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How do horses get transported to Olympics?

Find out how the equestrian horses will be transported halfway across the world for the Tokyo Olympics.

Indian Equestrian Fouaad Mirza

Fouaad Mirza- Indian equestrian 


C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 7 July 2021 5:44 AM GMT

One of the burning issues that often go missing in the run-up to the Olympics is the logistics of transporting equipment to the Olympic venue. While a majority of athletes have easily portable equipment with them, there are also many others who have a long journey to the Olympics village. One such event is the Equestrian event that is one of the most logistically complicated events to organize. The most crucial partner for any rider is his or her horse and this is exactly why understanding how the horse is transported for the final event is important.

Airport Check-IN

It might seem strange but even horses require some form of identification at the airport. Each horse has an approved passport and identification papers that are expected to be shown prior to boarding. Moreover, horses are expected to show up at the airport several hours before the scheduled flight in order to have medical checkups by qualified vets. Once this is done, they are lead from the terminal to the boarding gate and subsequently into their respective stall in the cargo hold. These stalls are lowered to the ground level in order to not frighten the horses into climbing great heights. Once the horse is secured, the stall is then lifted back up into the plane.

One of the many stalls (Source: Hoof-it)

In-Flight Experience

References can be made to the Rio Olympics that had several notable stories on how horses are transported to the Olympic venue. There are special planes designed to hold animals in the cargo hold for long journeys. One such airline that has done so is Emirates. It has a simulated horse stall built in an Emirates Skycargo Boeing 777 freight plane that has room for several horses, hay stacks, horse feed and also for horse caretakers who are specially trained to be alongside the horses during the course of the flight. Each horse is allocated one stall and is taken care of with a regular supply of food and water in the space of 112 cm that is provided. The temperature is regulated in the cabin and horses are also provided with ample space within the confinement of the cabin hold. Weight is not an issue for the plan given that it is designed to hold several tons of luggage. The estimated weight of each horse is around 1130 pounds. This is added on to their individual requirements of hay, water, food etc that might amount to more than 25 tons of weight from the presence of several horses alone.

The stalls being carried upwards (Source: The Horse)

Health Considerations

The pilots take extra caution during the landing in order to allow the horses to not be affected by the sudden descent. The hay that is provided is not completely dry in order to allow for adequate hydration during the course of the flight. Horses are provided with coats in case there is a temperature drop and have enough standing space to sleep off if need be. The temperature is constantly monitored during the entire flight as well.

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