John O'Leary








Go to the bottom of the page to look at the results of these years.

from this


to this




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 2050mm or less

  • They all have dangerous fixings

  • Almost all Tow Bar A Frames are open, to break Legs

  • 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.

  • Every Float in Australia is too Low. The Warmblood revolution has not been identified

  • Running Boards hadn't been invented, sharp Mudguards and locations to break Legs

  • Spare Tires located alongside tying up Points, ready to Hang Horses

  • 100% of Back Ramp Fixings are highly dangerous and injuring Horses regularly

  • Many Centre Divisions extend too low or all the way and cause Wall Climbers

  • Most Door Handles and other fixings are dangerous, waiting to hook rope Halters etc.

  • NO Chest Bars are removable, even though they think they are.

  • All tie up points were too low, allowing ropes beneath unprotected Mudguards........and much more........

  • Door Handles inside Floats we poised to trap lead ropes and the advent of Rope Halters

  • Back Legs on Centre Divisions, to trip up horses leaving, making them hit the Head panic in future

  • Many with Mini Windows to cater for the 'flight animal'....and much more......




It all started this Day

Due to our prize 2 Year Old Warmblood, hitting Her Head on the first every trip in her Coachman here, to Her first ever Show, I grabbed a Cut Off Saw and the Roof was completely cut off within 30 Minutes and I began thinking about the future of Float height in this Country.

I came up with this for Her, otherwise, Her Career would have been over, by raising the roof Height 300mm from what it was. Now to 2350mm, meaning prior it was 2050mm



This meant that I had the opportunity of testing hundreds of Horses in this Float. They all voted with their Hooves. Even re-educators that they couldn't get on Horse Floats, would walk on this one after taking a look for a minute or two.


a comparison of what was in our Park at that time. **Note, the Blue one had already been extended as a result, the width of the new chrome. The Olympic on the left was the norm.

Mine ( now painted on the right)


Over the next 10 Years, Float Companies went to 2200mm then a few went to "extended Floats'  .... being 2250mm but then my Clients started driving them and demanding more.   ( They called them "Warmblood Floats: hahahaha.

A couple went to the Buyers request, 2350mm and a couple to 2400mm.


They had forgotten we were entering the era of the Warmblood Horses.

  15.2hh on a 2050 Holdfast Float


LESS STRESS due to view


My observations of the greatly lessened stress in this Float, together with them looking out the side all the time, taught me that Horses needed to see from a wider field of view. Prior to this Day, ALL Horse Floats on the Planet, had a maximum of this

 meaning that Horses had a great view of the Tow Bar. All Horses over around 14.3hh, only could look at the front Wall, above the Window. ( Thankfully, most have copied us since)




Here is our Stallion,  and our competition Horses could even identify locations as they even identify locations as they


 arrived. 17.1 Hands.




This was the Window on all Wooden Floats in this Country. Horses Heads were up in the Roof.


Note the open tow bar...more about that later..




I had a Young Horse come for re-education. The Float and the Horse were covered in Blood


The 'Non Horsey Dad' (who take advice better than most in the Industry) took the Float Home

He came back 2 Days later with this, the first alteration to such Floats. Note the original window below


 ...the Horse never climbed the Walls again!....and People started to think about these things.



Very soon and over the following Years, this Wooden Float above, got changed by many Owners as they saw others changing.






 and I smile every time I see another :)








On July 30th, 2000, we came up with the first 'Running Board' on a Horse Float. Due to the many injuries that I had witnessed, where Legs were cut to the Bone and Lead Ropes were trapped beneath them.

I welded it onto this Float ( the one with the roof off) Coachman, which had none of course, as none did.





Across Australia, 100% of Horses were cutting their Legs badly on Mudguards that were all like Razors, including one Brand new JR Traveller that pulled into my Drive one day, the Owner had padding tied to it as his Horse had been injured on the first use. (note no running boards) and razor sharp aluminum rolled mudguard.....


and no running boards


Horses were also getting injured in Car Crashes ( note no running boards)

so we came up with these.


that Legs would be safe around..........which brought us to the safety of Horses travelling. We invented a more powerful Mudguard, for the safety of the Float, horses and to stop cutting of Legs.



Travelling at 100k in Night, with two Warmbloods in, a Person drove straight out in front of us.

The right Hand Mudguard wrote his Car off




and the left hand Mudguard shifted the Highway Department Light Pole, 6 inches to the left in it's hole and left it standing.






They were all Wife warned a Lady, at the One Tree Hill Riding Club, that she should get hubby to cover the Draw Bar for Her Horse was in Danger....


The following Weekend, Her Horse was trapped in Her Draw Bar, at the Kings Road Hack Show, with a Broken Leg, for 90 Minutes, in front of the Crowd. ....and so others started to get the message




We then started looking at the whole Picture, for no attention had ever been given to Horse Safety or Psychology, by any Manufacturer, prior. The list got made.


  • Horses going through front Windows

  • Horses ripping themselves open in all manner of places on their Bodies, via sharp and dangerous design features.

