Royal Visit to Equine Rescue Services

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Prince Charles Visits Equine Rescue Services Head Office in Poundbury

Just look who popped into our head office recently for a chat and Q&A with our Managing Director.

As a horseman and horsebox owner himself, Prince Charles was enthralled to know how our vehicle and equine rescue service works – and unbelievably, we actually had a live rescue going on whilst he was with us…… in Windsor Great Park!!!

Amused with the location of the live rescue and pleased that the horses involved were all safe, he witnessed first hand just how much organisation is involved in a rescue.

He  was a wonderful visitor and who knows, perhaps he’ll be able to visit again when he is here looking at Poundbury, his “town” next to Dorchester.

Winter parking your horse box

Horseboxes and trailers parked up in the Winter

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It’s that time of year again when many horse boxes and trailers get parked out of the way and left in a safe place for the winter – whilst no-one needs them. Much trouble is taken to make sure that the doors are locked, windows protected and anti-burglary devices are fitting correctly and that’s it, job done. Attentions are turned to keeping the horses warm, fed and worked just enough to make sure they are not too unfit when spring comes again.

So, fast-forward to longer days, warmer weather and the excitement of the new season ahead. The horses are schooled a little harder and are clad in thinner rugs. They are clipped, brushed and groomed. The tack is inspected and the smell of saddle soap is everywhere. A new pair of boots or a riding hat perhaps; and this season’s jodhpurs are right up there on the list.

At last, it’s time to fetch the horsebox or trailer. You haven’t seen it for months you’ve been so busy getting everything ready but the excitement is real as you hold the keys in your hands, ready to unlock the anti-theft devices and doors……and then, the crushing truth is revealed.

The locks have rusted and seized, the brakes are almost welded solid, the tyres have deflated and crazed and the tyre valves are completely useless. The batteries are in such bad condition that any mechanic would recommend new ones and even the rubber seal around the windscreen has begun to crack. All this, and you haven’t even noticed the state of the paintwork which is now dull and peeling, covered in bird droppings and beginning to play host to moss and lichen growth – but hey, at least the air quality is good!

It was all so shiny just a short time ago, and it was well loved when it was put away, it really was. How can all this happen so quickly????

Well OK, I’m not really suggesting that your much loved horse transportation system which was nearly new just 16 weeks ago will actually be nothing but a small pile of rust over one winter, but you get the point. It’s worth looking after the Lorries and Trailers.

Now the sad fact is that few of us can have a temperature controlled garage with mechanic, body specialist and someone from Goodyear to look after the tryes, so what are the top tips for looking after your vehicles on a budget?

Winter parking your horse vehicle

  1. It’s really ideal if you can actually take it for a spin once or twice a month. It doesn’t need to be far, just enough to get everything warm and working properly and try to take advantage of dry days!
  2. If you can’t do that – perhaps you are declaring it off the road to save on tax or have reduced your insurance to fire and theft for instance – then try some of the following:
  • Clean the vehicle, paying special attention to getting rid of mud under the wheel arches. Do let the vehicle dry before putting it away
  • Leave the handbrake off – but remember to chock the wheels properly
  • Investigate the use of a “smart charger” for the battery (they keep the batteries in good order and can be left attached to the battery without fear of over-charging)
  • Lift the windscreen wipers so they are not touching the glass – or remove the bit with the rubber on it
  • Check that anti-freeze levels in the radiator system are suitable
  • Lubricate locks with a suitable lock oil
  • Consider raising the trailer or smaller vehicle onto blocks, even removing the wheels if you can and storing them in a dark, cool and dry place
  • Spraying WD40 under the bonnet and around the battery box is a good idea
  • Slackening auxiliary drive belts such as the alternator, power steering, air conditioning, etc. is a good idea if you know how. Don’t slacken the camshaft drive belt though
  • If you think it might get damp inside, do whatever you can to protect any carpets
  • Leave a list of what you’ve done in the vehicle so you don’t forget when you come back!

Fuel – maybe not what you think…

  • According to the AA, it can actually be best to leave the fuel tank FULL. This way, there is less room for water to seep in and contaminate any remaining fuel and it leaves no room for condensation to occur. Any water in the fuel is BAD…..

There are other things that can be done too, perhaps even some specific actions for your type of vehicle – so if the mood takes you, do a little more research!

