In 2011 after researching a proprietary horsebox manufacturer, including a test drive and two bespoke horsebox conversion companies, we decided to appoint Kevin Parker Horseboxes (KPH) to build our first horsebox.
The basis of this decision was the good reputation that KPH horseboxes had established, which was determined by research through the internet, followed by a lengthy visit to the KPH workshop where we met Kevin Parker and Russell Blamire. This was a 7.5 tonne built on a second-hand DAF LF chassis. This box was built for 3 horses and had a small living. As the number of horses we owned grew, it was decided that we wanted a higher carrying capacity plus the ability to carry 4 horses.
In 2014 KPH was commissioned to build a 12T horsebox, built on a DAF LF chassis. This was the first Euro 5 chassis off the assembly line. The purchase of our largest horse, an 18.3 showjumper called Enrico Blue VDL, gave us an additional problem in that he did not like travelling in the 12-tonne horsebox, so in 2016 KPH were commissioned to build a 4.5 tonne horse box built on a Peugeot Boxer chassis with an extended horse area to ensure Blue travelled in comfort.
As of late 2020 we have had 3 horseboxes built by KPH and still have the Peugeot 4.5 tonne horsebox, but we sold the 12 tonne and bought a 26 tonne DAF CF 340 and we take this opportunity to set out the process involved from conception through to completion and collection.
HGV Helios Horsebox (26 tonne DAF CF340)
It was in early 2019 that we initiated discussions with KPH regarding upgrading our 12-tonne horsebox to an HGV model which would give us increased living accommodation and storage which we could use during longer stays at competitions. The first order of business was to establish our specific requirements in terms of number of horses, living and bathroom requirements and from this the available chassis and overall vehicle length could be determined. There was an initial concern regarding the turning circle of the larger vehicle and with input from DAF, comparing the turning circles of our existing 12-tonne and the new HGV, it was decided to incorporate a rear steering axle.
Thus, we had determined that we would order a DAF CF340 FAN 6×2 with rear steering axle. This was an important step for us to ensure that the chassis could provide us with a suitable base for our requirements, would be manoeuvrable through the narrow roads and town neighbouring our yard and also fit within our existing vehicle shed. Being our fourth horsebox, much like KPH who would continually develop its design, we have also learned where designs and requirements could be improved and it took some 4 months of discussions and meetings with KPH and DAF to arrive at what we considered to be the ideal chassis. These discussions included type of chassis, manoeuvrability and turning circle, size of living and toilet, size of horse area and availability of clean and dirty storage which would not affect the horse area. It should be noted that cost was always a consideration as was reduced maintenance, durability and long-term use.
By this time, the majority of the internal fitting out had been agreed, except for colours and materials. An order was placed in May, 2019 with the chassis arriving on the 18th July, 2019 and the build commencing shortly thereafter.
During the period when the chassis was being manufactured, final specifications and requirements were being discussed in detail with KPH. Our requirements included, not in any specific order:
- Large external storage for clean and dirty use
- Large tack storage for 6 saddles with swing out saddle racks
- Change of tack locker handles
- In-built generator
- Winterised potable water tank and grey water tank
- Upgraded external panel specification
- External sink with hot and cold water
- Surround camera system with recording
- Reversing camera and two horse area cameras
- Ventilation system for horse area controlled from driver’s cab
- External lighting both sides for night operation
- Lashing rings for tie down on ferries
- Paint protection pad clips
- Raised floor with underfloor storage
- Double slide out in living area
- Dog bed under the wardrobe
- Combined air conditioning and heating unit inside the living area
- Smooth coat-X on horse area walls
The above were our specific requirements and the following were included within the HGV Helios Horsebox standard specification, some of which attracted additional costs:
- U-shape settee with adjustable table
- 40-inch TV, self-searching satellite, Wi-Fi
- Upgraded heating system with heated towel rail in bathroom
- Dry bathroom with domestic size shower, ceramic toilet
- Microwave and instant hot water in the kitchen
- Window blinds in lieu of curtains
- Numerous 13A sockets with USB charging points
- Upgraded leisure batteries
- Stainless steel protection bars with inbuilt lights
- Revised partitions and replacement for sword cotter pins
On commencement of the build KPH kept us updated with a series of phone calls, emails, site visits and very frequent photographs documenting the build of the horsebox. In addition to clarifying our requirements and tying down specific requirements and specifications, the colour palette was discussed with samples being sent to us for selection.
The build was affected by Covi-19 and the requirement for some police authority horseboxes to jump the queue. This didn’t concern us greatly as it was important for us the horsebox wasn’t rushed. Whilst the horsebox took longer to build than expected, the end result is fantastic, and the horsebox was collected on the 23rd October, 2020.
Apart from driving the horsebox from Preston to Scotland and using it to ferry horses about, because of lockdown, the horsebox has not been used in earnest. Current experience shows that it is an extremely comfortable and quiet horsebox to drive and is very manoeuvrable. Our concerns of driving around our local area have proven to be unfounded.
Our largest horse, Enrico Blue VDL has walked quite calmly into the box and seems to have plenty of room thanks to the headroom and no tack lockers in the horse area. The new partitions and pins are looking to make moving around the horse area much easier. The hydraulic ramp is a great bonus. We look forward to using the horsebox in earnest.
To be continued………………………….
Old Glasgow Road, Stewarton, KA3 5JR