Thanks for all your amazing questions today across Facebook and Twitter on Horse Transportation, we’ve gone through all of the questions and have asked our experts, this is what they had to say….
How long does it take the horses to recover after they've flown?
Answer: Every horse is very individual and it’s really up to how they are as to how long they need to rest. They won’t do anything when they arrive for at least around 36 hours, this is to make sure that they have plenty of time to rest. They’ll also have a walk or a hand graze by the athletes or grooms for the first couple of days.
Do they get fed on UK time for a while?
Answer: We feed them on local time to help them adjust to the new time zone.
How do they cope if there's turbulence?
Answer: Most plane journeys are very smooth; if there is turbulence it is normally no worse than driving on a road over a few potholes or round a roundabout.
Do the horses acclimatise easily ? Are there any issues with temperature change?
Answer: The climate really isn’t too dissimilar to that of the UK and it’s not humid. Some of the eventing horses have done work in heat training rugs prior to coming out to get a bit more acclimatised. The stables are very cool and the horses have fans and the cooling facilities are excellent in Deodoro.
Do the horses have 'seatbelts' for take off and landing? The take off is a very steep incline, do the horses cope OK?
Answer: When flying horses the pilots adjust the take-off and landing to be much smoother than on a passenger flight. There is less sharp acceleration for take-off and the breaking after landing is much less, the plane uses more length of the runway so there is more room for acceleration and deceleration. On the trip to Rio we hardly noticed the plane taking off.
What direction do the horses travel and are they tied in?
Answer: The horses travel facing forwards, it’s quite similar to a horse box in that respect. The horses are tied up loosely so that they can get their heads down to eat and drink during the flight.
Is there any risk of DVT to horses?
Answer: Horses don’t suffer from DVT in the same way as humans after flying.
Who accompanies the horses during the flight?
Answer: For the Great Britain teams we will either have a groom travelling out with the horses or a vet, this depends on the discipline. As well as our own officials, there are also flying grooms and vets who oversee all the horses on the flight.
Why don't all horses travel together?
Answer: Because of the staggered competition schedule, with eventing competition starting 7 days before the showjumping, there is no need for all horses to arrive at the same time. The flights make sure that all the equine athletes have time to acclimatise when they arrive.
Why do they look to have tape on their shoes?
Answer: Some horses have tape on their shoes to ensure that they do not stand on them and pull them off during the flight.
Is it the quantity that prevents you taking British hay? Is it different to UK hay?
Answer: There are import restrictions (which apply in other countries as well) around seeds and grass. To move large quantities of hay around unwrapped would be a big undertaking; it has been possible to ship some American Timothy hay into the UK for the GBR horses who eat hay rather than Haylage to acclimatise to ahead of leaving for Rio. This same American hay has been imported to Rio by the official feed suppliers to Rio 2016 so the GBR horses diet doesn’t ned to change.
Do the horses lie down during the flight?
Answer: No, the horses don’t lie down they stay standing during the flight.
Do horse's ears pop with the air pressure?
Answer: Horses have big air-filled chambers in their heads, sinuses and guttural pouches; they are susceptible to the change in air pressure in the same way as humans. Horses can equalize the pressure by swallowing in the same way we can, so we make sure that they have hay to eat on take-off and landing to encourage swallowing.
How are saddles packed?
Answer: The grooms or the athletes would pack the saddles and the rest of their competition equipment into the metal trunks which fly out with the horses.
Do they need vaccinations like their riders?
Answer: The horses are required to have flu vaccinations in line with FEI regulations. They also had an additional flu vaccination before traveling to Rio. Blood tests were also required before traveling.
Do the people flying with them get briefed on the likes and dislikes of each horse?
Answer: For the GBR horses each horse carries its own travel profile in its flight bag and this will be reviewed by those travelling with them prior to travel.
Are the horses sedated whilst their on the flight?
Answer: No, the horses aren’t sedated unless there’s an issue.
Thanks for all your support on our journey to Rio so far. Make sure you keep checking our social channels and website for all the latest updates from the British equestrian Team GB squads – and don’t forget, the competition gets underway this Saturday with the eventing dressage tests!