Horse Flights to Rio Olympics Begin In Week

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Containers of horses arriving at a major international event, similar to transportation of horses for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Containers of horses arriving at a major international event, similar to transportation of horses for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

July 25, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Almost 300 competition horses representing 49 nations to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be flown from Europe and the Americas to Rio de Janeiro beginning in a week.

Seven Boeing 777 aircraft will fly from Liege, Belgium and an eighth 777 from Stanstead, England with a total of of 274 horses, in the airlift organized by Peden Bloodstock that has been the official shipper for the Olympics for more than four decades.

Other horses will be flown from New York, Miami, Montevideo and Santiago.

The majority of horses will fly from Europe, including those from widely separated nations such as Australia, South Africa, the United States and even those from Brazil that are based in Europe or have been competing there.

Equestrian begins at the Deodoro complex outside Rio with the eventing horse inspection scheduled for Aug. 5, dressage horse inspection Aug. 8 and jumpers on Aug. 12.

Martin Atock, managing director of the Germany-based Peden, said that after Olympic competition the horses will return to their embarkation points before being able to head for home.

At the last Olympics, most horses traveled by road within Europe.

However, the number of horses being flown to the Olympics is about the same as for Hong Kong for the 2008 Beijing Games and the approximate 14 hours flying time is about the same.

Shipment containers of horses being loaded on to trucks after arriving by air at a competition. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Shipment containers of horses being loaded on to trucks after arriving by air at a competition. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The Olympic airlift is a little more than half the number flown to the United States for the World Games in Kentucky in 2010, but only a fraction of the more than 2,000 dressage and jumper horses flown to Florida for the Winter Equestrian and Global Dressage Festivals and the international polo circuit in Wellington each winter.