Scania horse truck

By: Craig Silby, Photography by: Craig Silby

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One family’s solution to the show jumping season combines luxury, motorhome-style living with a practical space for up to six horses and their equipment. We check out the ultimate in accommodation for horses and their owners.

Scania horse truck
Scania horse truck
  • Hydraulic slide-outs extend living area to almost 4m
  • Sleeps eight people
  • Modern, apartment-like interior
  • Effortless to drive
  • Plenty of lockers and compartments, including bike storage

Karen Burnett and her daughters Hannah and Briar love their horses, and attend up to 15 show jumping events each season all over the country.

The family now has a truck that ensures they and their valued horses travel safely in superb comfort. Once they are at a show the horses are housed in yards or stables.

Until recently Karen and the girls had a Mitsubishi Fighter that could carry five horses, and it had a comfortable accommodation area. But now that Hannah and Briar have three horses each it was time to get a bigger truck.

They considered lots of options but Karen wanted a Scania. "In the horse world Scania is the pinnacle [a revelation that must bring total joy to CablePrice beancounters. Ed. It’s what you see at all the horse events in Europe and I found out you can get them with an auto transmission – just perfect for me."

Karen discussed her options with CablePrice’s Napier salesman Paul Roche, who liaised with Andy Wright at Classic Horse Coaches in Dannevirke. The end result is this magnificent beast I tested at its home in Taupo.

The base chassis is a Scania G 380 LB 6x2MNB with the CG19 sleeper cab. The truck was custom specified ex-factory to suit the role. Particular attention was paid to the suspension to make sure the ride was as plush as possible for both humans and horses. Paul spec’ed air suspension for all axles (including the front steer axle), which allows Karen to separately adjust the ride height front and rear, and provides a magic carpet-like experience on the highway.

"The auto is probably the best feature in terms of driving the truck," says Karen. "I was absolutely amazed that I could just jump in and drive the truck all the way back to Taupo from Hawke’s Bay, no problem at all."

The 12-speed Opticruise automated transmission is mated to a Scania multi-stage hydraulic retarder. When these features are used in conjunction with the cruise control and downhill speed control there is not a lot left for the driver to do other than watch the surroundings and steer. The computers take over and progress the truck safely along in a very efficient manner.

The truck is utterly effortless to drive except for the fact it is so large – you need to keep your wits about you when manoeuvring around tight spaces. Rear view mirrors are excellent with a wide field of view, though you need to get used to their concave shape which slightly distorts the distances.

The cab interior has been fitted with leather, multi-adjustable seats on both sides and has a monitor set-up above the windscreen that can remotely show the horse compartment, or the rear view for help with reversing. There’s an access port/hatch set into the rear wall of the cab to allow free access to and from the living quarters. This has a seal that can move with the cab so it can move independently of the truck body on its air suspension.

Moving down the left side, beside the entry door is a compartment that opens to reveal a BBQ that slides out; beside that is another compartment with a small fridge, a sound system and several storage lockers. Above is a roll-out awning.

Around the other side are more lockers – there’s even one specifically designed to take a small motorbike.

The whole rear panel cantilevers down to make a ramp for the horses at the back of the motorhome. A ladder attached to the back of the ramp gives access to roof storage, where up to 14 bales of hay can be carried. Up the ramp through the rear is secure accommodation for up to six horses. This is climate-controlled, has hot and cold running water and can be monitored via the in-cab rear view monitor.

The interior

Before entering the living area via the fold-away staircase, you extend the hydraulic slide-out compartments each side, giving an almost 4m wide living space inside.

"You can buy ready-built, pop-out units from overseas that bolt right in, but for this job we custom made our own hydraulic system so that we could give Karen exactly what she wanted," says Andy Wright.

Inside is a luxurious apartment suite. To the left is the open space offered by the two pop-out wall units. The left unit contains a stylish, modern kitchen with full-size fridge/freezer and large-screen TV above; the right pop-out unit contains a booth-type leather lounge area with table and stools. All furnishings and fittings are of the highest standard.

Ahead is the hatch to the cab interior. Above it, in the Luton, is a double bed with windows to the front and sides and a pop-up hatch that gives more space and light. There’s room to sleep up to eight people in the motorhome.

Across from the entrance is the bathroom, with a single bed above. It is easily as big as a standard, domestic en suite and has very high quality features and fittings.

The family is fully self-contained on-site with all the home comforts. The horses have everything they need and everyone can enjoy their summer travels. Karen thinks they have at least another six years of it ahead.

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