The concept of travelling horses facing the rear of the vehicle was first developed by Theault in the early 1960's with the first vehicle released in 1961 on a Citroen HY chassis.
Over the years this concept has become increasingly popular throughout Europe and beyond with the majority of compact 2-stall horse trucks of this type on the road today stalled for the horses to face the rear. There have been several studies into the best orientation of travel for horses which have concluded that rear-facing is the most beneficial.
Perhaps the best of these was one carried out by the University of California Davis in the mid-1990's and looked in to the physiology, balance and management of the horse during transport. The study concluded that horses travelling facing the rear showed a significant decrease in heart-rate compared to those tested travelling in other orientations. Travelling facing the rear horses demonstrated a better balance and fewer signs of stress.
Environment - The horses travel facing into a lighter, less chlostrophobic space with better ventilation than when travelling either forward-facing or in oblique stalling. Theault have designed the ventilation in their trucks to provide the horses with efficient, adjustable ventilation and to prevent cross-draughts.
Balance - Horses balance naturally using their hind quarters. By natural instinct to turn their back ends on anything that provides discomfort or a threat. By travelling facing the rear they are better able to absorb the negative energies provided by braking and acceleration and therefore balance better. It also provides the possibility for horses to stand with their front-legs further apart therefore further improving balance.