When a horse tries to jump over the breast bar partition into the Groom’s area it is quite frankly bl**dy terrifying and not an experience I (or Mummy Groom) ever wish to go through again! If you missed the drama first time around click here to read up on Bolly’s lorry leaping escapades!!
To prevent the little bouncing beast from attempting this ever again we took our lorry to local coach-builders Trevett & Smith near Salisbury for some modifications. Dustry loves the lorry and has never even hinted at thinking about jumping over the breast-bar into the open Groom’s area behind so the changes won’t really benefit him but if we ever do look to sell on the lorry I think it will make it more attractive. The more riders, owners, vets and coach-builders we have spoken to about this the more the issue of open build 3.5T backwards facing lorries and horses leaping the partition seems to be a worryingly regular occurrence.
Our lorry does not have an extra wide back Groom’s door (it was built prior to this EU requirement) and so if a horse did manage to jump into the groom’s area the only option to get it out would be to call the fire brigade to cut it out!!! You can see now why one occasion was enough to make us book it in for remodelling asap.
Thankfully our lorry has air suspension and can be upgraded to carry more than 3.5T so the extra weight that these mods will add to it, and remove from the payload won’t be an issue, given the option to upgrade.
There are quite a few retro fitted anti-jump modifications available from a range of coach builders all varying in price and fitting time. These are the options I found whilst looking for a solution for our box.
Options to add anti-jump modifications to your backwards facing 3.5T horse lorry
1/ Anti weave grills added to the breast-bar
These were the cheapest option I could find, but given the fact that a rearing panicked horse is a pretty irrational creature we didn’t feel that these would offer the greatest deterrent. The thought of a horse attempting to get through an even smaller gap also troubled us. You can get these in grill and solid options, but they are tricky to secure to the sides and ceiling of the box and as such potentially wouldn’t be particularly robust with a horse leaping on them.
2/ Anti-jump bars
As you can see this option is a little more advanced with a sloping shelf and a full width anti-jump bar ladder across the back of the box. Our concern with this is that it doesn’t eliminate the issue of the horse being able to see out and so thinking it can get out. I also get minor heebie jeebies thinking about hooves getting stuck between the bars! Probably a totally irrational fear but none the less as a result we opted not to go for this either.
3/ No breast-bar, free standing, nothing to jump over or into
This is a popular option for commercial haulage horse lorries as it eliminates the possibility of any rear/jump related incidents because it is essentially like travelling a horse in a box. Now although this design has eliminated any possibility of the horse getting into trouble by rearing up or getting cast over a breast-bar I couldn’t help thinking that it was a little dangerous not to have anything for them to lean on/brace against whilst travelling. I would be concerned that in the event that you had to break sharply a tired horse may not adjust in time and result in bashing its head on the wall in front of it or worse. We couldn’t do this modification to our lorry anyway due to existing external tack lockers.
4/ Solid shelf and full height anti-jump wall
This is probably the most cost effective version of this full height deterrent. If you horse does clamber up onto the shelf then it can easily slide back down and the blocked out back view should be enough to prevent it even having the thought that it can leap out the back. This does mean that you can’t access the horse other than by taking down the main ramp. For some people this might not be a concern, but our lorry has a jockey door in the breast-bar/bulk head wall and as such we didn’t like the idea of opening this door and climbing through into the horse area.
5/ 4ft breast-bar, shelf, solid full height wall, and full height access door.
So finally this is what we opted for. It’s a bit of a hybrid of a few designs because our lorry has a 4ft high breast bar (which makes shelving a little tricky to get the angle) and it also has windows that are placed in an awkward location (just where a wall needs to go!).
New lorry modifications
Modifications made were:
- 3inch angled shelf to prevent horses clambering up but also give them enough room to hang their heads over and eat hay.
- Full height wall intersecting the back side windows preventing horse from looking out the back door but also allowing light into the horse area and groom’s area.
- Full height door so that you can safely access horses from the groom’s area, tie up haynets etc.
- Custom made flap to fill out the shelf when in place and allow access via the breastbar jockey door when removed.
Having the groom’s area now completely separate from the horses has actually made the lorry much more usable. Previously the horses’ haynets hung over the back and they would munch away as we drove and cover everything in the back in hay. With the new partition we can store and securely lock away tack etc in the Groom’s area and it will stay safe and clean!
Our old saddle racks which saddles kept slipping off of have also been replaced with some better ones making the groom’s area much more tidy and useful.
UPDATE: I’m pleased to report Bolly’s maiden voyage in the new and improved ‘horse-mobile’ was perfect. He snorted at the shelf on first loading then stood like a lamb to travel there and back…….phew!! *sighs of relief all-round*