanting to know anything… I was so confused. I had a million questions and all they wanted to show me was the shiny exteriors and a few interior photos with minor description. ???
SO I DUG DEEPER
Determined that I had simply made some Intercontinental search engine mistakes, I continued to ferret through as many UK horsebox manufacturers as possible.
After another 15 minutes, it became comical. Yes, I did find a few more details and measurements, but not much. So, it was at this time that I started simply gathering favorites according to the styling and marketing materials. After all, isn’t that what real advertising is all about? I’d clip interesting colors or logo designs… I’d pull a photo based on the pretty background… all emotional stuff. Nothing I should ever use to purchase a trailer, but it was more fun than pulling UK information teeth.
UK HORSE TRAILERS (not boxes)
I did see horse trailers on the UK sites. There were very few of them and they resembled the Brenderup horse trailers that we see here in the US. Lightweight, easy to pull. Simple and elegant. Two-horse only. They didn’t have any larger horse trailers there. Or, none that I could find.
I have a few conclusions – based on not much – regarding English Horseboxes
1) The horsebox exterior is more important than the horses inside.
I say this because I could find hardly any information on the horse part of the horseboxes. It was as if either they are all the same and I should have known that or, the horses are an afterthought. Dunno. But I could find minimal information or detail about the horse accommodations – certainly not the minutia you can find in American made horse trailer manufacturer sites…
2) The horses can ride frontways or backways.
I only know that because I finally read it on one website. Phew!
3) Photos of horses in, around or using the horseboxes are not important to these advertisements. (I only found these two photos of horses the entire time I was searching.)
4) If you compare the insides of the top-of-the-line UK horsebox with the insides of a top-of-the-line US horse trailer, we USA people look like spoiled royalty… which is pretty funny since a horsebox comes from the land with royalty.
It was almost embarrassing to look inside the US luxury liner horse trailers because ours are so technically spiffy and over the top cushy that we look a bit Ugly American ridiculous.
5) The outside of the UK Horseboxes were much cooler than the US trailers… they looked like Rock Band Motorcades! I’d love to haul my horses along the freeway looking like Maroon 5 was pulling into town… ;)
After looking through all the materials on hand, I kinda like the idea of the horses riding with me in one vehicle. Somehow, it just feels more safe. I’m pretty sure it isn’t more safe…
On the other hand, in the UK, you cannot separate the cab from the trailer so you don’t have the use of the truck to go haul something smaller – or drive away at a horse show.
Then again, in Europe, there is a huge ‘for hire’ trade that carts horses off to shows for people. Many riders there don’t have their own trailers or the expense of their own trailers.
Not having my own trailer would be tough since I’m a trail rider and like to go whenever I can. I wouldn’t want to wait or schedule a driver. But, I think there are far less trail riders (or hackers, as they call them) in the UK… If they do trail ride, I think it is in the country where they probably own the land or something like that.
For me, I have decided that I would rather have the option of the truck separate from the trailer. I like having my truck when I need a truck.
But the UK is not as big or as roomy to drive as it is here. The streets are much older and more narrow. A Dodge dually in London would be awful… I cannot even imagine trying to maneuver a 8 horse bumper-pull.
So, I understand how the horsebox came to be… ;)
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
In the UK, a “horsebox” is the generic term for a vehicle which is used to take horses from one place to another. It can be either a horse truck (motorised), or a horse trailer (towed). Unlike US horse trailers, horseboxes here are often rather small, for the reasons already explained. US horse trailers may be quite large, transporting a large number of horses. Here, typically horse trailers will have 2 stalls, and max out at 4 stalls, while horse trucks (or horse lorries, as some people call them), will typically have 2 stalls, but rarely have more than 8 stalls.
Just came across your blog which amused me being English! I love the American horse trailers but we don’t have anything like that over here. If you need to transport several horses then you will have a lorry which will can be stalled to take either just two horses or several horses – think polo ponies. Show jumpers and those competing at the top tend to have those rather flash models that you show. these will all have rather nice accomodation! There are also lorries that are used for hunting and go out for small events and so won’t have any living on them, just stalled for horses. the majority of owners however will have horse trailers which carry two horses, although there are some that are for single animals (pulled by cars) and a couple of companies produce some trailers that will take four ponies but not four horses! This is all down to the weight that a 4 x 4 vehicle can legally tow. Also its not much fun in the country if you are towing down single track lanes if you have a large vehicle. check our Rice horse trailers, Ifor Williams trailers, Winterbourne Horseboxes, and the very smart lorries at Oakley! hope this helps!!
Hmm, this is interesting indeed! I did know that they call equine transporters “horseboxes” in the U.K., having read a very many Dick Francis novels. :-) And I knew what they looked like, i.e. that they were all-in-one RVs cum horse stalls. What I have found fascinating for a long time is that here in the U.S., we don’t have them anymore. We USED to use these things but we called them horse vans. Nowadays, the only kind of horse vans you see here are the gargantuan cross-country 18-wheeled haulers. The little horse vans, the ones that held two, four or max six horses, have all but disappeared. This makes me a bit sad because I have happy memories of riding in the back of one to 4-H horse shows. The horses would be sneezing and snuffling and trying to eat my hair as we traveled (I’m sure it wasn’t safe or legal but my trainer never worried much about that, and we kids had a ball). I’ve seen a few around Lexington, KY, but by and large pretty much all you get now in the U.S. are horse trailers. I’m sure with the wide-open spaces here that people prefer having the tow vehicle separate for flexibility, just like you said.
I do still think it’s weird that they don’t pay more attention to the horse-friendly features in their advertising over there, though! Maybe the only people who can afford them care more about plush living quarters for themselves?
Couldn’t said it better, researched these myselves a few months back and came upon the same frustrations you did. Enjoy your blog very much
They are nice looking and if I only had 1 or 2 horses and not 9 I wouldnt mind haveing one :-)
Having been born in the UK and visiting back there several times as an adult, trust me most do not own boxes like that. We stayed at a B&B that had a hunt on their property and one of the gentry drove his horse over in his own horse box that was similar to a stock truck over here. It was nice and roomy and safe for his lovely hunter with a high ramp that the horse had to use to enter and leave. We went to Newmarket and Lambourn and saw nothing like the amazing rigs you have posted. I would have loved to seen one up close. Did see lots of Land Rovers pulling Brenderup type horse trailers and did not see anything larger than a 2 horse. We stayed in Newmarket for several days and in the mornings it was amazing to see lines of race horses walking through the early dawn in the middle of town to which ever exercise area they worked at. It was an amazing experience. I could see them from the window of our B&B room.
The fact that you will haul a horse trailer yourself is amazing to me. The whole idea is terrifying to this wimp.
As for the illustrations, what I liked were the horses brand new and fancy shipping boots!
I love the colors! Ummm….I even like the fact that is all in one. Interesting. Thank you for the information you could find. Never would of thought……