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At the height of its popularity, Bedford Vehicles was the manufacturer of choice for rugged and reliable horseboxes. Unfortunately, the vehicles ceased production in 1989 with the demise of the company. However, that hasn’t stopped one club in Cheshire from working to preserve all vintage Bedford horseboxes still on the road.

The Bedford Enthusiasts Club was formed by a group of individuals who love the classic vehicles manufactured under the Bedford/GM partnership first established in the 1930s. They especially love 7.5 and 3.5 tonne horsebox lorries because they believe the vehicles offer the best ride for the horses. The club is hoping to preserve as many as possible by helping owners with spare parts and advice on keeping the vehicles going.

According to Horse & Hound, club members see the Bedford horsebox as being a lot like the original Volkswagen Beetle. It is not only a rugged and reliable vehicle; it is also a cultural icon and a good conversation starter. And like the Beetle, Bedford horseboxes have unique qualities that make them easily identifiable among even the most casual of observers.

Today’s horseboxes just do not have that same character, say club members. That’s one of the reasons they are trying to keep the beloved horseboxes alive. If you own a classic Bedford horsebox and would like some helpful advice about maintaining it, feel free to contact the Bedford Enthusiasts Club.

Operating a Horsebox in the UK

Operating a horsebox for profit in the UK requires a special license in most, but not all, cases. Anything up to a 3.5 tonne horsebox and vehicle combination can be operated on a standard car licence, while anything in excess of 3.5 tonnes requires an upgraded licence. Bear in mind these weights are calculated according to the total weight of the vehicles and load, otherwise known as gross vehicle weight.

Hobbyists, defined by the government as those who transport horses for amateur competitions and the like, are also not required to have a special licence. Even if you do earn prize money for some competitions, a special licence will not be required if that prize money does not constitute a substantial portion of your total annual income. You will need to check with the government for details regarding income limitations.

In either case, horsebox driver training is still a very good idea whether a licence is required or not. Remember that operating a vehicle carrying live animals is substantially different from operating one carrying static cargo. Drivers need to be sensitive to their animals as well as other drivers on the road.

At the HGV Training Centre, we can provide you with training for either a 7.5 or 3.5 tonne horsebox, including both lorries and horsebox trailers. Our training prepares you to drive safely on the open road and within the restricted confines of horse competitions and equestrian centres. For the safety of everyone involved, we urge you to get proper training before operating a horsebox or horsebox trailer.

Sources:

Horse & Hound – https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/got-classic-horsebox-yard-fans-bedford-lorries-want-hear-421006

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