Terms to understand when looking at horse floats for sale

COMMON FLOAT MANUFACTURING TERMS AND WHAT THEY MEAN When researching the variety of horse floats for sale. Many terms are used in the advertisement that are common but are not necessarily well understood. Below are some common terms that you might come across when looking at horse floats for sale.


Galvanising is a process that applies a zinc coating to steel or iron to prevent rusting. The process can occur by either electroplating or hot dip zinc coating. The difference between the two is that hot dipping produces a thicker zinc coating than electroplating. When an item is hot dipped, it is dipped into a vat of molten Zinc, which adheres to the surface of the item. The zinc then produces a product called Zinc Carbonate which sticks to the zinc and protects the iron from corrosion. Not all floats are made from galvanised steel. Galvanising is a critical factor in the longevity of your float.


The strength of various forms of timber is determined in terms of “stress grades” and these stress grades are determined either mechanically or visually. Stress grades rate the timber according to its strength and this “grade” indicates the suitable uses of the timber. For a timber to have the highest grading of F17, it must meet certain criteria, which relates to knots and timber veins. The number in the ‘F’ refers to the working stress in bending, such as F14, or 14 megapascals of pressure.

Marine ply is a water resistant timber product made from bonded (glued) multiple layers of sheeting and in the case of horse float flooring has a rating of F17. These very strong layers are bonded together in alternating directions, which further increases the strength of the finished product. Once the gluing is completed, the sheets are pressed together under extreme pressure and heat, producing an extremely strong product.


The term “Hardwood” does not refer to the density of the timber, but to the type of tree. Hardwood timber originates from trees that are deciduous (lose their leaves annually) such as Oak, Birch, Cherry or Ash. Softwood timbers are evergreen trees.

Typically Hardwood is denser and harder than softwood, as the name suggests but there are exceptions to the rule, such as Balsa wood. Hardwood is used for construction, flooring, joinery and furniture.


Roller Rocker Suspension is a load sharing suspension that ensures a smooth transfer from front to rear axel. This reduces vibration and pitching of your horse float, giving your horse a more comfortable ride.

Roller Rocker suspension uses leaf springs but the difference is that the ends of the springs are conjoined on a moving rocker which allows the forces from one axel to be shared by the other.


A break–away unit is an emergency safety-net which is activated if your float comes away from your car. The Break-away unit will activate your float’s electric brakes, slowing your float down and reducing the risk of a catastrophe. The unit is charged by your car’s Auxiliary power (you must check that your car has AUX power in order to keep the Break-away unit battery charged) and usually located inside your float. Each time you take a trip with your float, you should check the charge of your BA unit by pressing the “charge” button.

A wire line runs from the BA unit and should be fixed to your car and not to any part of your tow bar. This wire is attached to an external unit, usually mounted on the draw bar. If the wire is pulled, the pin is released which activates the battery, which, in-turn, activates the brakes and brake lights.

Break-away units must be fitted on all floats that have an Aggregate Trailer Mass of over 2,000kg


Auxiliary power is constant power from the vehicle to the float and is normally powered via the 2nd pin on your tow bar power connector. AUX power runs the 12v accessories of your float such as your break-away unit, water pump, fridge, cameras etc. If the car is not fitted with AUX power, none of these components will work. Note – AUX power has nothing to do with electric brakes. If your car is fitted with an electric brake controller, it does not necessarily have AUX power.

Your local Auto Electrician can easily fit AUX Power to your car or test your car to determine whether it is currently fitted.

Usually, all of the interior lights in the float are run from the car’s head lights.

ATM is an acronym for Aggregate Trailer Mass. This term refers to the combined weight of both your float and its load. It is important not to exceed the ATM of your float, as the axels will be rated to carry a limited weight.

Tare is the actual weight of your float when it is empty. This will be listed on the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) plate, which is usually located on the draw bar of your float.

GCM is the Gross Combined Mass. This is the maximum your vehicle, float, occupants and contents can weight. This information is found in your car’s specification sheet.


Box section refers to the shape of steel used for structural sections of the float such as the flooring. Box section, is as the name suggests, is a square/rectangle length of tubing. Box section is stronger than angle iron and is the preference for load bearing structures such as the Chassis. Angle iron is a longitudinal section of a square length of steel tubing. Imagine slicing length ways a square tube to produce two half sections – some manufacturers may use angle iron in order to get twice as much tubing out of one RHS length.

RHS is an acronym for Rolled Hollow Section. This refers to the steel used for structural sections of the float such as the draw bar. RHS is high strength cold-formed structural hollow sections of steel that are Hot-dip galvanized. The external zinc coating of the steel then has a coating applied to improve resistance to rusting and improve the adhesion of paint and powder coatings.

Hopefully these explanations have demystified some of common terms often referred to and has made researching your new float a little bit easier!

Happy travels!