John O'Leary





Go to the bottom of the page to look at the results of these years.(3rd March, 2016)

from this

to this AND watch the Video 20/3/16





This page is going to be devoted to the improvement of Australian Horse Floats, given that there has never been any attempt to design for Horse Safety, not one Float has proper viewing and 100% of them are too low for the ever increasing height of Australian Horses. For the record:

  • The highest Float in Australia is 2170mm with the average being 2150mm

  • They all have dangerous fixings

  • None of them have a window anywhere near where a Horse can actually see out.

  • and no one  have have worked out the one big secret...THAT THE EYES OF A HORSE ARE ON THE OUTSIDE OF THEIR HEADS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and they are Blind dead in front and behind.





When I put this site up in May 2003, I wrote a piece which talked about the relationship between horse float design and injuries to horses.

I get many enquiries as to which brand I recommend. At this time I do not recommend any but note that one South Australian Company is trying.

I am taking legal advice on using a complete list of photographs of every brand in order to point out the dangers to horses on most of them.





Any float manufacturer who uses this fitting is in my opinion...incompetent. These latches can and do let the back ramp fall down during travel!

Here are two major potential horse killers. The spare wheel waiting to trap the lead rope and the highly dangerous back ramp latch

Here is a highly dangerous back ramp locking device. Ready to lacerate a horse and to trap the lead rope to hang the horse up short. This float has tie up points that are also dangerously low imho

Here is another top brand with highly dangerous ramp hitching. These severely injure horses.

Note the personnel door handle sticking out. Imagine a horse hooked on that with a rope halter?

 horsy, put yur hoof through here and have a pull back.

Would you believe that there are floats made like this all over Australia? You wouldn't want to know how many horses have died  in them. The hoof drops to the ground and the bone sticks out the bottom of the leg of the horse.


Another potential killer. Open tow bar ready to rip a hoof off a horse or break it's leg.


Low tie up points like this are dangerous. Horses regularly get trapped with their lead ropes beneath the rear and pull back violently.

Low tie up point, spare wheel and dangerous back ramp fixing, all waiting to trap a horse wearing a rope halter.

Here we have the centre division to the floor. I have never seen one that does not look like this

28/10/04 A bad injury caused by the fact that Almost all Australian Horse Float Manufacturers insist upon using square tube instead of round for the inside roof support.

Put your leg through here horsie!

or in this one

A Bum Bar as far as it will open if you are not quick enough. Ouch!!!

Low Centre division which causes climbers

Fixed head division

Rear doors handle ready to catch any horse

Two handles that worry me greatly.

Here is another disaster waiting to happen. Any float which has mudguards like this is dangerous

See the danger here?


The centre division has a back leg ready to catch horses legs and to take away all confidence in loading.



Close up of them

  • Any horse float that has a centre division that goes all the way to the floor will cause scramblers'

  • The back ramp fixtures as shown on some of these floats are dangerous and do severely injure

  • Horses get killed in open tow bars. Horses have their hooves ripped off totally by open tow bars on horse floats.

  • Horses hurt themselves and lose floating confidence by centre divisions that have back legs to the floor.

  • Horse floats that have spare wheels bolted to the side do cause serious tying up dangers and injuries.

  • Exposed sharp edges of mud guards cause injuries to horses.

  • Low tie up points on floats cause horse accidents, injuries and other training problems.

  • Chest bars, centre divisions, head divisions and bum bars should all be re-movable.

  • Fixed centre head divisions are dangerous

  • Chains as bum bars are dangerous. Narrow bum bars are dangerous.

  • Square roof braces instead of round ones represent a high danger to horse. (See photo above)

  • Cables of any description, used to hold up or let down the back ramp are highly dangerous

Many more to come and this will be updated regularly with a full list of brand names with dangerous design faults.




I am happy to report that there does seem to be a slight change in attitude by some of Australia's Horse Float Manufacturers', some looking for better ways to do things for horses. They are still to wake up to the most important required changes, the ones that can and do influence the stress levels of horses the most. I know by extensive testing myself. After all, I see huge numbers of problem floaters and that is a wonderful opportunity to examine.