What to do when you come back in the Spring

There will come a time when you need to use the vehicle again, so there are some things to think about before you do:

  1. Look at the list of what you did when you put it away last Autumn!
  2. Check tryes for tread, crazing and pressure (and put the wheels back on if you took them off)
    – make sure you use the correct torque on the wheel nuts
  3. If you didn’t leave the fuel tank full, make sure the fuel that’s in it isn’t stale or contaminated
  4. Check all fluid levels – oil, water, brakes and windscreen washer
  5. Check the brakes and make sure they operate properly
  6. Tighten any drive belts that were slackened off
  7. Clean the vehicle again
  8. At Equine Rescue Services we absolutely recommend that you have the vehicle serviced too – it’s got a long season ahead and even though we are with you all the way, we know that you’d rather not break –down if you don’t have to!!!

 

Take it with you

Horse Passport

It’s essential to carry them when you travel.

Take it with youYou’ve planned your trip, you’ve checked your horse is fit for the event and ready to travel. You’ve looked over your trailer or lorry for safety and good running order issues. You’ve loaded the horse(s) and everything you will need for your journey – but have you remembered your HORSE PASSPORT???

It’s not an option to forget it these days I’m afraid. There are simply countless times that you will need it, and if you can’t produce it when required, you are likely to suffer – like being refused a lift home if you’ve broken down for instance…..

HORSE PASSPORT – TAKE  IT  WITH  YOU  WHEN  YOU  TRAVEL. Enough said!!

When you need a spare wheel

To carry spare wheels – no brainer or don’t bother?

I was fascinated to read a thread on the Horse & Hound website forum recently which posed the question of whether we should carry spare wheels with tyres on for our horse vehicles when we travel.

Now when I grew up, tyre technology wasn’t up to much and we were always taught that a puncture was almost guaranteed on a long journey. A deep knowledge of where the spare and all the paraphernalia was housed, and how to change a wheel by the road-side was ingrained in our minds – along with what to do when the engine over-heated and weekly bicycle maintenance! For me, it was amazing to think anyone might attempt a journey without a spare wheel on-board.

But then I got thinking. Firstly, the technological world of rubber has moved on considerably since those days and in fact, I have only had 2 punctures in the last…. can’t remember how many but a lot of…. years. What’s more, both of those punctures were so slow I didn’t even notice them straight away and had plenty of time to take the vehicle to our local tyre dealer.

Secondly, we’ve just bought a brand new car. It’s a tiny Skoda Citigo and guess what….. it doesn’t even have a spare wheel in it!!! Apparently lots of new cars don’t have spare wheels these days and of course, you pay for a brilliant breakdown service, so why bother to carry one?

Furthermore, a spare tyre is not part of the MOT test and there is no statutory requirement to carry one. So what’s the point? – We may well ask.

Well, logic and sanity soon returned along with many good reasons to keep the age old tradition of carrying a spare wheel with tyre (and knowing where it is) going. Read on for a selection:

1. Tyre sizes – whilst very modern vehicles may use more standard items, older vehicles will almost certainly have unusual size tyres that may be difficult to find in a hurry. If your vehicle tyre size is not in stock and you’re on the way home late Sunday afternoon, there’s trouble.

2. Tyre Ratings – These relate to the weight and speed at which a tyre is tested for. Lorry and trailer tyres are simply a very different thing to those on a car so again, correctly rated tyres need to be in stock if you have an emergency and no spare.

3. A damaged wheel rim – If the actual metal wheel rim is damaged, (a heavy scrape on the curb or a decent kick from a hoof) then even if a correctly specified tyre is available at short notice, they couldn’t fit it to the wheel anyway.

I’m sure you can think of a ton more reasons, all of them ‘no-brainers’ to carry a spare wheel with tyre in your horse carrying vehicles. After all, in an emergency, you know it’s time, it’s stress, it could be money and above all it’s your horses that will be home un-phased if you pay attention to the boring details.

Finally, it’s quite true that even with my impressive skills at changing wheels by the road-side, I am not keen to change a lorry or trailer wheel by myself in an urgent situation. You will almost certainly need our help in a tyre emergency but the more you can help us, the faster we can get you back on the road. For speed and for simple peace of mind, do carry a spare wheel with a tyre on when you travel – and make sure you check its condition regularly – there’s few things quite like a flat tyre on a spare wheel when you need it!

