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The term horsebox could refer to either a motorised vehicle adapted to carry horses (more generally known as a horse van in North America or Australasia), or a trailer (known as a horse float in Australasia).

Horsebox built by Ketterer Horse Trucks (Germany) on a Mercedes Benz chassis

Horseboxes (motorised) can vary in size, depending on the number and size of horses to be carried. In Europe, horseboxes are developed from vehicles ranging from 3.5 tonne gross vehicle weight, through to legal maximums of over 40 tonnes.[1]

A 3.5 tonne horsebox pulling a horse trailer in Sweden

Some horseboxes are designed to contain (human) living accommodation, as competitions may involve staying at a venue for one or more nights.[2]

A large DAF horsebox towing a trailer for carriages. Taken at the Royal Windsor Horse Show 2011.

Layout and features[edit]

Ramps and access[edit]

In Europe, most motorised horseboxes will feature a single main ramp on the rear or to the side, though those with rear ramps may have a second smaller side ramp.[3]

Within the European Union, regulations dictate that a horsebox ramp (used for commercial transportation of horses) should be no steeper than 20°.[4]

A very small number of designs of horsebox have been produced that do not feature ramps, either by having a low height floor or a demountable structure.[5]

It is also a requirement that the driver or other attendant be able to access the horse area without using the ramp. This is often achieved through fitting a small hatch or doorway (called a groom's door in the UK).[6]

Horse stall dimensions and orientation[edit]

Horses can be transported facing the direction of travel (forward facing), facing the opposite way of travel (rear facing) or on the diagonal (herringbone).

Some horseboxes have stalls which are sideways facing; the horse travels at right angles to the direction of travel, however this is not regarded as safe or comfortable for the horse, as he will struggle to support his weight during sudden braking or acceleration.[7]

Some scientific research has been done to establish which position the horse is most comfortable in. The bulk of research suggests that horse have reduced stress and fatigue when travelling backwards. Travelling forwards also has reduced stress compared with travelling sideways [8]

It is also said that horses need sufficient room to take one step in either direction, so as to better support their weight when the vehicle is in motion.

Sufficient headroom for horses must be provided, at least 75 cm above the height of withers.[9]


  1. ^ "Transport's Friend". Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Preece, Rob (1 August 2012). "A palace on wheels: Inside Zara Phillips's £500,000 horse box complete with double bed and granite-top kitchen that's fit for a princess". Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Horseboxes". Empire Coachbuilders. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Welfare of Animals During Transport. DEFRA. 
  5. ^ White, Charlotte (22 October 2011). "Rampless horsebox launched to equestrian market". Horse and Hound. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Welfare of Animals During Transport. DEFRA. 
  7. ^ "World Horse Welfare Transport Dossier". World Horse Welfare. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Padalino, B; Maggiolino A.; Boccaccio M.; Tateo A. (2012). "Effects of different positions during transport on physiological and behavioral changes of horses". Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 7 (3): 135–141. doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2011.09.003. 
  9. ^ Whiting, T L; Sauder, R A (2000). "Headroom requirements for horses in transit". Can Vet J. 41 (2): 132–133.