Older Discovery, Freelander or ?…

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  • Older Discovery, Freelander or ?…
  • We acquired a pony a few months ago – not that I wanted a pony, but it seems we now own one!

    Anyway – I know what is coming, not immediately, but it will come – the dreams of a mid-life crisis car will be steam rollered by the need for something to pull a horsebox!

    So for about 4k to 5k what would you buy? Disco’s seem to have high mileage at that price. And there seem to be a lot more Freelanders that have been polished every Sunday morning and never seen any mud.

    And are parts silly money or are there lots of pattern-parts available?

    I’m used to Ford servicing costs! 🙂


    How far do you want to take the Pony? Isn’t the point you can ride it somewhere 😉

    Do you need the 4×4 or just something that can tow? How big is your horse box?

    Premier Icon twistedpencil

    My Freelander was a money pit. It was the older model with the spare wheel on the back however.  Pretty much all the window actuators failed. Hoses on the engine would perish just by looking at them. Wheel bearings failed. Aircon never worked.  Loved new batteries.

    In the end it was held together with gaffer tape, cable ties and blu tac, with wooden struts holding the windows in place.

    Was over the moon when I got shot of it.

    Parts weren’t that expensive iirc.  Just needed a lot of them 🙂

    Premier Icon coopersport1

    I’d be looking for a well kept LWB Pajero, they go for ever and pull very well, you’d probably also have a decent amount of change. Freelanders never had a great rep for reliability and Discos for some reason hold silly money for a relatively high maintenance vehicle imo

    Premier Icon mattbee

    Having had both a 300tdi Disco and a td4 Freelander I’d have the Freelander over the Disco.

    The Kia Sorento I replaced the Freelander with was a far better vehicle though.


    The only thing more expensive to run than a horse is a sodding landrover of any type. Unless you like to spend your weekends fixing it yourself.

    Premier Icon timbog160

    If you want something cheap and reliable I wouldn’t touch a Land Rover product with a barge pole!

    but if you must a Freelander would prob be better value…

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    What’s the weight of horsebox loaded?


    African or european?

    Premier Icon hot_fiat

    Huh? I don’t know that.


    Shogun, Pajero, SSanyong thing. Anything other than a landrover badged heap.


    Original XTrails were good, should have the pick at that budget.

    As above, do you really need a 4×4? If yes, but not a real offroader how about a Legacy?

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    African or european?

    Just as long as it’s not dead… Or am I mixing my sketches again?

    Afaia, when it comes down to freelander vs discovery, the disco comes off far better in a crash.

    If you want a Ford prices get a Ford. The Kuga has a good rep for towing and the early ones should be in budget.

    Premier Icon garage-dweller

    matt oab – sketch mixing – I believe the reference is to the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow (Bridge of Death) not the mortality of a Norwegian blue parrot.

    In answer to the OP, is the answer not maybe a horsebox van thing, then you can still have a normal car?

    I think matt’s question about weights is key though. You need to do all your calculations around maximum train weights and maximum allowable mass and then your 85% rule of thumb that the Caravan Club suggests about towed weight to towing weight (forget which they use specifically) to give you an idea how much “tail wagging the dog” you might get.  We looked at buying a caravan a year or two back (oh the shame…) and I remember going through all this at the time but can’t remember all the details and calculations.

    You may also need to look at maximum trailer nose weights for any vehicle you are considering and here you might find 4×4’s and trucks/vans have greater tolerance than estate cars and the bigger ones the higher limits.

    Of course you could get yourself a nice lifestyle van to tow it with…

    Premier Icon Pz_Steve

    You need to be very careful around Gross Vehicle Weight and towing capacities.

    In the eyes of the law the weight you’re actually dragging around is irrelevant. It’s how much could you be towing. So, if your horse trailer has a gross weight of, say, 2700kg, then so must your tow-car. Even if the trailer is empty. (I know, and people say the law is an ass).

    Unless you buy a 1-horse trailer, you’re unlikely to have a gross trailer weight that’s legal behind a Freelander.

    Now a lot depends on how savvy the local BiBs are (or anyone else who might take an interest), but it’s worth knowing where you might stand should you be pulled over.

    As for your choice of vehicle? I have no direct experience, but as a died-in-the-wool LR fanboy, I’d still say steer clear of the green oval. I live and work in a farming community and have yet to meet anyone who’s had a reliable Landrover. Even the loyal devotees admit they’re generally a heap of slurry and a massive money pit. Whenever I’m tempted to scratch that itch I just have a chat with my brother in law (Discovery, in his case). Brings me to my senses in no time.