Hi Mr HP,

I just wanted to say thanks for all the tips on your site about float safety. I have just ordered my first float and the company were only too happy to oblige with these alterations. It has the spare wheel on the front, filled in draw bar, no back leg on the centre divider, no nasty gaps where horses can stick a leg through, the handle of the door and the ramp latches don't stick out and the ramp itself is wider than the entrance to the float so when unloading it is harder for them to accidently step off the side.

Without all the advice on your site I would not have realised there were so many possible dangers. So thanks from me and my horses who will hopefully be happier and safer travelling now.




The design of a lot of the floats of today and one brand in particular, heavily influences this research finding, as does angle loading floating.

Other studies have found that elevation of the horse's head, which restricts the range of neck movements, compromises the immune system and increases the number of bacteria in transtracheal aspirates. The increase in bacteria is thought to be the result of a decrease in clearance rate of the bacteria from the tracheobronchial secretions in horses that are confined and unable to lower their heads. This information suggests that the practice of cross-tying may, along with other factors, predispose horses to respiratory disorders following transport. It also leads to further questions on the athletic potential and disease susceptibility of the horse during the recovery period and post-transit complications from other stressors such as social stress, thermal stress, and housing or pathogen challenges. and more

In particular, they found that levels of serum cortisol, which is secreted during stressful situations, were greater in the cross-tied horses

Gibbs and Friend (1999) found that the preference of orientation when free standing was to be angled to the direction of travel, no preference was shown for angling to be neither forward nor backward travel. Horses rarely stand sideways to the direction of travel, but occasionally stood either facing or backward parallel to the direction of movement. Ability to balance was not affected by orientation in the trial conducted (Gibbs and Friend, 1999). These orientations were similar between horses whether tied up or free.

Lower head carriage allows weight to be shifted forward and enables better balancing ability (Gibbs and Friend, 1999). Gibbs and Friend (1999) observed that horses do spend some time facing forward. They conclude that if horses were averse to facing forward, then they would avoid this orientation.



Some things have changed a little but most has not. So a re-visit to some of the Float Companies.

Surfcoast Floats

Just a brief look but I notice that there are other archaic features including the bum bar set up which sticks straight out the back whilst loading the horse and does not fold around the side out of dangers way.

and Mustang Floats, WA on a refurbishment. Before and after shot.







Hi John,

We don't use ... & I DON'T recommend using box section for the chassis. We use 65x65x5 Duragal angle with the cross members spaced @300mm. Draw bar needs to be minimum 100x50x3 RHS Duragal. Have repaired MANY floats that have either angle (like wooden Taylor floats) or only 75x50 RHS draw bars ... and without exception they ALL bend & flex at the front of the float. Did a refurbishment of an old float after Christmas .... and this had 75x50 draw bar ... and it was bent up 25mm higher at the front ???
Rusted Metal: All of our float chassis' are constructed from "Duragal" angle (65x65x5mm) and not from square or rectangular box section. The reason we use angle and not square box section is that angle cannot hold any liquid inside and cause rust to form. It is common practice amongst a lot of other manufacturers to use box section for the chassis, then simply lay plywood on top (for the flooring) and attach with "Tek" screws through into the box section, then lay rubber mats over the top. The inherent problem that this system produces is that over time moisture, liquid (especially corrosive urine) works its way under the mats, down the "Tek" screws and end up inside the sealed box section causing it to rust from the inside out. Unfortunately you cant see the box sections from the inside, so you don't know to what extent the damage is, usually until it is too late and the floor has given way.

We do how ever use "Duragal" box section for the upper framing of the float, and where the uprights meet the angle chassis, drain holes are drilled through to allow any moisture to escape, preventing rusting.

The sheet metal we use is all 1.5mm Galvanised finish, which compared to some other manufacturers products is almost double the thickness and protected from corrosion with the galvanised coating. Compare pushing the front of our floats and the sheet metal will not deform like some others. The floats strength is achieved by using decent thickness sheet metal that is welded onto the frame, and not riveted like so many others. Prior to fitting the sheet metal to the frame, a bead of polyurethane sealer is applied to the frame, which provides an insulating bed between the two, helping to prevent rust from forming in between.

After all the sheet metal is fitted and the floats metal fabrication is completed, all the seams are sealed and coved with polyurethane sealer, including bonding the fibre glass roof onto the roof frames. This completely prevents water etc. from getting between the frame and the sheet metal and causing rust.

