A Political Voice For Horses: The American Horse Council

American Horse Council logoIf you’ve been involved even peripherally in the political scene over the several months,  you have probably heard of lobbyists and special interest groups using their voice to be sure that our government is aware of their concerns and needs.  But who is speaking up for the horse industry?  The American Horse Council!

Founded in 1969, the American Horse Council (AHC) was organized by a group of horsemen concerned about federal legislation affecting their industry. They recognized the need for national and coordinated industry action in Washington, DC.   Since its inception, the AHC has been promoting and protecting the equine industry by representing its interests in Congress and in federal regulatory agencies on national issues that affect to each and every person involved in the horse industry.

The AHC promotes and protects all horse breeds, disciplines and interests by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry itself each and every day.

The AHC is member supported by approximately 160 organizations and 1,200 individuals representing every facet of the horse world – from owners, breeders, trainers, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen’s associations to horse shows, racetracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.

The AHC has seven committees – the Government Affairs Advisory Council, Racing Committee, Showing Committee, Health and Regulatory Committee, Animal Welfare Committee, Recreation Committee and the State Horse Council Advisory Committee – that we look to for expertise and advice on the issues we face.

In 2005, the AHC wanted to demonstrate to the general public, the media and federal, state and local officials that the horse industry is diverse, vibrant and provides a significant economic impact to our country.  An economic study was done by Deloitte Consulting LLP validated what the industry has known for some time.  The horse industry is a very large, important and wide-ranging part of our national, state and local economies, involving agriculture, business, sport, gaming, entertainment and recreation.

Highlights of the national study include:AHC Time To Ride

  • There are 9.2 million horses in the United States.
  • 6 million Americans are involved in the industry as horse owners, service providers, employees and volunteers. Tens of millions more participate as spectators.
  • 2 million people own horses.
  • The horse industry has a direct economic effect on the U.S. of $39 billion annually.
  • The industry has a $102 billion impact on the U.S .economy when the multiplier effect of spending by industry suppliers and employees is taken into account. Including off-site spending of spectators would result in an even higher figure.
  • The industry directly provides 460,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
  • Spending by suppliers and employees generates additional jobs for a total employment impact of 1.4 million FTE jobs.
  • The horse industry pays $1.9 billion in taxes to all levels of government.

To purchase the comprehensive 2005 National Economic Impact of the U.S. Horse Industry, go to: http://www.horsecouncil.org/national-economic-impact-us-horse-industry

In addition, the AHC has joined with the Unwanted Horse Coalition, a broad alliance of equine organizations is to reduce the number of unwanted horses and to improve their welfare through education and the efforts of organizations committed to the health, safety, and responsible care and disposition of these horses.  Their focus is to educate owners who are unaware of, or do not give enough thought to, the available options, services and assistance available in the industry to help them ensure that their horse has caring and humane support throughout its life.

For more information on the American Horse Council:  http://www.horsecouncil.org/

For more information on the Unwanted Horse Coalition:   http://www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org


Improve Your Dressage – Volunteer To Be A Dressage Show Scribe

scribeOne of the best ways to improve your dressage scores is to volunteer to scribe for a judge at a dressage show.  This gives you a front-row seat to see the ride and hear how the judge scores it.  It can help you learn just what the judge’s are looking for in each movement.  Not only will you hear the number score, you will also hear any comments the judge makes as to why they scored the movement the way they did.

The Scribe is the person who sits beside the judge during each ride and writes the judge’s score and comments onto the test sheet. The Scribe must be able to record the judge’s comments accurately and consistently. While the numbers indicate the score, the remarks will most often tell you why you received that number or what  you need to work on.

