Q. Horse Vans are quite a new concept to New Zealand. Can you tell us a bit about their background?
A. They first appeared in Europe in the early 1990's so have been in use for nearly 20 years. Our manufacturer was the first to produce them in England so is very experienced. The materials and design elements have changed and improved over the years. In fact from July 2010 we have introduced another new lighter weight (but stronger) material into our vans which means we can now get up to a 1,700kg payload.

Q. What makes a Horse Van different to a horse float or a horse truck?
A. The major differences to towing a float is that the overall vehicle length is much shorter (approximately 4m shorter) meaning it is so much easier to manoeuver, do tight circles, park and of course reverse (plus our Horse Vans all come with reversing cameras).
Horse Vans are definitely more stable and safe on the road too, there is no need if traveling one horse to put them on the drivers side in fact you may be able to hear them (& see them on the monitor in the cab) but you won't notice horses moving on-board at all.
The other main difference with a Horse Float is that the horses travel rear facing, see question 5. below for more information. The major difference to a horse truck is again ease of maneuverability plus the fact that no HT license is required so anyone can jump in and drive. Maintenance costs are greatly reduced, if you have a large truck and are only moving around 1 or 2 horses you could save around $6,000 per year in compliance and maintenance by changing to a Horse Van. Plus with clever living area ideas you don't have to lose out on all the features.
Also, a lot of Horse Trucks out there are much older whereas a Horse Van will have modern technology and features such as steering wheel finger tip controls for the CD player and radio, air bags and alarm/immobilizer with the push of a button on the key.

Q. Do Horse Vans cater for different sized horses and ponies?
Yes, we have 3 models Small, Medium and Large, with the main difference in size being in height. Our smallest/shortest Horse Van is about the same internal height as most floats. Our largest/tallest Horse Van can take the biggest Hunter. All Horse Vans provide more width and length then most floats. We are also experienced in altering the horse area to travel 3 x ponies or 4 x mini's. The central portion has three positions to alter the width of the stalls as well having a storage position against the back wall to provide a large box for example for mares and foals. All the features are customizable for example chest partition height so we can cater to an individual's requirements.

Q. If I was looking to stay overnight at some competitions, can I do that with a Horse Van?
Yes, our standard Large Horse Van comes with a single bed, however you can extend the van by another 18 inches to make a double bed. The other common thing done is to move the horse area partition over to the storage position and use a blow up bed in that area &/or add another single bed in the luton area over the cab. There is also room for a bench and sink system, a shower in the horse area, a porta potty, power for appliances such as a kettle & cold box, portable cooker, seating and table and wardrobe/tack locker.

Q. Horses travel backwards in Horse Vans. Is there a reason behind this setup?
Yes, the hardest maneuver for horses to deal with well being transported is braking. When they face rearwards and experience braking they can lean back into their haunches much easier than being thrown forward if they were front facing. When driving a Horse Van it is virtually impossible to accelerate in a jerking manner as Horse Vans provide a smooth increase in speed so the horse doesn't have to deal with the feeling of being thrown forward at all. The other issue for horses is cornering, horses can lean/sway more through their shoulders then through their hips. The part of the body that is closest to the rear of the vehicle undergoes the most sideways forces while cornering. When the horse is rear facing this means their shoulders are closest to the rear of the vehicle and hence they find it easier to lean into corners. There are many studies showing rear facing travel is preferred by horses and even evidence to show that performance is enhanced on arrival at destination when compared to horses traveled forward facing. One of the studies from the University of Edinburgh is on my website www.horsevans.co.nz. I often also get asked about angle facing vs rear facing and the studies I have read show that angle facing is an improvement on forward facing but still not as stress free as rear facing.

Q: What is between the driver and horses to protect you from kicks and how strong is it?
A. There is a steel bulkhead reinforced with two steel box sections. This then carries the 15mm glass fiber reinforced plastic plywood and the rubber barrier. There have been over one thousand Horse Van builds and have never had a horse kicking it through it. Of all the horses I have seen loaded onto a Horse Van, my TB mare was actually the hardest when I first tried her, she came to me as a bad loader and traveler and when she was first put on board kicked the hell out of the wall for a while. There is not a mark to be seen on the wall so I personally vouch for its strength. I'm pleased to say she has traveled easily since that first loading.

Horse Vans - YouTube

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #