Horse Float Driver

Transport and Travel  

 

Related Jobs or Working with these Jobs

 

Clerical or OrganisingNature or RecreationSkill Level 1

Horse Float Drivers are responsible for the transportation of race and breeding horses. Their work involves transporting race horses to and from various race tracks on race day and transporting horses between racing stables and spelling farms. Float Drivers also transport Stallions, Broodmares and Foals for breeding purposes. There may also be some long haul and interstate work involved. FutureGrowthModerate

Float Drivers must hold a MR, HR or HC truck license and be prepared to work long hours, involving early morning starts and overnight trips. The must also have experience handling horses as they will
be required to load horses on and off the trucks.

Knowledge, skills and attributes     

  • air and sea transportation procedures
  • alternative loading techniques
  • communication procedures within stable and wider racing industry
  • common horse behaviour, social traits and vices
  • horse health status
  • horse illnesses and injuries
  • load capacity of vehicles and floats
  • logbooks
  • purpose of using appropriate personal protective equipment
  • procedures for operation and maintenance of equipment and technology
  • racing industry animal welfare requirements
  • racing industry safety requirements, including safe operating procedures
  • relevant rules of racing
  • road safety rules and regulations regarding transport of animals
  • signs of stress in horses
  • vehicle safety
  • applying safe handling and work practices when dealing with horses
  • conducting safety checks on vehicles and floats
  • communicating with employer, co-workers and others using assertive communication techniques to gather, interpret and relay information related to supervising transportation of horses
  • completing duties in accordance with safe operating procedures
  • defensive driving and appropriate level of driving expertise
  • identifying and using different items of personal protective equipment
  • identifying horse behaviour problems
  • identifying signs of stress in horses
  • identifying symptoms and signs of illness or injury
  • identifying types of horse transport
  • operating a range of equipment and technology
  • reading and interpreting workplace documentation, including rules of racing
  • relating to people from a range of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and with varying physical and mental abilities
  • reporting problems promptly
  • written communication skills to complete workplace documentation and reports.

  

Horses in large horse float    
(Source: Greg Grant Saddlery)

Duties and Tasks

  • Preparing Your Vehicle
    Before driving out the gate we recommend carrying out a complete safety check on your vehicle and float. Key areas to focus on include:
    • Servicing – Always ensure your vehicles are serviced up to date and double check your oil and water levels. Carry out an electrical check to confirm your lights, blinkers and brakes are still functional.
    • Tyre Pressure – The correct tyre pressure is essential for safe towing when travelling with your horse. Floats should be fitted with light truck tyres due to the strain of bearing heavy loads. Over-inflating tyres leads to an increased risk of tyre damage, reduces the surface contact between your tyres and the road and gives a rougher ride for your horses or ponies. Under-inflating can cause serious damage to your tyre. Tyre pressures for your car can be found in the owner’s manual while the tyre pressure for your float is based on your load. For an exact weight drive over a weighbridge.
    • Tread – Check the tread on your tyres. Worn tyres increase the risk of a blow out which could leave you and your horse stranded.
  • Preparing Your Horse
    If you are travelling for less than 4-6 hours there is generally little need to make special preparations beyond ensuring your horse is fed, watered and healthy. However there are many extra considerations for longer journeys.
    • General Heath Check – Unless you’re floating in an emergency situation make sure your horse is in good health. Your horse should be eating, drinking and working normally.
    • Rugging – Ideally a lightweight cotton rug or combo will suffice however depending on how cold it is you may need to add an extra rug on top. As a general rule it is better for your horse to be too cool, than too hot. Overheating increases the risk of health issues such as travel sickness.
    • Boots – Travel boots should be well fitted to prevent them ending up under your horses feet during travel. This could lead to them slip and panic.
    • Tail bandages – Can be a great tool if your horse tends to lean back on the tail gates in your float. To prevent your horse from developing sores, not to mention sending their tail bald, you may want to consider wrapping your horse’s tail. This can be done with either a bandage or a tail Wrapping a bandage too tightly can have serious consequences so be mindful of a comfortable fit
    • Drinking – Often a horse won’t drink while they are away from home. To mitigate this risk take a container of water from home with you – as your horse will be accustomed to the taste.
    • Feeding – Avoid feeding a large amount of grain prior to departing as it takes longer for horses to digest – you may need to get up earlier to give your horse breakfast.
        
  • On the road
    • Feeding - When it comes to feeding your horse during travel it may help make them enjoy the trip but some horses can tend to overeat, which can lead to an increased risk of travel sickness. There is also a risk of your horse suffering from choke if fed while travelling.
    • Tying your horse up – Don’t tie your horse too tight. Ideally they should be able to get their head below their chest, as this will allow mucous to drain. Otherwise this can descend towards the lungs leading to travel sickness. When travelling you have the option of not tying your horse up. However some horses may be prone to annoying their travelling companions or trying to turn in the bay. If you do decide to tie your horse up we recommend using either a quick release snap tie point or a rubber safety tie.
    • Travelling in the heat – If possible avoid travelling during the hottest part of the day however good ventilation in your float can greatly improve your horses
        
  • At your destination
    • Walk your horse – When you arrive take your horse for a walk, as this will help with blood flow, allow them to stretch and assess their new environment.
    • Clean your float – As soon as possible after travel you should clean out your float. If your horse has urinated you should hose it out or throw a few buckets of water through it to reduce the risk of rotting floor boards. A disinfectant scrub or spray can help limit the smell.
        
  • General towing tips
    • Corners and Roundabouts – Both need to be taken slowly – if you turn too fast or too suddenly your horse will lose its balance and scramble.
    • Drive to the conditions – Wet and windy conditions can make travelling a fair bit trickier. Water on the road can dramatically increase your stopping distance, play it safe and allow the extra room in case of an emergency. Excessively windy conditions also have the potential to cause the float to move more than usual.
    • Distance between vehicles – According to the Department of Transport it is recommended to maintain at least 5 seconds (120m) between you and any vehicle in front whilst towing during ideal conditions. This distance can vary greatly depending on the weather.

Horse in front of Float
Horse having a break!
(Source: Regency Floats)

Working conditions

A truck driver can be expected to work irregular hours, make early starts and spend days away from home making deliveries all over Australia. Horse Float Drivers are only allowed certain hours before they have to stop and check on the horses.

Before beginning a trip, paper work is required to be filled out correctly. The truck driver is also required to maintain a log book detailing hours of driving, fatigue breaks, fuel consumption and reports of accidents or any problems with the vehicle. In addition to this administrative work, a truck driver needs to check brakes, oil, tyres, electrical systems, water, hydraulics and air, prior to each trip.

Tools and technologies

A core piece of technology used in the trucking industry is the Global Positioning System (GPS). Not only can drivers use a GPS to get to their destination, trucks can be tracked so that customers can be told when to expect their delivery, and management can keep an eye on progress.

Another important piece of technology for truck drivers is the road relay system that keeps drivers informed of the correct matching of the engine and road speeds to preferred power output and fuel economy. This technology assists truck drivers to improve their driving practices, which can save companies thousands of dollars in fuel costs annually.

Truck drivers are responsible for the stability of the load they carry and are often required to assist with loading and unloading cargo. Therefore, they will need to know how to handle horses and monitor their behaviour.

Education and training/entrance requirements

It is possible to work as a truck driver without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. You can also become qualified to work as a truck driver by completing a traineeship in road transport yard operations (freight handler). This traineeship can take between 12 and 36 months to complete. Most owners or horse trainers will not allow their valuable cargo to be transported by an inexperienced driver. You will need to learn to drive a horse float on short trips first.

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