  • Horses getting hung up over Chest Bars

  • Chest Bars that were impossible to remove when a Horse was on it

  • Tying up points that were too low, causing ropes to get hooked below Mudguards

  • Spare Wheels alongside tie up points, to hang Horses.

  • Back Ramp Latches to cut eyes open.( Human and Horse)

  • Horses falling off the sides of back ramps.

  • and much more...........



Yes, I have a hundred or so photos, from the 'Coal Face' of the Industry, our Life.





Being a very busy 'Problem Horse Trainer' I experienced many things. The Mind Boggles. Horses through front Windows, and one Night, with the 2 Year Old Quarter Horse, just before Dark, 300k from Home, (yes they said he floated well), I drove 10 Metres, with an Open Float and he took off.........his two Hind Hoofs landed on the Chest Bar and he took off again, straight over the top front of the Float, pivoting with two Legs above the Tow Bar and two inside the Float. Luckily, my experience gave me an instant reaction, to slap Him across the Snout and he fell back down into the Float, IN FRONT OF THE CHEST BARS...which were welded solid!!!!!!!!!!!

How do we get him out? .......luckily, the Manufacturer of my Open Float, had full height Doors, one on each side yet and I simply walked him out. Hardly a scratch on Him.




That Night, I lay on my Pillow and came up with the first 'Safety Belts for Horses' and the next Day, installed them in that Old Float. Went back and Got the Colt, who attempted to leap again, only once and travelled Home like a Baby. Since then, I have saved at least 50 other Young Horses from the same fate.







There were none. Only this


This is not one. Put a Horse on top of it and see how You go...apart from being killed in the process, try and remove the Pin!


Would You believe, it happened to me. Frightening but I was thankful to test the system.

I brought this one Home from my Melbourne Clinic. Yes, Warmblood.


Yes, she had Her Safety Belts on but was an A.D.D. Child. We slowed for Road Works, she got bored and began to remove Horse Rugs from the Rug Rack above. One fell down and unclipped Her quick release Safety Belts and then....yes......jumped the Chest Bar and was Hung up.

I simply got out of the Vehicle and lowered Her to the Ground like a Baby, from outside the Float


I could go on all Day, with other improvements, for we went the full suite. The Safest Design available.



IRONICALLY - 2 LETTERS TODAY...... 19th Nov. 2017

Subject: Possible legal advice
Message: Good afternoon I have been advised that you may be able to offer legal advice. I recently booked my mare to go to a stud for breeding but advised I would need to source transport. The stud owner confirmed that she would collect the mare on my behalf. The mare loaded in the float and procodeded to jump over the chest bar and cast herself in the front of the float. We attempted to remove her but unfortunately she had to be put down. She was so badly wedged that she had to be cut up to be removed from the float. The float received damage so I enquired about insurance. I was advised that it was uninsured and also didnít belong to her. I have now been advised that I need to pay $3700 for repairs. I am not sure if I am legally responsible to pay for the float given she didnít disclose it was uninsured. I morally feel obligated and am willing to contribute but am unhappy with the handwritten quote and blasť correspondence from the stud owner. She is now Referring me to speak with the flor owner. ! Are you able to assist with some advice? And if so, what are your charges? Kind regards, Lana



Hi I have just read your page on the net. We picked up our imported 3yo, who had travelled without incident up until today. I even had the sellers take video of the horse loading, unloading, independent observation of stress signs after floating- minimal. The horse had always been in trucks or small trucks ( Beckmann) I think.

 I assumed he would be fine in a straight loading float. Iím still shaking, he got through the chest bar ( Chriss) and ended up standing sideways at front of float. We found a horse property, got him off and reloaded , thinking it was just a freak thing. As soon as I closed the door he went over the chest bar but it didnít give and he was sitting with front feet up like a dog.

We managed to undo, release, dismantle the insides of float so he could get out- felt quite sick. He is now at a good samaritans waiting for a truck. Please help? Where are you located? Can he be trained to accept straight loading floats?







but now they have come up with another one


   See on most Floats now......I must start my critiques again :)


I will reserve our design on this one though.




please have a look at some of the rough copy that I wrote down as we went through the Years.





Minimum Rough guide to Height.


  • 16hh and above - Minimum of 2250
  • 17 hh and above - 2350


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

  • They all have dangerous fixings

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

  • None have have worked out the one big secret.



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.

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

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.

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


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.


See the danger here?

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.

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.



I've got Thousands of Photos, of all the Companies. None of them are exempt. Most didn't tried and almost all were dragged kicking and screaming to change.

My thanks to all my Clients, who forced many to change but offering Money to get those changes.



Many Years ago, I was invited to a Engagement Party out in the Sticks. I was introduced to a Bloke who only wanted to talk Horse Floats....for Hours........

Not long after, I started a Float Company called Unicorn :)

So for amusement, I got the opportunity to have a crack at Him, for this :)



For the Horses





Mail: horseproblems  at