Americans in Aachen for Quarantine Before Heading to Tokyo for Olympics in Airlift This Week

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Adrienne Lyle on Salvino at the famous show grounds in Aachen, Germany that is the horse quarantine center for the Tokyo Olympics.

July 12, 2021

About 70 dressage horses and riders from 30 nations are quarantined at the world famous show grounds in Aachen, Germany ready to head to Tokyo Thursday for the Olympics delayed for a year by the global coronavirus pandemic and in the wake of last winter’s deadly equine herpes virus in Europe.

The horses flying from Liege, Belgium will be on the plane for 13 hours, including a brief layover in Dubai, before arriving in Tokyo on Friday, July 16. That will be seven days ahead of the horse inspection scheduled the day before dressage competition starts Saturday, July 24, the first of two days of Grand Prix.

Horses from the Americas–squads of four each from Canada and the United States and a Florida-based Australian as well as individuals from four Latin American nations–have already made the nine-hour flights from Miami or New York to western Europe. Initial plans by the Dutta Corp. for a 14-hour flight for U.S. and Canadian horses directly from New York to Tokyo were stymied by Japanese concerns over infectious horse diseases.

Only the Japanese squad of four horses and rider Mary Hanna flying directly from Australia with her Calanta to Tokyo are not in Aachen.

Calanta, to be ridden by Mary Hanna at the Tokyo Olympics, loading for the flight to Tokyo.

Adrienne Lyle, the highest ranked American rider on the team with Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper and Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo with Nick Wagman and Don John as traveling reserve, provided an up-to-date report on life at Aachen. The annual competition of team dressage, jumping, driving, eventing and vaulting is regarded as the world’s premier horse show, drawing about a quarter million paying spectators. Steffen has been the only ever American dressage champion in Aachen, on Ravel in 2009, the year the pair were also World Cup champions. Adrienne has competed Salvino, Harmony’s Duval and Wizard, her 2012 Olympic mount, there, too.

Adrienne, based in Wellington, reported for dressage-news.com on life in the Aachen bubble. All the U.S. horses arrived safely on July 4 and “are in good spirits and schooling well.”

Saneco, competed by Sabine Schut-Kery, being cared for by a Dutta Corp. traveling groom, with Hallye Griffin, the organized and experienced U.S. federation dressage managing director who makes sure the myriad requirements to get horses and riders to the Olympics are fulfilled.

Only a limited number of credentialed people are allowed into the stables and schooling area in pre-export quarantine.

Everyone has to take a Covid test prior to their initial arrival at the facility, and then every few days while there.

All horses are tested for several diseases upon arrival and again before flying to Tokyo.

“Other than the restricted access and the testing,” Adrienne said, “the atmosphere is similar to the normal pre-show excitement that you feel in Aachen.

“One of my favorite parts of any Olympic or World Games is the chance to sit and watch all the different riders train. It is so interesting to watch everyone’s styles and techniques and very inspiring to see so many great riders and horses in one place.

“So far schooling is all open and rather relaxed, as far as watching other riders. I think everyone is very respectful of each other’s privacy but they also enjoy watching the other teams train.

“The atmosphere between teams seems very friendly and all the riders, grooms, and support staff seem excited to be here. So far our weather has been nice and cool, which is a great break for the U.S. horses that came from the intense heat and humidity in Florida. We have had the chance to ride and train in the Florida heat, so we know how to handle it, but I am glad the horses get a reprieve from it while they are here in Aachen.

“On a normal day here we designate training times within our group and when we aren’t riding ourselves, we sit and watch our teammates train.

“Because of Covid precautions, all people within our USA team are abstaining from any outside trips or socializing. For us this is a time to train, rest and focus on the upcoming Games.

“Our horse fly to Tokyo on July 15th from the Liege airport. A lot of careful planning has gone into ensuring the horses are properly taken care of on the long journey so they arrive happy and healthy.”