You will be required to sit quietly and concentrate for several hours just listening and writing.  The time commitment is typically four hours, but some judges prefer to have the same scribe all day. At the end of the test, the Scribe gives the completed and signed test sheet to a runner who takes it for official scoring.

dresage test score sheetA Scribe should have familiarity with dressage and the terms that may be used during a test. They must be able to record the judge’s score and remarks quickly, clearly and legibly.  Scribes must maintain confidentiality and make no remarks about any horses or riders in the competition, including but not limited to, any background information about the horse or rider, their trainer/coach, breeding, etc.  Above all, a Scribe must never repeat any of the judge’s remarks.

In addition, the Scribe helps the judge prepare for each test. At the start of each class (ex. Training Level, Prix St. Georges), be sure the judge knows what test is being performed. A spare copy of the test should be available for the judge if they need to refresh their memory. Be sure that everything the judge needs is available.  This can include a copy of the ride time schedule, pens/pencils, test sheets, whistle or bell and water/coffee if the judge prefers.

Before the first ride, discuss with the judge how he/she prefers to report scores and comments.  Establish clearly whether comments for a movement will be given before or after the score so that comments will be entered in the proper place.  Establish whether the judge wants comments abbreviated or will not accept abbreviations. If judge allows such, use abbreviations as much as possible.  You should not talk to the judge during a ride. However, if you get lost on the correct movement being scored, quietly ask what movement the next score will be for.

As the rider enters the arena, check each rider’s number, confirming it with the number on the test sheet. If the numbers do not match, find out who the rider is and locate the proper test sheet. Write the judge’s comments exactly as given. Do not rearrange or edit. At the conclusion of the test, but before giving the score sheet to the runner, review what you’ve written reflects what the judge said.  Double check that the test includes all required scores, that errors are clearly marked and that the judge has signed the test score sheet.  Some judges may wish to write their own note to the competitor on the bottom of the test, or may dictate them to you.

The United States Dressage Federation (USDF) has put together a list of guidelines for Scribes.  Click HERE for a copy.  Note, too, that it lists the most common abbreviations used when scribing.  With the permission of the judge, use this to make your job easier and more efficient.

What I Accidentally Learned at a Julie Goodnight Clinic

Julie goodnight horse masterEarlier this year, I attended my first Julie Goodnight clinic at the Washington State Horse Expo in Ridgefield, WA.  For those of you who don’t know her, Julie Goodnight is a multidisciplinary rider and clinician, with experience in dressage, jumping, racing, reining, colt-starting, cutting, and wilderness riding. She teaches natural horsemanship, emphasizing doing what is best for the horse, and also the rider’s safety at her clinics and on  her television show on Horse Master With Julie Goodnight.

Julie’s clinic are a combination of “show and tell.”  She was working with another rider, while riding her own horse and explaining what she was doing.  Suddenly, the participants horse started to whinny and whinny and whinny.  Julie advised not to punish the horse and went on to explain the way horses communicate “verbally.”

“Horses are limited to just a few audible expressions that they use to communicate: the whinny, nicker, snort and squeal, all of which have varying deliveries and subtle inflections. The four audible expressions each have specific meaning.

Nickers are the guttural, low-pitched pulsating expressions and occur most often just prior to being fed and announce the horse’s presence and anticipation. Stallions will also nicker at mares during reproductive behavior to draw the mare’s attention. Mares typically give a third type of nicker to their young foals when the mare is concerned about the foal. Basically all three types of nickers mean, “come closer to me.”

Whinnies or neighs are high-pitched calls that begin like a squeal and end like a nicker and it is the longest and loudest of horse sounds. The whinny is a social call and seems to be a form of individual recognition and most often occurs when a foal and mare or peer companions are separated or when a horse is inquisitive after seeing a horse in the distance. The whinny seems to be a searching call that facilitates social contact from a distance.

Snorts and blows are both produced by forceful expulsion of air through the nostrils. The snort has a rattling sound but the blow does not. The snort and blow communicates alarm and apparently serves to alert other horses. The snort may also be given when a horse is restless but constrained and in this case it should be taken seriously as a sign that the horse is feeling trapped and alarmed and may become reactive.