Have been enjoying the video's on you site .... you don't realise how important it is for all us "amateurs" to see how it's done properly !!! The amount of people I come across HERE that use your site as a reference ... is truly staggering !!!



Injury of the week

Removable Chest Rails, pull my leg why don't you? There are none in Australians Horse Floats, yet. They think they have them but they do no. Read my lips. Oh but I hear the Manufacturers say, "But we have them. Here is a photo."

Haha I say. That is not a removable chest bar. Well, it may be when there is no horse hung over the top of it but when one is, IT IS NOT A REMOVABLE CHEST BAR!!!!!!!!!!! Read my lips Boys. If anyone tried they would likely get killed and when a horse is on top of it, you cannot move a thing. I have tried, several times. So, here is the


and another poor horse pays the price for bad design in Horse Floats. They just don't get it and they just don't think. Caused by being hung by the flanks, over a chest bar.



These photos show are self explanatory.



Hi can you help,
> What do you do if your horse won't lower it's head as he goes in the
> float, he sticks his ears on the roof and freaks himself out and then
> bangs his forehead ?. The float is extended height.
> Sue

> What height is the horse and what internal height from floor to under
> back roof beam at dead centre of back of float Sue?
> John O'Leary

Hi John,

I've sent my horse to float school he is actually going in for last two days after relearning to lead properly(me learning) for a few days. He is about 16.3 and the float unfortunately is a good 4 inches lower in that section, hence the problem. The storm door actually sits into it and it cannot be removed bad design fault. I used to lead pony club style and have changed from up near the halter to about a foot of rope, Hunter has now lowered his llama style head carriage and doesn't drag me around and rip my arm out and all I do is pull lightly down and he puts his head down as I ask him in or out, he is even starting to go in by himself. I also catch him differently and he has to lower his head so I can put the halter on, I can't believe quiethe has been totally different horse. The guy who's doing it said he just isn't listening and I'm spoiling him by not being more firm in basic training and getting the horse to concentrate better and mind his manners but he is a nice smart horse he just needs me to be quicker with his lack of focus. Oh I think the floor to roof height is 7ft1in once inside. Thanks for reply. What do you think?
That equals 2160mm and that is under standard height, NOT EXTENDED!!!!!!!! So the design of your float has caused the problems for your horse. Anyhow horse at 116.3hh has to have a minimum of 2250 and in fact, 2350mm. They just don't get it!

Kind Regards



Congratulations to those Manufacturers who have made some important changes to Horse Floats in Australia. Flush Door handles, filled in tow bars and especially those who have accepted that every Float in the Country prior to this Website was too Low. Some have lifted their roof height to 2200mm and even 2250mm. Running boards were copied off my test float and other things. Great. Now match this:



I can rest now as I have designed the Worlds safest Float and it is on the Road. Regards


2011 Extensively tested the float with 100% of Horses voting and confirming my thoughts.

and see the 300mm added that Week.


2012  Floats to be launched in Australia and Manufactured by my Family. I rest my case



The Horsemen have driven every change seen in Australian Horse Floats in the last 15 Years. John Chatterton designing the angled walls in the JR Float and my efforts on this Page. These include

  • The First ever running Boards on a Horse Float

  • The First ever proper viewing out of Floats for Horses

  • First Safety Locks, door handles and back ramp fittings

  • First ever safe Mudguards

  • The increase in Float heights around the Country, driven by my Clients and our Prototype.

  • Having the highest Float in the World for 15 Years now.

  • Inventor of on board Safety Belts

  • Inventor of the first TRULY collapsible Chest Bars

  • Spring Loaded Centre Divisions

  • and much more. See some Photos of the Horse that caused this journey, and the Float that had the Roof cut off on the Day she first hit Her Head as a two Year Old.

  • The first high tie up points

  • Air Flow systems

  • On Board Cameras

  • Led Lights

  • Reversing Cameras

  • and every enlarged Window in a Taylors Float in this Country, sparked by this Day.

    with this Float

Gainsborough Donner Bella, hitting Her Head on this Coachman, which was 2055mm High


This was my prototype for testing, for 5 Years, with 17 Hand Warmbloods.


Australia's first running boards on a Horse Float




Mail: horseproblems  at