Flying a horse to Rio

Horses bound for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are loaded on to an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F at London Stansted Airport. On the flight were 34 horses from 10 of the nations competing in Equestrian at Rio 2016 - 29 July 2016 - Pic Jon Stroud

Have you ever wondered how ‘they’ get the horses to Rio for the Olympics? Who are ‘they’, is it traumatic for the horses? How long does it take? Are the horses ok?!

Well here’s an insight into the journey a competing horse might take from the UK to Rio, a 12 hour flight. The people we refer to as ‘They’ are veterinary professionals, grooms, security, pilots, even owners and riders travel to the airport to check their best friend is looked after.

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The team who spend between 24-48 hours travelling the horses completely care for their wellbeing. They want the horses to be as relaxed as possible, 1. It prevents any injury to the horse 2. It’s safer for everyone 3. The horses need to compete when they arrive!

The grooms are with the horses from the moment they leave their yard in the UK to when they arrive in Rio which is a lovely touch. After all, the grooms have most likely been looking after these horses for years, they know them inside out, they have a special bond and this can help with reducing the anxiety levels of the horse.

Most horses are seasoned travellers so they are quite comfortable getting in and out of lorries, travelling for long hours, being in a horse stall and most travel extremely well. On the odd occasion there may be a slightly nervous horse, the travelling vets will sedate them to ensure they have as peaceful travelling experience as possible.

During the flight the team of carers keep a close eye on the horses, constant check ups to ensure all is well.

Once the horses arrive in Rio, they are immediately assessed before they are taken on to their home for the next month.

When we think of Rio we think of the main events, but so much organisation, planning and commitment from the whole team goes in to even getting the horses to Rio. It’s a time when the unrecognised should be recognised, the grooms and team around them!

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