The squeal is a high-pitched outcry with meaning as a defensive warning or threat that the annoyed individual will become aggressive if further provoked. Squeals are typical during aggressive interactions between horses, during sexual encounters when the mare protests the stallion’s advances and when a pre- or early-lactating mare objects to being touched anywhere near her sore teats.

Horses also make body noises that are not communicative but may tell you more about the horse’s physical state. They may groan and snore; the groan occurs mostly when the horse is lying down on his side (lateral recumbency) and is often made by a tired horse as he lies down. The groan may also be an expression of prolonged discomfort like when a horse is colicking or a mare is in labor. The snore is usually labored breathing in a recumbent horse and sounds a lot like the human snore.” – Julie Goodnight, 2007.

Many of us have experienced working with our horse and suddenly they go off on a bout of whinnying, i.e. looking for a friend.  Horses can feel insecure, especially when working alone in a large space.  The best way to overcome this is to working with your horse to establish that YOU are the herd leader.  You are the one in charge of keeping him safe.  He doesn’t need to call for a friend because you are already there to take care of him.  Once he accepts you as the alpha, the whinnying should cease.

Next time there’s a clinician in your area, don’t miss it because they may be focusing on a discipline you don’t practice.  I ride just for pleasure, but it was great to learn something new about horse behavior.

Photo credit:  Julie Goodnight



Creating the Dressage Musical Freestyle

It’s sometimes called “horse ballet” by those that don’t understand the sport.  But actually, they are not too far off. The power and elegance of dressage combined with the beauty of appropriate music can turn our sport into art – like figure skating or, yes, even ballet.

The Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle is coming up in the 2012 London Olympics and if there’s one thing you can watch, this would be it. Unlike the dressage tests like the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special, every freestyle will be different. However, jus t like figure skating, all freestyles must contain certain movements to show the level of training of the horse and rider. To see a copy of the Grand Prix Freestyle score sheet, click HERE.

If you watch and listen carefully, you’ll notice that different riders use different types of music, based on their horse. A rider with a big, powerful horse may use music that is more majestic. A rider with a smaller, finer-boned horse may use music that is lighter and “airy.” The choice of music is probably the most important part of the freestyle, even more important than the choreography. In fact, there is a specific score for the music and the interpretation. To evaluate your horse’s way of going to different music, riders will often video having their horse ridden at all the gaits and movements they will use. They may even put a different color boot or polo wrap on one of the front legs to help visually see the cadence of foot falls and how it matches up to the music. After the video is made, you can try different types of music and see what best fits your horse’s way of moving. This is often the most difficult thing for new freestyle choreographers to embrace. They have a favorite piece of music that they desperately want to ride to. However, it may not be the best music to show off your horse and choreography. The music rarely, if ever, contains vocals as they can be too distracting when watching the artistic interpretation of horse and music. It is also rare for one piece of music to fit your whole freestyle, so be prepared to use different types of music, though you’ll notice they are usually in the same genre, e.g. all classical, all show tunes, all Big Band.

charlotte dujardin record dressate London Olympia.JPGAt the Grand Prix level, some of the riders have music choreographed especially for their dressage freestyle. This is the case for Charlotte Dujardin who rode, at the London Olympic World Cup, received a record 94.3% for her  freestyle with music composed by Tom Hunt.  To see that awesome ride, click HERE.

Here’s some expert advice from Tom Hunt on designing your own freestyle:

“My advice to anyone starting out would be to find music that really suits the personality and characteristics of your horse. Once you have a style of music that you like, whether it’s classical or pop, it is important to try and create a theme for the freestyle. That can be a musical theme that is repeated throughout the routine or music from a show soundtrack for example. It’s important that there’s a connection linking the music choices together so that the freestyle makes sense as a whole piece. This will also make it easier for audiences to stay engaged with the overall experience of the freestyle.

