In many cases, if you have passed your driving test after 1st January 1997 you will need to take a further test in order to tow your horse trailer. Most horse trailers, when carrying one or more horses, are over the maximum authorised mass (MAM) limit for towing on a standard B licence. This means that you would be required to pass the B+E car and trailer test in order to tow legally. Chris Winchester from Anglian Trailer Centre says: “Ignorance is not an excuse for towing with an incorrect licence and if you are caught then you are liable to receive a fine and even points on your licence. The rules exist to improve the safety of road users and horse so if you are unsure, ask for advice. Also, remember that if you have an accident and hold the wrong licence your insurance will be invalid.”
As a simple introductory guide the weight of the trailer when unladen, plus the weight of the horses to be towed, must not exceed the trailer’s maximum authorised mass. This, in turn, should not exceed the car’s maximum towing weight. Your trailer’s MAM can be found on the ID plate and your car’s maximum towing will be stated in the handbook, or consult the manufacturer. Chris Winchester adds: “Make sure you take into account any equipment you will also be carrying, such as tack or water canisters. These could push your trailer weight over the limit. Also, if you are just on or under the limit it may be worth reconsidering the set up – remember you will be towing your own horses so safety is paramount and it is better to be safe than sorry.”
What is the B+E test?
B+E is the Driving Standards Agency practical driving test for car and trailer. No medical examination or additional theory test is required and the test is regarded by the DSA as the first step to driving Large Goods Vehicles and is examined accordingly.
The test lasts for about an hour and a half and includes a number of different elements including a reversing exercise, hitching, unhitching and a controlled stop.
In addition to the trailer manoeuvring exercises the candidate must show the examiner skill and competency on the road.
If you think you need some on the road practice then you are allowed to drive a trailer with or without horses on board as long as you display ‘L’ plates to the front and rear of the towing vehicle and trailer and are accompanied by a person who has either passed their driving test pre-1997, or held their B+E licence for more than three years.