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FEI Establishes Horse Transport Procedures for 2008 Olympic Games

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Veterinary Committee and the Welfare Sub Committee met on March 19, 2007 to discuss transport related issues such as flight schedules, arrival times and the related competition dates for the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong. The meeting was attended by the FEI Directors of the Veterinary and Olympic Departments along with Mr. Martin Atock, Managing Director of the transportation company, Peden Bloodstock.

While recognizing the many complicating factors involved in competition horse shipment and being appreciative of the huge amount of work and support that those involved, in particular Martin Atock as the appointed transporter, had carried out it was felt that the Committee should make a number of issues clear.

In the interest of a safe competition and an optimal transport, the Veterinary Committee advises, parallel to the pre-Atlanta research outcome, that the horses arrive approximately 10 days prior to competition. This will enable a thorough flight recovery and give the horses a fair chance to get used to the HKG climatic conditions. It also leaves room for treatment in case any horse suffers from travel sickness or minor injury in flight. At the moment, flying schedules are being designed to adhere as closely as possible to the 10-day period, although this will not be possible in each case.

Further discussions are required to define the optimal stable temperature in air-conditioned stables and the temperature phases leading from horse arrival to competition (e.g. start with a cool temperature and gradually increase in the days leading up to competition). The test event will help in this evaluation.

At the moment it looks like most of the horses will travel to HKG in combi-flights; this creates more room for transport of grooms, gives more flexibility in flight scheduling, but causes some problems in terms of unloading the horses and the aircraft turnover time. This issue is being given urgent attention as the time from aircraft to air-conditioned lorries/stables at the venue is one of the most important transport related factors in preventing post flight fever and has a major effect on post flight recovery of the horses.

The FEI welcomes the cooperation of National Federations participating in the Olympic Test Event later this year to share their monitoring protocols in an attempt to collect as much data as possible in a standardized way, and also to allow these data to be shared for the benefit of sports both at the Olympic Games and in the future. It is planned to organize a seminar on Competition and Transport issues in heat and humid conditions at the beginning of 2008, during which the findings from the test event will be discussed with any involved party.


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