“Getting to grips with the differences in tempo of your horse’s paces is crucial. Make a video of your floorplan and, with a metronome, take some time to work out the BPM (Beats Per Minute) of each pace and work with music choices that complement the horse’s tempo, style and rhythm. If you have a big horse with powerful movement it is important to use music that emphasizes these characteristics.

“Another good piece of advice is to arrange the music to highlight the changes in the floorplan / choreography. This may sound obvious but it can really help a rider stay on the beat if they know where they need to be at any given point in the music. Understanding the phrasing of music can help you with this aspect when it comes to putting the music to your floorplan.”

While anyone can create and ride a musical freestyle, the United States Dressage Federation recommends that you ride at a level BELOW what you are currently showing in regular dressage. For example, if you are showing at 2nd Level, you should create a freestyle for 1st Level or Training Level.

So for all you frustrated “So You Think You Can Dance” dancers or choreographers, here’s your chance for you and your partner to show off!

dressage freestyle cartoon

Photo credits:
www. MichiganDressageClinics.com



Equestrian Olympic Medals – Team vs. Individual


olumpic timetable

As  you can see from the schedule, there are Olympic medals to be awarded for teams  as well as for individuals in each discipline.  And if it appears that some of them are judged at the same time, they are.  It can be a bit complicated, so here are the official FEI rules as well as an explanation.

EVENTING:Blackfoot Mystery Boydandsilvamartin

The FEI rules say, “The Team and Individual Competition will be run concurrently on separate consecutive days in the following order: the Dressage test, the Cross Country test and the Team Jumping Competition to determine the Team winner.”

“The Individual final Jumping test will take place after the Team Jumping Competition on the same day. The twenty five (25) best Athletes, including those who tie for twenty fifth (25th) place on the conclusion of the Team Competition (maximum three (3) best scoring Athletes per team classification per nation) will qualify to participate.”

What it means:  Everyone does the 2008 Olympic Games 4* B  (short)  dressage test, the cross-country course and the jump course.  Upon conclusion of these three, the team medals are announced.  Then they take the top 25 scores (made up of all three components) and these horse/riders come back for another run at the jump course.  Best score made up of dressage, cross-country and this 2nd jump course indicates the individual winners.


RooseveltThe FEI rules say, “Team and First Individual Qualifier, The FEI Grand Prix Test, in which all Athletes must participate, is the First Team Qualifying Competition and the First Individual Qualifying Competition

Team Final and Second Individual Qualifier, the FEI Grand Prix Special, is the final Team Competition and the Second Individual Qualifying Competition. The FEI Grand Prix Special is limited to and compulsory for the best six (6) placed teams of the Grand Prix, including those tied for sixth (6th) place, as well as the eight (8) highest placed Athletes of the Grand Prix not otherwise participating as qualified team members, including those tied for eighth (8th) place.

In the Individual Final Competition,  the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle test is the Final Individual Competition which is limited to and compulsory for the 18 best placed Athletes of the FEI Grand Prix Special Competition, including those who tie for eighteenth (18th) place. Only the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle Competition counts towards the final Individual classification. The winning individual Athlete is the one (1) with the highest total percentage in the Grand Prix Freestyle Competition.”

What it means:  Everyone competes in the FEI Grand Prix test.  The top 6 teams come back to perform the Grand Prix Special test.  If a competitor is not a member of a team, the top eight riders will also be qualified to ride the Grand Prix Special.  At the end of those two competitions, the team medals will be awarded.  The top 18 are invited to participate in the Grand Prix Freestyle test.  The score of the Grand Prix Freestyle determines the individual medals. 

JUMPING:HH Azur Equestrian Life

The FEI Rules say Showjumping will consist of , “The First Individual Qualifying Competition; The Team Jumping Competition, on two (2) days with a possible jump-off. First and Second Rounds also counting as Second and Third Individual Qualifying Competitions;  The Final Individual Jumping Competition, consisting of one Final Competition run over two rounds (Round A & B) with a possible jump-off.”

