You and your horse and are having plenty of fun together, so now you need to purchase a trailer to take him to competitions, riding club rallies and sponsored rides. But what do you buy and where do you look?
If you have a healthy budget, the starting price of a new two-horse trailer will be in the region of £4,000. Your shiny new transporter will come with a 12-month warranty and if you have bought one made by a reputable manufacturer, you can be assured that it has been built to rigorous safety standards.
But when we cannot afford the luxury of buying new, second-hand is the only option. If you know where to look and employ common sense you will be able to bag yourself a fantastic bargain.
However, we have all read horror stories about horses falling through rotten floors of trailers or a ramp malfunctioning and injuring a user. So how do you minimise the risks to ensure that what you hook up to your 4×4 is totally safe?
Firstly you can buy from a renowned dealer. Any reputable company is likely to have been reviewed online, so see what other customers say about its service. You will also be covered by the Consumer Rights Act (formerly the Sales of Goods Act 1979), which will enable you to return the trailer if a fault was missed at the time of purchase and if you believe that the trailer was not fit for purpose.
The downside of buying through a dealer is that prices are likely to be higher than those being asked by a private seller. So, if you do buy privately, you will keep your bank manager happy, but you will have no protection should things go wrong. Therefore take an expert with you when you go to view. You should be inspecting:
• The chassis, to check for signs of rust or damage
• The body of the trailer, such as the roof for any holes, the doors to check the hinges and fastenings, or signs of repainting which may mask a problem
• The floor for structural weakness by lifting any mats
• The ramps for any kind of rot or structural weakness
• The condition, pressure and tread on the tyres, including spares, plus the brakes
• The electrics. When hitched to a vehicle are all the lights on the trailer working?
Ask the seller to connect the trailer to a vehicle so that you can inspect the jockey wheel and then take the trailer for a test drive. Never buy before you try.
While the majority of trailer sales are legitimate, there is always a risk of buying a stolen one. If this happens, even though you are the innocent party, you will be obliged to return it to the legal owner, potentially losing thousands of pounds in the process. Always ask to see proof of ownership documents and check the registration plate. If this is missing don’t buy the trailer.
A couple of final points to bear in mind — will your horse fit in your new trailer? There is no point buying one designed for a 16.2hh if you have an imposing 17.3hh at home. And did you pass your driving test after 1 January 1997? If so, you will need to take an additional test before you can tow your new trailer (if it and the towing vehicle exceed 3,500kg).