    Much though I hate to recommend such a source, the Horse and Hound forums are a good source of info/opinions on trailers & tow vehicles.

    Premier Icon hot_fiat

    Totally left field suggestion, but my mate’s dad wanted one of these to drag around his 1936 Lagonda. Braked towing weight of 2500kg. Not a land rover.

    Premier Icon garage-dweller


    I think the law you are referring to MIGHT have been fixed as regards towing capacity but not as regards licensing. I posted on the weights issue a year or so back and got these links in reply to that very point. As it was I never needed to bottom the issue out as we solved our problem boat movement another way but these were the links i was given<span style=”font-size: 0.8rem;”>:</span>


    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-horsebox-and-trailer-owners (MIGHT be out of date as its 2012)


    My old thread here: https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/towing-legalities-question/

     In the eyes of the law the weight you’re actually dragging around is irrelevant. It’s how much could you be towing. So, if your horse trailer has a gross weight of, say, 2700kg, then so must your tow-car. Even if the trailer is empty. (I know, and people say the law is an ass).

    As linked by garage-dweller, this is no longer the case – except if you have a post-’97 driving licence and are restricted to a 750 kg trailer.

    RE the original question, which generation of each vehicle are you looking at? £5k is more than enough for a good disco 2, probably borderline for a decent disco 3. Disco 3 aren’t the most reliable anyway, I’d take a good condition 2 over a 3 any day. 3’s are also outrageously heavy (2.7 tons IIRC) which isn’t going to help with ground loading in a wet field.

    You’ll get the full 3500 kg towing capacity with any disco, which is handy. Guess you don’t need that for a pony, but anything that can comfortably tow 3.5 tons will make short work of a smaller trailer.

    Freelander wise, towing capacities are lower, interior space is smaller. Assuming you’re looking at freelander 2, as freelander 1 is a bit old now at that sort of budget. FL1 is also a much smaller vehicle.


    You don’t need a proper 4×4 for towing a horse box. What is the access like to the stables? The only real issue is delivering food and hay if it’s a long walk across a field as the horse can be walked to the horse box and even then a decent wheel barrow is a lot cheaper than running a 4×4.

    For towing though a bigger car, and one with 4wd are better but all you need is something like a Volvo XC70, Subaru Legacy/Outback etc and those will be brilliant at coping with muddy riding gear and sacks of food as well as being pretty competent crossing a field should you need to as long as you put something half decent on the wheels.

    Next question is do you need a horse box? Will you be taking it to other places to ride? Have a look around for a smallish horse box. It can be tricky though, just like livestock trailers. We currently have a small 8x5ft Ifor trailer for sheep that we can legally tow with a FL1. It’s very light (old and no frills) and not plated (pre- ’88). We need to upgrade to something bigger, min 12ft, if not a 14ft, but that puts us in 3.1 to 3.5T category. I was going on the old rules of the plated weight being what you go on though but seeing the above link means we can at least get a larger trailer, just not fill it so I might be doing some maths to work out how many sheep we can legally tow and what wont put the FL under too much stress.

    The beauty of the FL is it’s light so with a post ’97 license I can tow 10 sheep (500kg) in a 600kg trailer and still be under the combined 3500kg limit. That said I will be doing my trailer test soon just to get it out of the way as the OH wants to replace the FL with something bigger as it does tend to get filled with farm crap and struggles a bit on the hill up to one of our fields when we get caught behind people going slow and the engine drops out of it’s torque band (auto box)

    Thanks all – some more research is needed then!

    Re 4×4 – it would be used to take the pony to horse shows and the like. The problem with these shows is they tend to be in fields (often wet fields!), so a 4×4 would be pretty much essential. A big exec car with low profile tyres would struggle.

    We did have a Disco and a trailer 20+ years ago when my wife used to ride, and I’ve got an old-farts driving licence so that isn’t an issue.

    As for the trailer – we’d probably borrow one from someone at the livery yard initially.

    I like Subarus (had 4), so may look at how much a Forester can tow.


    XC90 is popular with horsey types but as you already know it’s the tyres that matter. Too many 4x4s on summer road tyres.

    Do you have 2 cars in your household? is one barely used, if so then swap that to something for towing.

    The OHs FL gets used for her short commute (<15 mile round trip, and yes I have tried to get her to cycle!) and towing duties and taking the canoe down off local road tracks to launch in the river. My car (big estate) gets used for my long commute and trips etc.

