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How Did the Horses Travel to the Olympics?

It was an extremely emotional moment when Nick Skelton jumped a third clear round and bagged the Olympic show jumping gold medal. At 58 years old, he was one of the oldest medallists and had achieved his life’s ambition. I, for one, had a tear in my eye watching the events unfold. But in the midst of all the excitement, I couldn’t help wondering how Team GB’s horses got to Rio in the first place. It is such a long journey but the horses needed to arrive fresh and ready for action. That's a lot of horse travel boots...

Flying High

The horses were flown to Rio in planes which had been specially fitted for equine passengers. Twelve flights from London Stansted transported the horses which would compete in the various equestrian disciplines including show jumping, eventing and dressage. The safe arrival of the horses was the responsibility of Peden Bloodstock, an international shipping agent with an excellent track record in co-ordinating the shipment of horses around the world.

The horses were loaded into special stalls which were then lifted onto the planes. Two horses travelled in each stall. Each horse travelled with the required equipment including water buckets and rugs.

In Flight Comfort, Meals and Horse Travel Boots

Clearly it was vital that the horses were comfortable in transit and that any health issues were spotted. 11 grooms travelled on each flight together with vet Luciana Martins. The equine in flight meal was and the horses had a good supply of fresh water. All in all the flights were more pleasant and comfortable for the horses than travelling in a horse box. Nonetheless, every possible precaution was taken to ensure that the horses were not injured. They all wore horse travel boots as even a small knock could have prevented them from competing.

The horses stood up for the duration of the flight and were not sedated. Horses do tend to become dehydrated during long haul flights but quickly recover once they have arrived at their destination. The temperature of the compartment in which they travelled was carefully controlled so that they remained comfortable. To prevent them from being traumatised by the flight, the pilots of the aircraft conducted a more gradual take off than usual and a longer landing so that the horses would not experience such dramatic deceleration.

Who Paid the Bill?

The costs of transporting the horses was met by the organising committee of Rio 2016. However, the national federations had to foot the bill for flying reserve horses and all of the human attendants. The horses did not need to be quarantined on arrival. Quarantine was avoided because the airport, the transport corridor and the completion area were all recognised as equine disease free zones. This had not been the case at previous Olympics and so the horses competing in Rio were more fortunate than their predecessors.

If you need horse travel boots for your horse then you will find a great selection to choose from at Equi Supermarket.


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