3.5 Tonne Horseboxes- What You Need To Know.


3.5 Tonne Horseboxes are great and since 1997 when the laws around driver licensing changed, there has been an increase in the number and variety of horseboxes available. This has opened up transporting horses to far more people who for whatever reason couldn’t have a bigger horse box.

There are lots of benefits to having a 3.5 Tonne horse box. They are smaller and cheaper to run than their larger counterparts, making storage easier and running costs lower. As mentioned before the biggest factor for most people is that they can be driven on a standard car licence. So no need to take a class 1 test to get your HGV licence. This make these horse boxes very appealing to lots of people.

Although they have lots of benefits there are a few things to watch out for:


The definition of payload is “The total weight of passengers, crew, equipment and cargo carried by a vehicle”

Payload is the biggest issue because Horses are generally heavy cargo and can easily exceed the payload on your vehicle.

Payloads can vary in 3.5 Tonne horseboxes- but are generally between 750-1100 kilos.

So… average 16.2 Horse weighs approximately 680 kilos, two passengers at 80 kilos each, 25 kilos of tack would give you a total weight of 865 kilos. If your horse box has a payload at the lower end of 750 kilos then you could be overweight. Payload is the legal limit, regardless of whether there is space inside the horsebox to carry multiple horses.

The penalties for being overweight are severe- points on your licence and a heavy fine. But the most difficult bit to manage is that you will not be allowed to continue your journey overweight: you must reduce the weight. This often means arranging for someone to come out and collect your horse/horses.

Anything you put in the vehicle contributes to the payload “limit”- For example if you have a living put in the horsebox, that will reduce the amount of weight you have available to carry the horses. So this is worth thinking about before you start any changes or upgrades to your horse box.

Payload is by far the most difficult aspect of 3.5 Tonne horseboxes but there are a few other bits you should watch out for when purchasing your horsebox.

  • Check the service history, particularly timing belts which are usually due every 50,000 miles or 5 years, as these can fail causing severe damage to the engine.

  • Check the ramps carefully as these are also prone to failure.

  • Really consider the build quality of the vehicle. Coach built vehicles are generally better than conversions as these can have issues with strength in the original body. The rule of thumb is if it’s cheap there is generally a reason why it’s cheap.

  • Check the sills (the lower edge of the vehicle body in between the wheels) and steps for corrosion.

  • You may need to have a grill installed to prevent horses clearing the breast bar.

If you are still unsure about anything that relates to 3.5 Tonne Horseboxes, we are always at the end of the phone and happy to help you.