Towcar of the Year features on the Caravan Club website give a good starting point if you know the all-up weight of your horse and trailer. A local riding instructor well known to the Gromit Clan has suggested more than once that horseboxes should only be towed using 4wd vehicles for stability (she uses a Defender to tow a double box).
For a single box, a smaller 4wd such as a diesel X-trail or Subaru Forester/Legacy might suit. I know Subarus are petrol only, but at 30mpg they still out-perform the diesel Freelander (28 mpg) so worth a second look.
4x4 doesn't have to mean gas guzzling. Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail both do about 40mpg (in diesel forms).
I'd certainly look for a car which weighs at least as much as the loaded horsebox, just for the stability.
A non 4x4 option might be something like a mondeo tdci estate? The Ghia estate has self-levelling which makes the journey a little easier. And doesn't have the rear subframe bushes which fail regularly on the saloons and hatches when they're used for towing. My mondeo estate weighs in at 1590kg.
I would advise going for a 4x4. It's rare that you see a horse trailer being towed by a normal car. Also, depending on where you take the horse to, you might benefit from the 4 wheel drive when it comes to getting off the field!!
Bro used to tow a fair sized boat behind his V70 D5 auto.
No idea of towed weight, but he used to get well in to the forties MGP wise and the car still had plenty of get and go when required.
The car made effortless mincemeat of the towing to be honest.
I've been to more equine events than I've had hot dinners. The reason you see so many Discos etc is that many of them are towing two horses, either because they've got >1 child, or it's mum + daughter. With a tow load of 2,000 kgs you really do need a Disco/equiv.
With one nag you'll be fine with a solid estate as tow vehicle. You will find the odd greasy/sticky gateway at some places, even in summer, but most are fine if you take it sensibly
Some useful info here if you know the weight of your trailer and horse.
Go to "kerbweights" in left hand column and you can look up the kerbweight of most cars, the max towing limit and the "85% recommended towing weight" eg Mondeo TDCi estate
2.0 TDi (115 ps) from 2002, kerbweight 1547kg, 85% towing weight 1314kg, max towing weight 1800kg
I have been told by a policeman that it is not legal to tow any size horsebox with a ANY car - so please forget a car and go back to something bigger. Look at a Kia or Hyundai - both cheap and seem to have good pulling power. You really don't want to be towing a moving and unpredictable load with anything which will not hold ground - especially if you are towing one horse in a two horse box - can be very lop sided if the horse moves around or panics. Bad enough in a box but awful with a trailer. Am I pleased my towing now is just boats!!
To quote from it referring to a single horsebox suitable for a horse of up to 830kg (approx) (Suitable for one horse up to approximately 16.2hh, or mare and foal)
"Even though smaller vehicles of Ford Escort size can tow this trailer legally, the handling of light cars can be upset by the horse moving around whilst travelling. It is recommended, therefore, that the minimum size of vehicle should be Ford Mondeo size or above. Smaller 4x4 vehicles such as the Land Rover Freelander would also be suitable. "
Phil, he was a police accident investigator who said he could not think of any car that could pull a horsebox as it is the drivers responsiblity to tow a trailer with a suitable vehicle. I was at that time considering moving a horse using my then Mondeo - he felt I should not. I opted at that time to use a horsebox rather than a trailer. I now have an X-trail, which I am sure you know can be 4x2, auto (ie 4x2 and go into 4x4 if needed) or 4x4 - I would tow a horse trailer but no longer need to.
I will remember if you are reading a thread to be very precise. I MEANT a Kia 4x4 or Hyundai Tucson rather than picanto - I thought that might be obvious? :~)
Phil, he was a police accident investigator who said he could
not think of any car that could pull a horsebox as
it is the drivers responsiblity to tow a trailer with a
suitable vehicle. I was at that time considering moving a
horse using my then Mondeo - he felt I should
Mondeos generally have high maximum tow weights - some of them 1800kg, so these could legally tow the smallest Ifor Williams horse trailer fully laden at 1600kg - not that I would fancy doing it myself.