    Good excuse for a campervan and trailer…it’s s horsebox at shows, lose the trailer and you can go on holiday 🙂

    Iveco Daily tow between 2800kg and 3500kg, only 2wd but I’ve been pulling horse boxes across fields for years, only had to be towed out once but so were Defenders, and I only got stuck as the trailer drawbar grounded out as we parked 🙂

    I think newer Transit and Sprinters have caught up now and offer similar towing capacity (on the correctly specced models). I really wanted an AWD Transit but it was too small as a camper.

    Nice idea spooky – we own a pony now – I have no money for holidays anymore! 🙂

    Premier Icon brassneck

    Nissan Pathfinder (or you might get away with X trail) – the older 2005 model (facelifted 2014) would be perfect, and likely cheaper than the LR options. Everyone I know with a LR regrets it, always seem very nice in it but seem to spend a lot of time being fixed for one issue or other.


    Also have a think if you’ll end up taking a friend to a show ie two horses …..it always happens. If so you’ll be needing some more grunt.  Most 4 x 4s will do one, not many will pull two  (and all the other crap on the car (riders x 2, driver, water, saddles etc) so if anything overbuy and pullnin comfort rather than killing an undepowered car up hills and across fields.

    Premier Icon mos

    Disco 3’s are nice (i had one) but a bit of a money pit.

    Suspension compressor

    Electronic Handbrake

    EGR Valves

    55 Plate Discovery 3 , bought it with 18000 miles on 11 months old now on 70000k plus a few more, never had a bill over £1000, had to fit a new battery, renew bushes front and rear,service kit on the compressor, a few tyres and just had front wheel bearings changed. That is pretty much it in nearly 12 years, it has been a joy to own and drive , Land Rovers aren’t all bad and money pits.

    Mates Freelander stopped on a Cornish hill with a caravan in tow, wouldn`t set off whatever he tried it just wanted to go backwards, farmer had to pull him up and over the top, to his and his families embarrassment, it was replaced with a Disco 3 in less than a week, which happily towed the caravan all round Europe for many years.


    ML is a good idea


    I’d be going for something like a shogun. Pretty sure you can get those at decent prices.  Steer clear of the Landrover! Forget the large luxury car idea, they aren’t practical for the rest of the gubbins or getting yourself out of the field. Additionally, don’t get a fake 4×4 like a Kuga, you’ll end up with the worst of all worlds!

    Also the advice on making sure you can pull max weight is a good idea, you will end up going with another reluctant horse owner at some point. It saves costs so makes sense.

    Something a little agricultural is now a good idea. The car will get trashed so don’t be precious about it but leather seats are also a must – need to wipe off the horse crap!

    As another reluctant horse owner I must say you have my sympathies. Kiss goodbye to your weekends!


    check your driving license. Mine is post ’97

    Paradoxically I can tow a caravan with a skoda fabia estate, but not a freelander 2

    Whats the total towed weight? If a lightweight horse then you may need to get a trailer plated down to be allowed to tow it. Or if a heavy horse then you might only be able to tow it with a small car.


    Octavia scout?


    Why not a honda crv – available in petrol and diesel. Mark 2 version – available in petrol and diesel. Very reliable – easily under £5k.


    Much like trail rat I’m a huge life long landrover victim.

    And when my better half got a pony it seemed a good excuse to get a defender ( td5 ). It’s tows very well but cost more to look after than her horses.

    In the end she bought proper 7.5 t horse box for 4K and it’s been good , much easier than towing the ifor was. But you need a pre 97 licence and mot cost are a more money but over all cheaper than the defender ever is

    [iI]Bu you need a pre 97 licence and mot cost are a more money but over all cheaper than the defender ever is[/i]

    A pre ’97 license holder would need a new test for either a horse trailer (unless you really compromise on tow car and trailer) or a 7.5t. A B+E and a C1 cat license are similar in cost and the C1 is just a standard single range gearbox.

    Iveco Daily go up to 6.5t (7t for a recent model) so you can have a mid size horsebox without having to go to a big cab over style lorry that’s 25 years old and get a better payload. They are very popular as horseboxes.

    A pre ’97 license holder would need a new test for either a horse trailer (unless you really compromise on tow car and trailer) or a 7.5t. A B+E and a C1 cat license are similar in cost and the C1 is just a standard single range gearbox.

    So even with an old-farts licence I’d have to take a new test!! (I passed my test in 1986).

    RAC advice seems to disagree though…

    If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997 you’re generally allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM, but you should double check here what your licence allows you to tow.

    To be honest it’s all getting too complicated – the wife can swap her car – I’m going to look at Mazda MX5s on Autotrader! 🙂

    Sorry, my phone keyboard is up the spout, took me ages to type that earlier.  It should say “post ’97 license holder would need a new test…”

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