5 MINUTES WITH LIZ BROWN, EVENTING TEAM VET

We caught up with Liz Brown, the Eventing Team travelling Vet to talk about how the horses will make the journey to Rio for the Olympic Games.

How do the horses get to Rio?

We have a flight that goes from Stansted and so I will fly with the horses and we have a direct flight out to Rio. The flight will only have event horses on it and there will probably be between 30-40 horses on there. They are situated in a crate which is essentially a partitioned stall and there will be two horses per crate.

Do the horses eat anything when they are on a flight?

Normally they just stand there and relax and they have hay all the time while they are on the plane and we will go give them water regularly and we will monitor how much they are drinking.

Does anyone look after the horses during the flight?

I will be on the flight with them and I will be checking up on them every now and again.

The pilot will control the temperature on the plane and we have it set at a level where the horses are comfortable because it is very important to make sure they are not overheated. 

I have flown on flights with horses numerous times in the past. Normally we take the horses out to Kentucky where there is a three day event there and the horses normally cope well with the flying it is just the loading part which some of them dont like but once they are on the aircraft it is a smooth journey for them.

Is there anything that you have to keep aware of during the flight?

One thing we have to keep very aware of is their respiratory health including their lung health because when they are travelling if they have their heads up for long periods of time they can be prone to getting bacterial growths in their lungs and they could infections and accumulate a lot of mucus so we try to keep their heads down and on the planes you can open up the front of the pallet so we can allow them to drop their heads and allow the mucus to drain.

How do they find taking off and landing?

Because they don’t anticipate it for them they will usually be standing there eating their hay and they suddenly the aircraft will accelerate and take off and the pilots who control a horse flight will control a more gradual take off and a slower landing and this a different sort of landing to a typical flight. When you're on a passenger plane you will experience what they control a positive landing where they brake quite hard but with the horses they do a longer landing and they don’t brake as hard and so the horses don’t feel that sudden deceleration. 

Will it take them a while to re-adjust to their new surroundings in Rio?

It will be a twelve hour flight and in Rio there is four hour time delay but this won’t affect the horses that much. A lot of them are used to flying and so this should not be a problem. 

When they get off the plane we monitor their temperatures very carefully and so if any of them have a slight temperature to suggest they have picked up an infection we would need to be on that straight away.

The horses will arrive just under a week before the trot up for their competitions and this is a sufficient amount of time for them to go through any recovery they need to go through before the main event gets underway!