Friday, May. 24, 2024

The Horses Are Here: World’s Biggest Equine Airlift For 2018 WEG

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The largest commercial airlift of horses ever undertaken in the history of horse sport has begun ahead of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, which get underway in Mill Spring, North Carolina, Sept 11.

The first 67 of a total 550 supremely fit airborne equine athletes have now set foot—or should that be hoof!—on the Tryon International Equestrian Center venue, nine days before the start of one of the biggest sporting events on U.S. soil this year.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

The first 67 horses heading to the World Equestrian Games boarded a flight in Liége, Belgium, on Sept. 1 Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

They will join a further 270 horses coming overland to team up with their human partners from over 70 countries at these Games, which are world championships in all of the FEI’s eight disciplines and qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Military Precision

Specialist horse transportation company Peden Bloodstock, working alongside The Dutta Corp, has coordinated the highly complex logistics, with horses from six of the world’s seven continents flying into Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina and Miami, Florida.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Going up! Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

The horses will be flying into the United States on a total of 23 flights from Liège, Belgium, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates plus flights from 11 South American cities including Buenos Aires (Argentina) Sao Paolo (Brazil), Santiago (Chile), Lima (Peru), Montevideo (Uruguay) and San José (Costa Rica).

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“This is the largest commercial airlift of horses in history, with only wartime shipments of horses coming close, so the military precision involved in the logistics is incredible,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “These horses are finely-tuned equine athletes and are not only very valuable, but they must arrive in peak competition condition, just like their human counterparts.”

First Class Travel

Emirates SkyCargo, a world leader in the air transportation of premium horses, is now celebrating its largest ever horse charter, which started with the landing of flight EK 9387 at Greenville-Spartanburg in the afternoon on Sept 2.

The horses are flying on a specially designed Boeing 777 freighter aircraft in customized stalls, with independently air-conditioned zones maintaining the perfect temperature for these four-legged athletes.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

The horses travel in customized stalls with air conditioning to keep them comfortable. Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

“Emirates SkyCargo is excited to be working on our largest horse transport charter for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games,” said Wilfred D’Souza, manager of cargo scheduling, planning and equine transportation.

“Over the course of the last 16 years we have developed strong expertise and capabilities in equine transportation and this, combined with careful planning and attention to detail, allows us to consistently deliver a comfortable environment for the horses in flight.”

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Mega-Baggage Allowance

The freight carried from Europe alone—not including the horses themselves—will total 1,235 tons of equipment, ranging from saddles, bridles, rugs and grooming kits, wheelbarrows and pitch forks, to horse shoes and all-terrain studs, as well as 51 ton of feed, in-flight snacks and 20 liters of water per horse.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

The first flight arrives at Greenville-Spartanburg Airport in South Carolina. Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

Kevin Howell, senior vice-president and chief operating officer for Greenville-Spartanburg said: “Today’s a little different, because this is four-legged cargo; we don’t move a lot of that. Actually our first equine charter was the test flight earlier this spring. The team is very focused on moving the horses safely and keeping the horses in the best health and spirits for the competition.”

After touchdown in South Carolina, the first equine arrivals were transferred directly onto trucks— without setting foot on South Carolina tarmac— for the 50-mile journey to Tryon, crossing over the state line into North Carolina with its stunning Blue Ridge Mountains backdrop.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Due to quarantine restrictions, horses were loaded directly on trucks without ever touching the ground in South Carolina. Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

Today’s flight time: 8 hours 50 minutes

Horses from 13 countries: – Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Oman, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.

In-flight temperature: 14-17° Celsius

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Preparing to load the horses in Liége, Belgium. Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Just a quick snack before hitting the road. Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Even the lines for a horse flight are long! Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

It takes a lot of organization to fly horses internationally. Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Almost all tucked in for their journey. Photo by FEI/ Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

The horses never officially touched the ground in South Carolina. Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

It requires some serious machinery to offload horses. Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

After arriving in South Carolina, horses took a 50-mile trailer ride to the Tryon International Equestrian Center. Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Nice and steady. Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

From plane to truck. It takes a lot of moving parts to transport horses. Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Welcome to the United States. Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018

Tryon here we come! Photo by FEI/Tori Repole.

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