The advice on the Ifor Wiliams site is incomplete, to put it politely. You can't go by the size of the car. Every car has a maximum towing weight which must not be exceeded. In addition the gross train weight must not be exceeded. For most cars the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of the car, plus the max tow weight will equal the gross train weight - the most notable exception to the is with some Renaults, where the gross vehicle weight plus the max tow weight adds up to more than the gross train weight - in other words, if you tow a trailer at the maximum towing weight, you will not be able to load the car fully as well!
For what it's worth, the Ifor Williams site talks about 'Escort sized cars' being able to tow its one-horse trailer legally - I think the maximum towing weight of an Escort 1.8 diesel is 900kg - so Ifor Williams are correct provided that you don't put a horse in it ! - if you were to carry an 830kg horse you would be illegal by no less than 700kg!
Whilst a Freelander would be ok, you would have to be careful with even a CRV, the max tow for which is 1500kg, so you still couldn't use the full MAM of the smallest IF horsebox.
If you passed your test on or after 1 Jan 1997 you will need to take another test as well if the combined MAM of the car and trailer exceed 3500kg, which it alsmost certainly will - see leaflet www.dvla.gov.uk/media/pdf/leaflets/inf30.pdf
My wife has used to this sort of lark for about 15 years. She had a Mark II Defender specifically for this purpose. If you have to tow any box with a horse in it onto a field, front wheel drive will mean you get stuck. You just will.
Also, a single horse trailer is not big enough as it leaves you no-where to store any of your kit, never mind a spare bale of hay. A single horse trailer is less stable than a double and has a poorer resale value as people generally don't want them. Double trailers are dear, but looked after they retain their value quite well AND are in demand.
For a double trialer you must have a 4X4. If you plan to tow it frequently, then a proper 4X4 is the only anser, i.e., Defender, Discovery, Shogun etc. If you only two occasionally then a cross-over car/4X4 will do. A TD5 Discovery will still get you 35mpg if not towing.
To sum up, I need a vehicle that will tow a trailer containing one horse, maybe going out a couple of times a week at the most. The rest of the time it will be clocking up a fair amount of mileage commuting etc (not towing), so I need something that is up to the weight, not too expensive and as economical as possible as regards fuel consumption!
Anything other than a Land Rover type vehicle for towing a laden horse box is shear madness with no thought for the safety of other road users let alone the horse if you cannot do it propely and safely don't do it at all.If you want a cheap 4x4 that is reasonable comfortable and extremely reliable there are plenty of Deawoo Korados kicking about.
Read up on the reviews in Car-by-car Breakdown (see top left hand side of this page) starting with the ones suggested so far here. You will then have a list to compare and go and look at as the information is very comprehensive. Good luck.
For goodness sake, this is one poxy nag to haul about in a one-horse box, once or twice a week. It is no different from hauling a caravan, and you dont seee them all being dragged around by 4x4's. Any car that will drag a 4berth shed behind will easily drag a one pony crate.
------------------------------ TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
This one's been done many times before but just a few points:-
Rolling a caravan is a bit of a nuisance; extracting two terrified and frantic horses from the distorted, inverted, wreckage of a horse trailer on a central reservation was a very different matter!
Unlike a caravan; a horse trailer is a commercial goods-carrying trailer and has an official maximum weight plate. The towing vehicle must be able to cover that weight in it's towing capacity.
Wise caravanners don't load all the weight at the very top; horses come built that way. Despite divisions and restraining bars, they can also shift that weight about at very unwanted times - you can't use ratchet straps on a horse.
Ifor Williams is a nice, unassuming, guy - but he's in the business of selling his excellent trailers; not discouraging people from buying them.
If you're going to tow anything - get some proper training first. It's not something to learn from your mistakes!
So; yes. A horse trailer needs a solid 4x4 - no exceptions. Or, far better, get one of Ifor's horsebox containers fitted to a nice chassis-cab.
My advice would be a) look at getting a dedicated tow vehicle such as a SWB Land Rover - £4k gets you quite a decent vehicle which is easily maintained; b) look at putting £7k (4k for the LR and 3k for the trailer) into a 3.5T van horsebox conversion. horsequest.co.uk has plenty for sale. The VW 35LT diesel with an Ifor Williams body is a good unit, and you'll get one for that money or less. They hold their price, and are not expensive to insure (about £300 pa).
