Blue Cross launches Safe Trailer campaign
leading animal welfare charity is highlighting the dangers facing
horses in the UK every day through poorly maintained and dangerous
trailers. The Blue Cross is launching a Safe Trailer campaign aimed
at reducing unnecessary injury, suffering and even death of horses
during routine trailer transport. This comes as one of the UK's
leading equine vets estimates that up to three horses every day
are treated as a result of transport related injuries. Many horse
owners are simply unaware of the vital importance of regular trailer
maintenance that can result in horrendous injuries to horses, sometimes
in the middle of journeys. The collapse of poorly maintained trailer
floors is one of the most common problems.
campaign, which will be launched at the Blenheim Horse Trials on
5-6 September, urges owners to undertake simple checks before transporting
horses by trailer. The Blue Cross is offering free practical advice
and guidance on trailer safety and maintenance in the form of an
easy-reference leaflet produced in conjunction with respected towing
expert John Henderson. In addition the charity is liaising with
key trailer manufacturers, dealers and towing authorities to ensure
that everything possible is done to provide for safe trailer travel
Webb-Bowen, Director of Equine Welfare at the Blue Cross says: Fatal
injuries to horses caused through unsafe trailer transport are more
common than you think. Unlike other countries in Europe, the UK
has no trailer MOT test, so making sure your own trailer is safe
and legal is entirely your responsibility. Yet many horse owners
remain unaware of how to keep their trailer in safe working order.
This leaflet will play a vital role in making horse owners aware
of what is necessary.
ground pressure exerted by a 550kg horse through its shoes is 3.05kg
per square centimetre, which is exactly the same as that of a fully
laden military Land Rover Defender weighing six times more. The
big difference is that the Land Rover is supported by all four wheels
as it moves, but the horse walking into a trailer always has one
foot off the ground, creating even more, ever changing, stress on
it is not just weakened floors which endanger horses. Many horse
owners give no thought to the maintenance of the trailer's brakes,
wheel bearings, hitch or lights, which can result in accidents that
will endanger the horse, towcar occupants and other road users.
Bathe MA VetMB CertES(Orth) DipECVS MRCVS RCVS & European Specialist
in Equine Surgery, University Equine Surgeon at The Queen's Veterinary
School Hospital, University of Cambridge said "I see at least
two serious horse injuries per year caused by travelling. I would
expect this figure to be similar for a lot of equine vets around
the country, which would roughly equate to a national figure of
about 1000 injuries resulting from travel every year."
Natalie Waran BSc PhD, animal behaviour and welfare expert at the
Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh University
who has carried out research on transport stress in horses said:
The consequences of transporting your horse in an unsafe trailer
should be of serious concern to owners. At the very least your horse
will be exposed to an extremely frightening and stressful experience
and at the worst he could be seriously injured and even die.
maintained and designed trailers can be the cause of stress due
to the problems the horse has to cope with during the journey. Injuries
are likely due to floors or ramps giving way, and an out-of- control
trailer is not only a risk for the horse inside but also to anyone
that happens to get in its way.
details of the Safe Trailer campaign visit the Blue Cross website
Blue Cross is Britain's pet charity, providing information, advice
and practical support for pet and horse owners. Through its network
of animal adoption centres it rehomes thousands of animals each
year. Its hospitals provide veterinary care for the pets of people
who cannot afford private vets' fees.