Horse transport in the UK is probably more complicated than it needs to be from a licencing perspective. However, it is what it is. We want to make it as easy as possible to understand what your requirements are if you regularly transport horses. In this easy guide to horse transport, we will discuss licencing, training and some of the practical aspects of towing horsebox trailers. If you have any further questions after reading this guide, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The place to begin is to discuss the difference between horsebox trailers and HGV horseboxes. The horsebox trailer is simply a large utility trailer with a roof on top and a built-in stall in the interior. In the eyes of the DVLA, if it is no different in practical terms than your standard utility trailer used for hauling equipment or furniture. The HGV horsebox is entirely different.
The HGV horsebox is a self-contained unit with both the engine and horse transport areas built on the same chassis. For purposes of clarification, consider it similar to a box lorry that has been modified to transport horses rather than static cargo. This difference dictates that most HGV horsebox operators need a special licence to account for the size and weight of their vehicles.
As a horse owner, the kind of vehicle you use for horse transport is entirely up to you. Most recreational horse owners are content with a horsebox trailer towed by an SUV or pickup truck.
The most confusing thing for horse owners to understand are the licencing requirements. Unfortunately, we do not make things easy here in the UK. There are two different licences pertaining to horse transport activities: the operator’s licence and the driving licence.
The operator’s licence is similar to the kind of licence a logistics company would need to legally operate commercial vehicles on the road.
Horse owners DO NOT need an operator's licence if they transport horses
under the following conditions:
Simply put, the government has created a distinction between recreational and commercial transport of horses. If what you do qualifies as a commercial enterprise, you will need both an operator's licence and appropriate CPC certification. And operator’s licence is not required for hobbyists. As for the driving licence, it is dependent entirely on vehicle weight and class.
The current standards taken directly from the GOV.UK website are as follows:
For use if driving any goods vehicle that is above 3.5t and below 7.5t in weight. If you gained your driving licence before 1997, you will automatically have this category on your licence. If you gained your driving licence after 1997, you will have to take a test. Note – if you gain your Cat 'C' you automatically get given your Cat 'C1', so it is advisable to take a full Cat 'C' course and get both categories for the price of one.
This licence allows you to tow a trailer with a maximum authorised mass greater than 750 kg and a combined trailer/tow vehicle weight in excess of 3.5 tonnes. The combined weight cannot exceed 7.5 tonnes under this licence category. Your average horsebox trailer qualifies.
There are four different Category C licences that apply to heavier vehicles. They are normally not needed when towing a horsebox trailer with a typical passenger vehicle. However, a Category C or C1 will probably be necessary for operating an HGV horsebox. Like Category B licences, the exact licence needed to operate an HGV horsebox will depend on vehicle weight.
It should be obvious that the average horse owner will need at least a Category B+E to tow a horsebox trailer. We provide the training necessary to pass the B+E test. Continue reading to learn more about our training programme.
“Alicia Scott has dealt with my application from the start And she's has been brill, all theory side of things ..."
Towing any kind of trailer behind a passenger vehicle is not as easy as it might appear. This is one of the primary reasons for requiring a special licence for such activities. Regulators know that without proper training and licencing, drivers may not be fully prepared for what it takes to tow a trailer safely.
Our horsebox trailer training covers three elements:
Upon completion of our training, students are ready to book and take their practical skills exams. While we do not conduct those exams ourselves, we do send a trainer with each student to the examination location on the day of the test. This enables the student to ask any remaining questions or receive further guidance from the instructor.
To help you learn more about transporting horses on UK roads we have listed below a
number of our other articles related to driving and towing equestrian vehicles:
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