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HorSiN’ aroUNd



By Neville Walker

In the September issue, Sandy Reid discussed factors to consider when buying a horse float. At the time we said we would cover trucks in a future issue, but in the meantime we have found an interesting alternative that is relatively new to New Zealand, horse vans, which in the short time they have been in the country are proving to fill a need. Larissa Mortimer of Horse Vans NZ Ltd, based in Matakana, imports these vans from Europe commercially and now sells the vans from both Matakana and a central North Island location. After just 18 months she can only just keep up with demand and is selling them all over the country. Appreciating that not everyone has the need for outright purchase, Larissa is now also able to rent out or finance/lease the horse vans as a convenient alternative. When I ask Larissa how her involvement in the vans came about she explains that she’d had a horse that travelled badly in a float. “It used to scramble up the sides, and then it would half fall down and pop up again.” Larissa spotted the vans in magazines her mother-in-law bought back from the UK in early 2009. The rear-facing orientation inside complements the horse’s natural physiology. For example, when the vehicle is braking it is easier for a horse to be facing the rear because it will lean back into its hocks where all the strength is, instead of being thrown forward. “With its head and shoulders at the back it can use its head to counterbalance and lean through corners with the shoulders,” Larissa says. She also saw that a van would solve the whole



hooking up, towing and reversing issue that floats present. Larissa researched the idea for a further year before deciding to set up Horse Vans NZ Ltd to cater to horse owners who had similar needs. The coachbuilder she works with in the UK was the first to develop and build these horse vans some years ago. As a result of many years of trial and error, he uses materials with the strength and robustness to be able to carry heavy payloads across many miles of less-thanforgiving roads. While horses have been known to kick through the sides of other horse vans, it has never happened to any of this coach builder’s vans.

transport horses and equestrian products, enabling the vans to double as trade stands. The vans drive very well laden or empty and are economical at 8L of diesel per 100km. Because drivers don’t need a heavy transport licence, anyone can jump in and operate the vehicle as needed. The purchase options are $52,400+GST for the smaller size and $65,700+GST for the medium. Just released is a larger version designed originally for the Australian market and manufactured

The side entry to the van is up a short ramp and is easy to lift and lower. Partitions in the centre are high, giving support and confidence to the horse. Internal LED lighting works well, with very little drain on battery power when the vehicle is not running and with cameras on the horse area and reversing cameras at the back of the van, it’s easy to know what’s going on at any stage of the journey. In addition, sliding viewing windows from the cab to the back make it easy to chat to the horse, helping keep a nervous horse calm. Larissa does all the drawing up and speccing and each van can be customised to the buyer’s wish list. This includes those equine businesses that need to

Walk on entry from the side of the van makes entry that much easier.

December Rural Lifestyle Magazine  

Cover Story: Jools Topp, horsewoman pg 3Horsin’ around with horse vans pg 8Landscaping: Flower power pg 11Animal theatrics pg 14Wetland rest...

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