So, you've stuck around and become a certified mental case and you're wanting to seal your fate by purchasing your own box. Where to from here? Assuming you have the vehicle to tow with, you have two options - purchase second-hand or new.
In both cases you need to keep the following in mind :
Then, of lesser importance, but it'll make your life easier :
- How dark or light is it inside?
- Are there enough windows and ventilation holes?
- How secure are the divider and other bars?
- Are the sides and other bars padded?
- How do you feel when you're inside the box?
- Does it rattle and make a noise?
- How is the footing - would YOU like to travel for 2 hours or more standing on that floor?
- What kind of braking system does the box have, and on how many wheels?
- Single or double chassis? (My personal preference is double chassis as it's more stable on the road - I doubt that single chassis are still made)
- Single or double berth? (Single berth is very unstable on the road and you don't have enough space for all your stuff, and besides, you never know when you might have another horse!)
- How steep is the ramp when down?
- How easy is the ramp to handle - can you pick it up easily by yourself?
- How customisable is the box - will the manufacturer add anything non-standard for you?
- How easy is it to tow? Take a test drive, with YOUR vehicle, to get a good idea of the stability, weight, etc. as well as the manageability of the box when hitching and un-hitching.
- How large are the back lights?
- What guarantee does the manufacturer give on the box?
Apart from the above list, when you're looking at second-hand boxes, you have to treat it like purchasing a second-hand car - you can even go as far as taking it to the AA for inspection. You need to go over it with a fine-tooth comb, checking out the chassis; wiring; tow hitch; floor; make sure all bolts are tight and secure. Bear in mind that the bank won't give you a loan for a second-hand box, only for a new one, so you'll either need cash or loan the money from somewhere else at an exorbitant interest rate!
- Would you be able to sleep comfortably in the box? I had my box customised with two beds which also act as padding on the sides.
- Is there a top door or flap that'll keep out the rain?
- Is there enough extra space for other stuff?
- Can you still customise the box some time after you've purchased it?
Purchasing a box is a big investment and you should do your homework carefully. Take your time before deciding as you cannot change your mind once you've bought the box. Go to events, even jumping and dressage shows, and check out the boxes and ask questions of the owners or drivers. Make a list of questions like "Are you happy with your box?", "Would you change anything if you could?", "How easy is it to tow?" - you'll hear answers and statements you'll never hear from a salesman! I've seen many people walking around at events, asking questions - we're more than happy to help you in your research because we've all been there.