Flying horses to the Olympics at Rio - blog by Emma Stewart


Hello again!

It has been such a long time since I last wrote something and also the fact it is now winter and our 'off season' that not allot has been happening lately. Therefore I decided to take a trip back this month and write about flying with horses and my trip to the Olympic Games in Rio

Getting a horse to that kind of show is hard and the months before become very stressful , the horse has to be well prepared and fit and have enough competitive runs to be in the right frame of mind all without getting any injuries.
In the last week when there came the final cross country schooling or gallop training all that I wanted to do was wrap him in bubble wrap and let nobody else touch him . Not possible , obviously.

Our journey started by driving early on the morning of the flight to liege airport. When we arrived Oscar was left in a stable and we unloaded all of our equipment that needed to fly with us. There were two planes - one with horses and one with all the feed/hay and tack boxes.
Once all that was arranged and the passports of horses and grooms/vets checked we had around 6hours to wait.. I spent quite allot of time walking Oscar around the car park to keep him happy and stretched otherwise the rest of the time he could relax in his box.

For traveling each horse gets a bag and inside should go one water bucket one feed bucket , feed and as I took many apples and carrots in case he did not eat anything. Each horse also gets a big container of water and a big Haynet.
For the horse I plaited his tail down so it stayed clean and put on a tail guard so that it would not get rubbed. I taped all around his feet and shoes to ensure none could get loose and hurt him. He then had travel boots on and no blanket.

Each country's horses travelled together in the crates - two horses too one crate.
Loading the horses onto the crate is easy as it's just like walking into a trailer. After that a little car is pulling them across the airport to the plane.

As I was flying with the horses (there were 9 of us 3 vets And 6 grooms) i sat in the front of Oscar and noes crate as they put it into the plane. This to me was really scary as the movements are really sharp and it is very loud. The horses however were totally calm throughout even though most of them never flew before.

Once the horses were loaded we went to our seats until we were in the air. After that we could get up and go check the horses - give them water and food and check they are warm enough. For my two Swiss horses I also took off the traveling boots as in the air it's so smooth and 13hours is a long time to keep them on.

Throughout the journey we checked them regularly - some went less than others but generally my horses got something every two hours. After 13hours In the air we finally landed in Brazil and began the same process of going down out of the plane. The horses then went directly from the crates to horse boxes ( specially shipped there from Germany!). Once every horse was on a Lorry we drove in a big convoy with police escort (how cool) from the airport to the Olympic park.

On arrival (around 4am Brazilian time) all other non flying grooms were there waiting to take the horses. For us we first weighed our horses before taking them to the box.
We left the horses to rest and then had to wait another hour for the Lorry with our equipment. Eventually after all was organized we were able to go to the village and find our own accommodation.

Over the next day's the horses could acclimatize and get used to the surroundings. It meant some nice training sessions in the main arena and also some galloping in the heat. Our first part of the competition was the vet check. All horses passed and onto the dressage. Ran over two days it proved competitive as expected and Oscar did a nice test .
The cross country was big and technical and it caused problems for the very best of riders. Only michi and London gold medal winner Sam seemed to make it look easy ! Unfortunately for us the cross country was the ending point of oscars Olympic adventure with a couple of problems on course meaning we couldn't go forward to the final show jumping day.

The final day was really exciting watching the French team take the gold medal in the morning and in the afternoon after a second jumping round michi defended his London title and won again the gold.
After all the excitement we still had a couple of days in rio to let the horses recover. This meant we could go into the city and visit some really famous places! We eventually arrived back to Germany with sound happy horses and allot of fun which is the main part.

In the end it's a real once in a lifetime experience and flying with the horses is something I'm so happy to have had the opportunity to do. Next up is this years European and another WEG In America to fly too! But Here's hoping I can go to Tokyo in 2020 as well

In three weeks we will leave to Portugal for two weeks of competition hopefully bringing us back a qualification for badminton in May .. So by the next blog I should have lots of new stories and some new turnout and competition help to show you



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