Zara Phillips Talks Equestrian, Motherhood & Rio 2016 – Athlete Profiles
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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games roared to life last week, giving people a glimpse of the reworked event amid the Covid pandemic. Although people can’t attend in person, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has added several new sports, including skateboarding, surfing, karate and sport climbing. Day four saw the debut of one of the most traditional Olympic sports – equestrian eventing.
How do they get horses to the Olympics?
Most Olympic sports won’t require athletes to bring much baggage save for running shoes, a bow, or a swimming costume.
But equestrian competitors, who have practised for the last few years on their own horses, will need them in Japan.
Horses will travel to the country on the same transport as their riders.
More than 300 horses have landed for the Tokyo games via aeroplane.
Equestrian teams must store their steeds on a crate and pile them into cargo planes.
Each crate carries two horses, attended by their vets and grooms.
Once they land, officials guide them via conditioned lorries to a purpose-built equestrian Olympic village.
Do horses get jet lag?
One of the questions many people may have about equestrian competitors is the effect of travel on horses.
Animals have a messy history with long-distance travel as sailors once noted cows got violently seasick during transport from England to the US.
Many of the horses travelling for the Olympics will have landed in Tokyo following double-figure trips.
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But they don’t suffer the same effects as a human on the same flight.
Their attendants keep them well watered and fed with hay for the duration.
These keep them resistant to the changes in pressure humans find troublesome.
Experts can’t yet determine whether horses get jet lag.
They explained equine sleeping patterns – which usually consist of regular naps – leave them uniquely equipped to handle long trips to other countries.
Speaking in 2016, Yogi Breisner, Team GB eventing performance manager, told the BBC they often arrive “well rested and come out of it fresher.”
He added: “If they have dehydrated at all or lost a little weight during the flight, we will look to replenish that.
“Horses can rehydrate much, much more quickly than humans. A horse will be back to normal in 24 hours.”
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