That's exactly what my daughter did for her last show. Now she wants to go to one a bit further away, and I am in precisely the OP's dilema. Plenty of people we know pull horse boxes with old Volvos without any problems, so I am tempted to agree with TVM.
I have over the years towed a rather overloaded trailer filled with furniture, household goods, and on several occasions a ton of manure, so I wouldn't be that worried about the car's physical ability. 80% of 1.5 tonnes gives a bit off leeway I'd have thought, unless it's a shire horse of course.
Forget all these silly equations the towing weight is what the munafacturers say no more no less.The first time you get stuck people will help you the second time is a different matter I always work on the premise if I cannot afford to do it properly don't do it.
Oh dear, this thread has gone on and on and appears to be back where we started
You didn't mention your budget, which will probably be quite fundamental to the debate.
So any nearer to a conclusion KP?
but you can afford a horse, all the the associated paraphenalia, insurance, vet´s fees, lessons, stabling, and a trailer.
Sorry KP, no offence meant, but it seems a wee bit contradictory - unless it´s about to win a huge amount of p2ps heavily backed by you...?
barchettaman - Perhaps you have first hand knowledge and so I may be wrong but,
It is surprising how many people assume that it takes lots of money to keep a horse - it doesn't have to. Most people who have horses up and down the country are not wealthy landowners. I know people who spend more on their dogs than we do on our horse and pony (both out to graze). Competing does cost a fair bit more though...
I think barking mad was making the point that the cost of owning and running a horse, should include the correct method of transport. Sure a horse left idle in a field just eating grass costs peanuts. But then why have it there?
its all part of the TCO - total cost of ownership.
And I still say an averagely good caravan tow car will be good for a single-horse box,
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
but you can afford a horse, all the the associated paraphenalia,
insurance, vet´s fees, lessons, stabling, and a trailer.
Sorry KP, no offence meant, but it seems a wee bit
contradictory - unless it´s about to win a huge amount of
p2ps heavily backed by you...?
the whole point of asking this question is to find the best solution for myself and my horse, legally, financially, and for safety to us and other road users. I want to exchange my present vehicle, not to purchase an extra one!
is a really useful site - not perfect but it's hard to assemble all the max tow weights, and kerbweights if you want to stay with a particular ratio (there is no leagl requirement on this as long as you are at or under the max towing weight and the gross train weight).
If you click on 'Outfit Match' you can put in the weight of your caravan (read horsebox), and various options for the car, , including price ranges, and it will present you with a list of cars that match your requirements, assuming you wnat to be legal.
Given what you have said, I would try the 1600kg gross weight of the Ifor Williams small box and see what comes out.
A car even a heavy estate is not suitable for towing a horse box, twice weekly use is frequent by my book. A two wheel drive car simply will not cope with a wet incline, a 4x4 car will pull itself up but not a laden horse box, the wheels simply will not grip. Dont count on there being someone to pull you if you get stuck and try steering a car on greasy mud.
Buy a reliable medium car for your comute ie a focus/ mondeo Good one for £4000 and by a cheap landrover defender/ isuzu trooper/ shougun/ jeep etc to tow the box £4000- £5000. Your insurance wont be that high especialy if you use a firm like NFU mutual, they will also insure your trailer.
I have on numerouse ocasions wasted hours trying to coax and ocasionly even push horses into single boxes, most horses hate the things. Get a second hand double box or you will certainly regret it down the line!
Surely you could *theoretically* exchange your present vehicle for two other ones, as previously suggested.
My horsebox experience extends to a girlfriend who was very into the things about 15 years ago. All three daughters rode (ahem) so the family had a knackered old (Bedford?) horsebox. Huge horrid thing, but practical. Funnily enough I rather went off the young lady when I saw her feeding her mount Polos mouth to mouth.
Whatever you decide to do, here´s hoping it´s safe, cost-effective and fun.
PS can´t call me ´Barking mad´ now RF, I´ve sold it :-(