Some legal stuff FYI:
• For vehicles not exceeding 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes) must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm over the centre three quarters of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference, there must also be no bulges or cuts on the side walls.

• Vehicles in excess of 3,500KG (3.5 tonnes) the minimum tread depth is 1mm in a continuous band measuring at least three quarters of the breath of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference, there must also be no bulges or cuts in the side walls

• In both cases the tyre must be suitably inflated for the use to which the vehicle or trailer is put.

Travelling with horses in Hot weather

BE PREPARED! If you are you will not STRESS

Water and Ice

First things first, get your lorry ready!!! Get plenty of water, a horse drinks normally between 5-10 gallons of water daily depending on size. IF you have an old chest freezer put in 2 big 20l water carriers leaving 2 inches at the top for expansion. Put these in your lorry securely in the horse section as these will defrost and cool the air. Failing that recycle your plastic bottles 2 litres and more and fill with water and freeze and place in a plastic box again with the lid off.

Also have minimum 40 litres of fresh water for your horse, a lot of modern horse boxes have tanks underneath, get those full the night before. If they have not been used for a while get a bottle of Milton or any other baby sterilising fluid (available from Chemists) and fill with cold water and empty the Milton into the tank, leave for 30 mins and then empty. No need to rinse, just fill up with fresh water after emptying.

Fill up the lorry with drinks for you -lucozade is brilliant in this weather to rehydrate and replenish you fully as well as plenty of water as well.

Lorry Checks

Engine oil and summer coolant should be checked as well as tyre tread, wall and pressures and do not forget the spare tyre either. Just because it was plated 6 months ago does not mean it is road worthy! Regular servicing and checking your lorry will ensure it will not break down. You should, before you drive your lorry, do a walk round check to make sure everything is fine before you drive off. After all you are carrying your best friend on board!

Dog crate – if you are taking your lorry dogs with you then make sure they will be safe too! Dog crates are a perfect way of keeping your dog safe in your lorry whilst driving along. There are cooling jackets for them to wear all available at most pet supply shops, again these are ideal and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and check frequently.

Ensure you have your membership card for your equine breakdown recovery!!! And your horse’s passports on board-it is the law!

 If your lorry breaks down

If you can limp carefully into the services do this! But be mindful of your slow speed and it maybe better for the Highways Agency or Police to escort you off the road, Equine Rescue Services can help you with this!

Services are BUSY places with plenty of hussle and bussle, noisy air brakes, plenty of loud metal bangs, engines revving. Find a quiet area where you can IF it is safe to do so drop the ramp, put out your warning triangle to show other users that not only are you broken down but to warn them not to get close.

Other road users may not see you, so be mindful that they may not be expecting to come across horses in the lorry park!

IF you can find a shady area, bearing in mind the sun moves across the sky, that is great. Keeping your lorry cool is of paramount importance and keep the fans going (if you have them) if the electrics have not failed.

If you are still at the show ground, unload and put your horses in the stable. Most show centres will let you do this if you have not already booked stables overnight for during a show.

Check what you are wearing! You may have undressed from your show gear into summer shorts and strappy top! Whilst cooling for you, be careful around horses their feet can cause broken bones and large lacerations on your legs. There are plenty of cooling materials that jodhpurs are made of to cover your legs and keep your steel toe capped boots on and put on your hat if getting your horse off. You are no use to your horse if you are being carted off by the paramedics!!!!

Wash and Scrape

Horses do need water on their backs and large muscle areas but be careful not to insulate them! Wet towels are only effective for 5 mins and after this they insulate and warm up the horse.

The rules for soaking horses is washdown and scrape off with a sweat scraper. Do this 5 times repeating the wash and scrape. You can do this with ICED water -endurance riders have been doing this for years and years with no ill effects.

Pinch your horse’s skin, and see how quickly it goes back by counting 1, 2, 3 but slowly just like seconds. If it goes back immediately then he is not dehydrated. If it takes more than 3 seconds to go back then he is dehydrated.

Try to encourage to drink and there are plenty of products on the Equestrian market to put in the water to make it more palatable but these are NOT SUITABLE for EMS or PPID horses when you are watching their sugar intake.

Use a brand new sponge and soak it in the water and place in the horse’s mouth (mind their teeth and make sure you do not get eaten or they eat the sponge!)

