Equestrian competitions are back in action in Australia, with riders returning in droves after two years of postponements and cancellations. As we hit the road with our horses, it pays to pause and think about the trip ahead: will your horse arrive at its destination feeling fresh, happy and ready to perform? There’s a reason elite human athletes rarely travel cattle class.
The team at THEAULT are dedicated to creating innovative equine transport solutions that put the comfort and wellbeing of your horses first. Based in Normandy, France, the company was founded in 1924 by Émile Theault, who originally produced horse-drawn carriages before progressing into motorised horse transport. By the 1950s the company’s focus on constant improvement and modernisation was made evident by its launch of a rear-facing, side-ramp horsebox – the first of its kind.
“Horses travel better facing backwards,” explains Luis Verbeeck, THEAULT’s Australian Sales Representative. “They find their balance better and will lean on the bulkhead (the wall separating the cabin from the horse part) when you must brake, resulting in less stress.”
It’s clever design details such as this that have made the company a global success story; their boxes and horse trucks are available in 18 countries, including Australia. Each of the 450+ horseboxes made by THEAULT each year is entirely built in Normandy by a passionate team of individuals who uphold the traditional, artisanal approach and principles on which the company’s reputation has been built. This passion for the brand – and the industry – extends to sales representatives such as Luis, who has been immersed in the equestrian industry since childhood.
“My mother was a vet and I caught the horse bug at a young age,” he explains. “I competed in showjumping at international level, and then moved to Normandy for my studies and to be at the heart of the French horse industry.” Normandy is home to numerous prestige studs, shows and sales, and is universally known as France’s equestrian epicentre.
Luis has always worked within the industry and had criss-crossed the country onboard his own THEAULT long before he flew to Australia to represent the company Down Under. “Many of my colleagues back in France ride, breed or race horses. It’s important to have a horse understanding and it is this passion that drives us at THEAULT to constantly bring innovations to improve the system.”
FOR THE HORSES
The company – which boasts clientele including Penelope Leprevost, Roger-Yves Bost, Mark Todd, Nicolas Touzaint, Gregory Wathelet, Patrick Kittel and Dorothee Schneider – has long requested user feedback to continuously develop and improve. Not every horse travels the same, whether it’s due to their morphology or personality; THEAULT recognises this and their designs evolve accordingly.
The company’s flagship model, the PROTEO Switch, and it’s luxury counterpart, the MORPHEO, are results of this. Their popular internal patented modular system allows horse owners to choose between eight different configurations, ensuring suitability for horses of all breeds, sizes and temperaments.
Ensuring your horse travels comfortably is an important part of equine management. “The distances that have to be covered in Australia to compete… one would argue transport is even more important here than in Europe where in Belgium or France, for example, you would have access to so many shows within a 100km radius,” explains Luis. “We train hard with our horses, and we want them to arrive at events fresh and ready to give their best.”
THEAULT’s PROTEO Switch is not only made to suit horses’ preferred ways of travelling but is also constructed to put their comfort first. “The horse part is fully insulated as we use sandwich aluminium panels to build them, resulting in regulated temperatures and less noise for your horses while you travel.” And of course, safety is at the forefront of THEAULT’s designs: the PROTEO Switch offers a low centre of gravity, with the weight spread in between the wheels for better stability on the road – offering superior manoeuvrability should you need to swerve or brake suddenly, and therefore making it much safer to drive. In addition, a camera fitted in the horse section allows constant monitoring during transit.
The benefits are not just confined to the horses; comfort and ease of use has not been spared for humans, either. Requiring only a standard driving licence, the PROTEO Switch is compact and drives like a car with everything contained within the one vehicle. No time is wasted hitching and unhitching as you would with a float, while a reversing camera makes it no harder than a van or 4WD to park at events.
“From a loading and unloading perspective, this process through our side ramp is so much easier and safer,” notes Luis. “Once horses are schooled properly it is a system where everything can pretty much be done by one person.” The cabin space is available with three or five seats, and as an option there are swivel front seats with a removable table and bench seat folding to bunk beds for complete comfort and convenience while away from home.