What it means: Anyone who wants to compete as an individual starts in Round One (Individual qualifying round). The top 60 move on to the first round (qualifying) for the Team Competition held the next two days – this is actually the second round of the Individual Competition.  On the third day of competition, the Team Competition final is held.  The top eight teams compete.

This also counts as the third round qualifier for the Individuals. The scores of the Round One Individual qualifier and the Round One Team (Round Two Individual) qualifier are calculated and the top 45 individuals are asked to return to compete in the Team finals (Third Individual Qualifier).  Best individuals from Individual Qualifying Rounds One, Two and Three compete over two more courses (Round A and Round B) with the possibility of a jump-off to determine the  Individual medals.

So enjoy the Olympics and cheer on our USA Equestrian Team! For those of you who like to “judge with the judges,” I’ve linked the various dressage tests each discipline will be using for the 2016 Olympics.

Photo credits:
Schedule: Horse & Hound
Dressage – Eurodressage.com
Jumping – Equestrian Life
Eventing – BoydandSilvaMartin.com

Our 2016 Olympic Horses

Having kept up with the U.S.A. Equestrian Team Selections, I was surprised to find that not much is written about the horses who are going to Rio. So here are some basics about our “Team Equine”:


NAME:  RooseveltRoosevelt

BREED: Hanoverian

AGE: 14

SEX: Stallion

RIDER: Allison Brock

OWNER: Claudine & Fritz Kundrun

NAME: Verdades


AGE: 14

SEX: Stallion

RIDER: Laura Graves

OWNER: Graves

NAME: Dublet

BREED: Danish Warmblood

AGE: 13

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Kasey Perry-Glass

OWNER: Diane Perry

NAME: Legolas 92

BREED: Westphalian

AGE: 14

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Steffen Peters

OWNER: Four Winds Farm


BREED: Rheinlander

AGE:  9

SEX: Mare

RIDER: Steffen Peters

OWNER: Four Wind’s Farm


BREED: Oldenberg

AGE: 13

SEX:  Gelding

RIDER: Shelly Francis

OWNER:  Patricia Stempel


NAME: Barron

BREED: Belgian Warmblood

AGE: 12

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Lucy Davis

OWNER: Old Oak Farm

NAME: Voyeur


AGE: 14

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Kent Farrington

OWNER: Amalaya Investment

NAME: Cortes ‘C’

BREED: Belgian Warmblood

AGE: 14

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Beezie Madden

OWNER: Abigail Wexner

NAME: HH AzurHH Azur Equestrian Life

BREED: Belgian Warmblood

AGE: 10

SEX: Mare

RIDER: McLain Ward

OWNER: Double H Farm and Francois Mathy


NAME: Fernhill Cubalawn

BREED: Holsteiner

AGE: 13

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Phillip Dutton

OWNER: Caroline Moran, Simon Roosevelt and Thomas Tierney


BREED: Irish Sport Horse

AGE: 12

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Phillip Dutton


NAME: Fernhill Fugitive (DIRECT RESERVE)

BREED: Irish Sport Horse

AGE: 11

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Phillip Dutton

OWNER:Ann Jones and Thomas Tierney

NAME: Veronica


AGE: 14

SEX: Mare

RIDER: Lauren Kieffer

OWNER: Team Rebecca, LLC

NAME: Meadowbrook’s Scarlett (DIRECT RESERVE)

BREED: Thoroughbred Cross

AGE: 9

SEX: Mare

RIDER: Lauren Kieffer

OWNER: Marie Le Menestrel

NAME: Blackfoot MysteryBlackfoot Mystery Boydandsilvamartin

BREED: Thoroughbred

AGE: 12

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Boyd Martin

OWNER: Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate, LLC


BREED: Thoroughbred Cross

AGE: 11

SEX: Mare

RIDER: Boyd Martin

OWNER: Gloria Callen

NAME: Loughan Glen

BREED: Irish Sport Horse

AGE: 13

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Clark Montgomery

OWNER: Holly and William Becker, Kathryn Kraft and Jessica Montgomery


BREED: Thoroughbred

AGE: 13

SEX: Gelding

OWNER: Donner Syndicate, LLC

NAME: Super Sock’s BCF (RESERVE)