Put apples or carrots in the water bucket and let them play apple bobbing.

Use a bottle or syringe to put water in the horse’s mouth to encourage drinking

There are some new rugs on the market that are cooling rugs, again ideal for standing horses and you need to cool them down quickly. Again like the canine cooling jackets follow the manufacturers instructions.

Do all of this and your horse will stay cool.

 Spotting potential Problems: What am I looking for?

Horses will sweat naturally to keep cool but this is an inefficient way for them due to their large muscle mass and we have to help them. In the wild horses will find shade and roll in muddy wallows to put a mud pack on them to protect them from the sun and flies. They will also paddle in water.

A sweaty horse needs to be cooled by the WASH AND SCRAPE method as mentioned above. This should bring down the horses temperature.

Keep an eye and regularly wash and scrape down. If you have fans on the lorry that will help as well.

If your horse has been suffering from heat stress and it is left untreated it can lead to a more serious condition, known as Heat Stroke.  Signs that your horse may be suffering from this include:

  • High temperature, horses normal temp is 100.5 degrees F (or 36 degrees Celsius)
  • Skin is usually dry and warm to the touch but they can be sweaty with foam as well
  • Skin can be twitching all over like there are flies on him
  • Horses may be staggering around, and may even fall, muscles may tie up like azutoria
  • They can be unaware of their surroundings, and this can make them a danger both to themselves and to others and humans!
  • Failure to treat can lead to very serious complications, call the vet or ask the Equine Rescue Control room to find the nearest vet to come to you.

 

The key is to remain as calm as you can and this will keep your horse calm.

If you have to get your horse off to walk around ensure you have a good control measure – a bridle is the best or chifney if you know how to use one. You do not want your beloved best friend trotting off up the road!

Make sure it is safe to do this, especially if you can stay on the lorry, if you can’t stay on then find a quiet spot.

Author: Julie Magnus from Julie Magnus Racehorse Transport   http://www.jmrt.co.uk

Second Badminton Title for William Fox-Pitt on Chilli Morning

A brilliant final round in the show jumping ring saw William Fox-Pitt take his second Badminton title on Sunday. We were gripped watching his calm approach to the jumps, and like thousands more, the team at Equine Rescue Services were willing Chilli Morning over each jump with bated breath. In true magnanimous style: “It’s Chilli Morning who deserves it…” says Mr F-P, but we think the jockey deserves a fair bit of praise too. Uncountable hours of hard work and commitment at the stables; highly talented guidance during the three gruelling events; and not least, just having the vehicles to safely transport the horse. It’s a privilege for us to be a part of the support that goes into this winning team and our congratulations go out to William Fox-Pitt and all at team Chilli Morning!
“My horses are valuable animals and I wouldn’t consider travelling without the backup that we know you provide.” William Fox-Pitt
Equine Rescue Services provide specialist equine vehicle breakdown cover to the Fox-Pitt Eventing team.

Understanding A Motorway Breakdown – And Keeping Safe

Understanding A Motorway Breakdown – And Keeping Safe

An average of 250 people are killed each year on motorway hard shoulders, making understanding a motorway breakdown a potential life saver. So many incidents could be avoided if basic rules were followed.

While there are different reasons why drivers need to pull over, the subsequent environment can be fatal. The primary cause of such accidents is fatigue and loss of concentration. Tired drivers focus on stationary vehicles on the hard shoulder, imagining they are following that vehicle, until it’s too late and collision occurs.

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Tips about Tyres

Tyre failures account for approximately 30% of the breakdowns that we attend at the roadside and we believe that many of these could be avoided. Below are some tips to help you look after your tyres and avoid unnecessary breakdowns.

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Ten Tips for Travelling with Horses

Ten Tips for Travelling with Horses

Travelling with horses can be a stressful event not only for you but also your horse.
Equine Rescue Services estimates that an incredible 70% of the breakdowns it attends could have been avoided with a little pre-journey preparation and basic safety procedures.

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Transporting Horses

Transporting Horses

What should you know before transporting your horse? Read this guide to Transporting Horses written by Julie Magnus of Julie Magnus Racehorse Transport (www.jmrt.co.uk)

Here are the most important things you should know about transporting your horses – preparation and planning beforehand, things to remember during the journey, and caring for your horse and horsebox afterwards.

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