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Buying a horsebox

The choice for those looking to buy a horsebox is vast. One of the choices is whether to opt for a new build horsebox or seek for a secondhand vehicle.

New Build

Whether it be on a new chassis or second-hand chassis, a new build horsebox can be built to your exact requirements in terms of layout, travelling configuration, living accommodation and accessories. However, just like buying a new car there are significant variations in terms of build quality and price. A coach built horsebox is where a brand new body is built onto a chassis or a conversion, where an existing body is converted. The latter is common in the 3.5tonne category.


A lorry previously converted for the purpose of transporting horses can prove the most economical way of purchasing a horsebox. The obvious disadvantage to purchasing second hand is that you are less likely to be able to configure the layout of the vehicle to your own specification. There is also likely to be more wear and tear on the vehicle in certain areas and these should be checked thoroughly for signs of weakness of 'quick patch' repair.

Whether buying new or secondhand, please read our tips and hints below to avoid some of the common pitfalls.

Speak to friends and other horsey people at equestrian events about their horsebox and ask them if they are happy with the make and build quality. If you are having a new lorry built from scratch, ask them what they would change about their lorry – there is always something and that is very useful feedback.

Test drive the intended lorry, chassis, or a similar lorry built by your preferred lorry builder or the horseboxes of others. The drive of different lorry makes differs a lot; some drive like large cars, while others drive much more like trucks.

Pay attention to the horse area first since this is the purpose for the horsebox! While we all like to show off our latest lorry gadget, ensure the comfort of your equine cargo first and foremost. This does not necessarily mean sophisticated air conditioning or equivalent, but ensure there is sufficient space (both in height and length) for your size of horse/horses. Good ventilation and daylight is a must for relaxed travelling and strong and safe partitions between each horse and the living area.

Shop around. The choice is vast and if buying for the first time I would recommend looking at a number of different lorries before making a decision. If buying new, look for a flexible and reputable company - search our database for a supplier in your area.

All the normal checks. Conduct your own checks of the ramp, floor, lights, weight, wheels, tyres, bodywork and the finish. We would also recommend seeking the assistance of a mechanic to conduct a more thorough check of the brakes and engine. Remember to check the vehicle's service history. A vehicle with a higher mileage with a good service history should not necessarily be ruled out over a lower mileage vehicle without a service history.

Test everything. Even on new builds, test everything; the ramp, the water, microwave, storage lockers and so on.

Expert advice is recommended. Ask a mechanic to give the horsebox a thorough check.

Budget. Having set your budget, shop around. There is vast choice in the new build and second hand market so you should be able to find something that ticks all your boxes. Remember to factor in running expenses, plus a contingency for a rainy day.

Payment. If you are putting down a deposit then make sure that you get something in writing stating what you have paid, what is left to pay and the day of collection.

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Last updated: 01/07/2010
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