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Buying A Horse | Horsing Around

Posted By: JR

Horsing around

By Neville Walker, Editor, Rodney’s RuralLifestyle Magazine

2011 Rodney’s Rural LifestyleMagazine

In the September issue, Sandy Reid discussedfactors to consider when buying a horse float. At the timewe said we would cover trucks in a future issue, but in themeantime we have found an interesting alternative that isrelatively new to New Zealand, horse vans, which in theshort time they have been in the country are proving to filla need.

Larissa Mortimer of Horse Vans NZ Ltd, based inMatakana, imports these vans from Europe commercially andnow sells the vans from both Matakana and a central NorthIsland location. After just 18 months she can only justkeep up with demand and is selling them all over thecountry. Appreciating that not everyone has the need foroutright purchase, Larissa is now also able to rent out orfinance/lease the horse vans as a convenient alternative.

When I ask Larissa how her involvement in the vans cameabout she explains that she’d had a horse that travelledbadly in a float. “It used to scramble up the sides, andthen it would half fall down and pop up again.” Larissaspotted the vans in magazines her mother-in-law bought backfrom the UK in early 2009. The rear-facing orientationinside complements the horse’s natural physiology. Forexample, when the vehicle is braking it is easier for ahorse to be facing the rear because it will lean back intoits hocks where all the strength is, instead of being thrownforward. “With its head and shoulders at the back it canuse its head to counterbalance and lean through corners withthe shoulders,” Larissa says. She also saw that a vanwould solve the whole hooking up, towing and reversing issuethat floats present.

Larissa researched the idea for afurther year before deciding to set up Horse Vans NZ Ltd tocater to horse owners who had similar needs. Thecoachbuilder she works with in the UK was the first todevelop and build these horse vans some years ago. As aresult of many years of trial and error, he uses materialswith the strength and robustness to be able to carry heavypayloads across many miles of less-than-forgiving roads.While horses have been known to kick through the sides ofother horse vans, it has never happened to any of thiscoachbuilder’s vans.

The side entry to the van is upa short ramp and is easy to lift and lower. Partitions inthe centre are high, giving support and confidence to thehorse. Internal LED lighting works well, with very littledrain on battery power when the vehicle is not running andwith cameras on the horse area and reversing cameras at theback of the van, it’s easy to know what’s going on atany stage of the journey. In addition, sliding viewingwindows from the cab to the back make it easy to chat to thehorse, helping keep a nervous horse calm.

Larissa doesall the drawing up and speccing and each van can becustomised to the buyer’s wish list. This includes thoseequine businesses that need to transport horses andequestrian products, enabling the vans to double as tradestands.

The vans drive very well laden or empty and areeconomical at 8L of diesel per 100km. Because driversdon’t need a heavy transport licence, anyone can jump inand operate the vehicle as needed.

The purchase optionsare $52,400+GST for the smaller size and $65,700+GST for themedium. Just released is a larger version designedoriginally for the Australian market and manufactured in NZby Kea Campers. Priced at around $105k+GST, these impressivevans have an 8ft internal headspace, carry up to 3 hacks (or2 X 18 hands high), and include Satellite TV, kitchenappliances, full bathroom with hot shower, beds for 3people, and offer good storage capacity. Also included isthe customising of the colour scheme and graphics to suityour preferences, registration, on-road costs, delivery, a3-year warranty (including an ‘any reason’ 60-dayreturn) and the first 1000kms of road user changes. Thefirst of these Kea models has just been sold and Larissaexpects more orders given the strong level of enquiry sheexperienced as a result of Equidays at Mystery Creek(Hamilton) in November.

These vans are growing inpopularity as they fit a clearly defined need. Larissa’scurrent customers have bought because they want theflexibility and convenience to travel distances with up to 3hacks, but don’t want the expense, maintenance costs andlack of flexibility of a truck. It’s a wonder no onethought of making these vans available here sooner.

Fullspecs of the small and large versions are available onHorsevans.co.nz and HorseVans Facebook page. Larissa isavailable on 09 422 7011/021 907 644 to arrange viewing andor test-driving.

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