Four-legged frequent flyers – at home all over the world
Be it Miami, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Shanghai, Osaka, Athens, Paris, Moscow, Aachen or GHPC Austria: the best horses in the world are always travelling, often collecting more air miles than many on two legs, and merit the justifiable description as frequent flyers. Every year they tot up a huge amount of travelling time in order to bring home the most wonderful tournament successes with their riders, collect World Ranking points, represent their countries and qualify for important championships. What kind of challenge is it for these horses to be travelling so much? What level of planning goes on in the background and how is it possible to arrange for these noble animals to feel essentially at home all over the world?
Good planning is half the battle
Given the large number of journeys that the horses, grooms and riders undertake in each year of equestrian sport, an immense logistical effort is involved. In this context, the more practised the team, the more experienced the riders and grooms are, the better they know their horses and the more careful the planning, the better the team can then master the long trips and international tournaments. For each horse there is planning for tournaments for building up, tournaments with high performance demands and tournaments for consolidating performance and confidence. Consideration is also given to which horse and groom team is scheduled when and where. During the year changes are indeed made in the event that fitness or health so require, albeit every rider knows his or her personal targets for the year with each respective horse and the travel plan is precisely matched to that. So while the rider is at a tournament with a contingent of horses, back home the team is already preparing the next horses to travel. But this involves far more than booking tickets and loading the transporter.
Good objectives, plans and papers
As well as quarantine and entry provisions, it is also necessary to pay attention to weight regulations for the “equine luggage”, prepare all the necessary papers, coordinate appointments with the farrier, vet or physiotherapist, plan fodder changes well in advance and book and coordinate the timing of all means of transport for riders, grooms and horses.
Horse-jumbos fly differently
If the journey to the next event is by plane, this has to be booked not only for riders and grooms but also for the horses. For large events abroad, the horses fly in specially converted horse-jumbos. In these they stand in spacious stalls for three, two or single animals, built into dedicated containers that can be delivered straight into the aircraft by fork-lift truck and conveyor belt. Out of consideration for their live freight, the pilots take off and land at more shallow angles. Most horses are familiar with flying, are relaxed and doze away. Within the aircraft, the horses get good service. They can nibble at hay nets all the way, are served readily digestible mixed fodder and there is plenty of water on board. Even the temperature in the hold is kept at a horse-friendly 16 to 18 degrees Celsius. For the horses, these flights are typically more comfortable than a journey on uneven roads.
Home is where your groom is
Whilst each horse-transporter aircraft has a specially trained crew complete with a vet on board, nevertheless the horses’ most trusted companions are also on duty high above the clouds. The grooms accompany their four-legged protégés during loading, make sure everything is as it should be in the flight stall, check on them during the flight and are at their horses’ side during disembarkation. Upon arrival at a new stall, they spend a night with their equine friends, often even have hay or water from back home, along with toys and treats of course. This way these noble horses arrive relaxed at their destination, usually quickly feel at ease there and conquer the arenas of the world at a brisk canter.
What: International Show Jumping
Where: GLOCK HORSE PERFORMANCE CENTER Austria
VIP day-tickets: call +43 664 88 73 44 01
Free entry to all competitive events