2008 Olympic Games: FEI Discusses Transport of Horses

The Veterinary Committee and the Welfare Sub Committee of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) had a meeting March 19 to discuss transport issues concerning the 2008 Olympic Games. The meeting was attended by Martin Atock, appointed transporter and managing director of Peden Bloodstock, and the FEI Directors of the Veterinary and Olympic Departments.

The attendees discussed flight schedules, arrival times, and the related competition dates.

In the interest of a safe competition and an optimal transport, the Veterinary Committee has advised--parallel to the pre-Atlanta research outcome--that the horses arrive approximately 10 days prior to competition. This will enable a thorough flight recovery and give the horses a fair chance to get used to the HKG climatic conditions. It also leaves room for treatment in case any horse suffers from travel sickness or minor injury in flight. At the moment, flying schedules are being designed to adhere as closely as possible to the 10-day period, although this will not be possible in each case. Further discussions are required to define the optimal stable temperature in air-conditioned stables and the temperature phases leading from horse arrival to competition (e.g. start with a cool temperature and gradually increase in the days leading up to competition). The test event will help in this evaluation.

At the moment it looks like most of the horses will travel to HKG in combi flights; this creates more room for transport of grooms, gives more flexibility in flight scheduling, but causes some problems in terms of unloading the horses and the aircraft turnover time. This issue is being given urgent attention as the time from aircraft to air-conditioned lorries/stables at the venue is one of the most important factors in preventing post flight fever and has a major effect on post flight recovery of the horses.

For the future it is recommended that the FEI is represented during discussions between the allocated horse transporter and the representatives of the Beijing Organizing Committee, Hong Kong Jockey Club, and airport authorities, when transport issues are discussed.

The FEI is planning to organize a seminar on Competition and Transport issues in heat and humid conditions at the beginning of 2008, during which the findings from the test event will be discussed with any involved party. This seminar will be open to all interested.

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