Globetrotting horses take flight for Rio

Thu Jul 28, 2016 5:23am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Pegasus, the winged white stallion of Ancient Greek mythology, may have been the equine world's first frequent flyer but today's Olympic horses are the real globetrotters racking up the air miles.

The biggest and heaviest competitors in the Games are heading for Rio on charter flights from Europe and North America that can take 40 horses at a time. Most have done such journeys many times before.

"These horses are so used to it," New Zealand's British-based double individual eventing gold medalist Mark Todd, preparing for his seventh Olympics at the age of 60, told Reuters. "They do it so often.

"Apart from the takeoff and landing, when they are in the air they get a smoother ride than driving down the road where there's all the twists and turns and accelerating and slowing down.

"For them it's probably an easier trip."

Vets and grooms travel with them, keeping feed and water levels topped up, and each horse has a 'baggage allowance' of 300kg of kit.

The first eventing charter leaves London's Stansted airport on Friday for an 11 hour and 40 minute flight to the first Olympics in South America. Others depart over the weekend from Liege in Belgium and Miami.

Dressage and showjumping horses have separate flights.   Continued...

Mark Todd of New Zealand rides Campino during the equestrian Eventing Individual Dressage Day 2 in the Greenwich Park during the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 29, 2012.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings