Winter parking your horse box

Horseboxes and trailers parked up in the Winter


It’s that time of year again when many horse boxes and trailers get parked out of the way and left in a safe place for the winter – whilst no-one needs them. Much trouble is taken to make sure that the doors are locked, windows protected and anti-burglary devices are fitting correctly and that’s it, job done. Attentions are turned to keeping the horses warm, fed and worked just enough to make sure they are not too unfit when spring comes again.

So, fast-forward to longer days, warmer weather and the excitement of the new season ahead. The horses are schooled a little harder and are clad in thinner rugs. They are clipped, brushed and groomed. The tack is inspected and the smell of saddle soap is everywhere. A new pair of boots or a riding hat perhaps; and this season’s jodhpurs are right up there on the list.

At last, it’s time to fetch the horsebox or trailer. You haven’t seen it for months you’ve been so busy getting everything ready but the excitement is real as you hold the keys in your hands, ready to unlock the anti-theft devices and doors……and then, the crushing truth is revealed.

The locks have rusted and seized, the brakes are almost welded solid, the tyres have deflated and crazed and the tyre valves are completely useless. The batteries are in such bad condition that any mechanic would recommend new ones and even the rubber seal around the windscreen has begun to crack. All this, and you haven’t even noticed the state of the paintwork which is now dull and peeling, covered in bird droppings and beginning to play host to moss and lichen growth – but hey, at least the air quality is good!

It was all so shiny just a short time ago, and it was well loved when it was put away, it really was. How can all this happen so quickly????

Well OK, I’m not really suggesting that your much loved horse transportation system which was nearly new just 16 weeks ago will actually be nothing but a small pile of rust over one winter, but you get the point. It’s worth looking after the Lorries and Trailers.

Now the sad fact is that few of us can have a temperature controlled garage with mechanic, body specialist and someone from Goodyear to look after the tryes, so what are the top tips for looking after your vehicles on a budget?

Winter parking your horse vehicle

  1. It’s really ideal if you can actually take it for a spin once or twice a month. It doesn’t need to be far, just enough to get everything warm and working properly and try to take advantage of dry days!
  2. If you can’t do that – perhaps you are declaring it off the road to save on tax or have reduced your insurance to fire and theft for instance – then try some of the following:
  • Clean the vehicle, paying special attention to getting rid of mud under the wheel arches. Do let the vehicle dry before putting it away
  • Leave the handbrake off – but remember to chock the wheels properly
  • Investigate the use of a “smart charger” for the battery (they keep the batteries in good order and can be left attached to the battery without fear of over-charging)
  • Lift the windscreen wipers so they are not touching the glass – or remove the bit with the rubber on it
  • Check that anti-freeze levels in the radiator system are suitable
  • Lubricate locks with a suitable lock oil
  • Consider raising the trailer or smaller vehicle onto blocks, even removing the wheels if you can and storing them in a dark, cool and dry place
  • Spraying WD40 under the bonnet and around the battery box is a good idea
  • Slackening auxiliary drive belts such as the alternator, power steering, air conditioning, etc. is a good idea if you know how. Don’t slacken the camshaft drive belt though
  • If you think it might get damp inside, do whatever you can to protect any carpets
  • Leave a list of what you’ve done in the vehicle so you don’t forget when you come back!

Fuel – maybe not what you think…

  • According to the AA, it can actually be best to leave the fuel tank FULL. This way, there is less room for water to seep in and contaminate any remaining fuel and it leaves no room for condensation to occur. Any water in the fuel is BAD…..

There are other things that can be done too, perhaps even some specific actions for your type of vehicle – so if the mood takes you, do a little more research!

What to do when you come back in the Spring

There will come a time when you need to use the vehicle again, so there are some things to think about before you do:

  1. Look at the list of what you did when you put it away last Autumn!
  2. Check tryes for tread, crazing and pressure (and put the wheels back on if you took them off)
    – make sure you use the correct torque on the wheel nuts
  3. If you didn’t leave the fuel tank full, make sure the fuel that’s in it isn’t stale or contaminated
  4. Check all fluid levels – oil, water, brakes and windscreen washer
  5. Check the brakes and make sure they operate properly
  6. Tighten any drive belts that were slackened off
  7. Clean the vehicle again
  8. At Equine Rescue Services we absolutely recommend that you have the vehicle serviced too – it’s got a long season ahead and even though we are with you all the way, we know that you’d rather not break–down if you don’t have to!!!