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Plenty of room to horse around - published courtesy of The Southland Times
17 February 2005

It's a ground-breaking, moving monument to a Kiwi family's horseriding lifestyle. JEREMY ROBINSON steps inside the Spain family horse coach.

Why drive a truck pulling a horse flo
Fergus Spain relaxing in the living space of his luxury horse coach

FANCY FLOAT: Fergus Spain relaxing in the living space of his luxury horse coach. The seat back at right folds down to give access to the truck cab.

Republished courtesy of The Southland Times Photo ROBYN EDIE/SouthlandTimes

at the length and breadth of the South Island with your wife and kids when you can put in all together in a single package � a state-of-the-art luxury mobile home and horse transporter?

The Southland Times caught up with Woodlands showjumper Fergus Spain a few days after he drove his new horse coach south from specialist coach renovator Greg Lysaght, of Ashburton.

It's every horse lover's dream.

A Swiss army-type truck of fold-away innovations and conveniences for human and horse alike, and it's been Fergus and Michelle Spain's long-time dream.

The Spain-mobile made its first appearance in Dunedin two weeks ago at the South Island showjumping championships.

The couple had owned four horse transporters but wanted one custom built to their needs, Mr Spain said.

"It had always been our dream to go and build the ultimate.

"And so many people do these things when their kids are grown up but it's too late by then because the kids don't even want to come along."

So with Tait, 4, and 10-month-old Logan's comfort in mind (and the horses of course) the Spains set out to build the ultimate travel vehicle.

The result is a jaw-dropping tribute to travel innovation.

The 1991, V10 Isuzu, which has 305 horses up front to beat the hills with a load of five horses in the back, had been imported as a freight truck.

But it was dismantled and moulded to the Spain's dream specifications to ensure family comfort, whether that's on a showjumping trip to Canterbury or a family holiday to the West Coast.

And this beauty can fit a lot of family.

Eight members of the Lysaght design team worked for more than five months to make sure every aspect of space in the 12-tonne, 3.9m high and 11.5m long horse coach was put to good use.

The Ashburton-based company has been specialising more and more in horse transport renovations for five years and co-owner Greg Lysaght reckoned the team had completed up to 20 similar projects.

"(The culture) has always been there but until now it's mostly been in the North Island.

"But now there are about three or four (companies) in the South Island doing it to make a living."

The lifestyle projects could range from the entry level of about $65 000 to "sky is the limit", Mr Lysaght said.

Retractable stairs lead up to the living area at the front of the coach, juct behind the cab.

The entrance door leads into a centrally heated area something like an oversize caravan, which has vinyl flooring and large vinyl upholstered couches around a small central table.

The living space is decked out in contrasting warm colours of aubergine and orangey-red.

"It's all designed for comfort and low maintenance washing," Mr Spain said.

The couches fold out into beds while the main super king-sized sleep space is above the driver's cab.

One of the couch backs fold down to give access through to the cab from the living area, so the family is all together on the road.

The kitchen area is surrounded by swags of cupboard and storage space.

Solar-power roof tiles provide the energy for lighting and a retractable sound and entertainment system, while gas powers the oven, stove and fridge.

An 800-litre under-floor water tank supplies the sink, shower and toilet.

An air-tight retractable door at the rear of the living compartment leads back to the rubber-surfaced horse area, which is lined with storage.

This stable area can fit five of the lucky beasts.

Outdoor storage at the rear of the coach also hold saddlery, alongside a temperature-adjustable hose to wash the horses.

This outdoor area is covered by a large fold-out shade canopy.

Extra storage under the roof and floor was allowed for the Spains to just "chuck the stuff in and go".

And what do the horses think of it?

"I don't know whether they could care less; they weren't as happy as we were."

Mr Spain said he had his wife made sure to look at plenty of other modern horse coaches so they didn't leave anything out, and Mr Lysaght was more than happy to push the boundaries.

"It took a huge amount of design time because everything was so different," Mr Spain said.

"But you work hard all week so why struggle for comfort in the weekend and then go back to work. Why not do it?"

And how much could something like this set the average bloke and his family back.

"You can have one just like it, you just have to blow a lot of money," Mr Spain said, without putting an actual figure on the cost .

The exit sign above the door says it all: "Thank you for your gold coin."

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