BREED: Irish Sport Horse

AGE: 10

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Matthew Brown

OWNER: Blossom Creek Foundation

NAME: Manoir de Carneville (RESERVE)

BREED: Selle Francais

AGE: 16

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Sinead Halpin

OWNER: Manoir de Carneville Syndicate, LLC

NAME: Simply Priceless (RESERVE)

BREED: Thoroughbred

AGE: 15

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Elisa Wallace

OWNER: Simply Priceless Syndication, LLC

U.S. A. Horses By The Numbers:

SEX:  Stallions – 2      Mares – 4       Geldings – 16

BREED:  Thoroughbred/TB X – 5      Irish Sport Horse – 4       KWPN – 3

Belgian Warmblood – 3         Hanovarian – 1       Danish Warmblood – 1

Holsteiner – 1       Westphalian – 1       Rheinlander – 1        Oldenberg – 1

Selle Francais – 1

Photo credits:
Roosevelt – Eurodressage.com
HH Azur – Equestrian Life
Blackfoot Mystery – BoydandSilvaMartin.com


A Horse’s Road To Rio – The Competition

x countryIn August, the world’s best equestrians and their horses will arrive in Rio de Janiero for the 2016 Olympic Games.  Almost 300 horses from 40 countries will compete in both team and individual dressage, eventing and jumping. Later, the Paralympic games will take center stage.

All equestrian competition will take place at Deodoro Olympic Park, located west of Rio, the second largest Rio 2016 Games cluster.  The Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center was built for the 2007 Pan American Games, so it already has a record of successful competitions. The center is currently used by the Brazilian Army Equestrian School and as an Olympic training center.  To accommodate the 2016 Olympics, it was refurbished and expanded.  A year before the 2016 Rio Olympic Games were scheduled to begin, the entire equestrian complex received a thorough review on everything from footing to stables to the accuracy of scoring and timing. Deodoro received a passing score.

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) developed the OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC show jumping rio olympicsGAMES EQUESTRIAN VENUE AND OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS guide.  It outlines everything from the size of the arenas and warmups to the footing and “kiss and cry” areas. Christian Bauer was the footing advisor appointed by the Rio 2016 and recommended a sand-fiber mix riding areasPierre Michelet is the cross-country course designer. He designed the course at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy and the CCI4* at Pau. The course will feature a sandy turf footing.

With less than a week before the Games begin, let’s wish “GOOD LUCK” to all the competitors and “SAFE TRIP” to their horses.


olumpic timetable

A Horse’s Road To Rio – The Venue

Equestrian Olympic CenterHorses will begin arriving for the Rio Olympics the first of August.  Horses for the Paralympic games will arrive the first of September.  As with all the previous travel, Peden Bloodstock will coordinate the horse’s arrival and stabling at the game.   FEI developed the Customs & Freight Manual Appendix EQUESTRIAN FREIGHT to assist them in a smooth operation.  Their goal is to have all formalities and procedures completed as swiftly and smoothly as possible to settle the horses, attendants and equipment at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center quickly. Located west of Rio in the Deodoro area, the trip to the stabling area should take approximately 45 minutes from the airport, depending on traffic.

The unloading and transportation are outlined as follows:

  • Horses are briefly inspected before unloading from the aircraft and relevant documents are collected by officers.
  • The horses and their attendants will be transferred from the aircraft, which will be parked at the freighter terminal, via the apron and a transfer ramp onto the horse trucks.
  • Every vehicle, all of which are of EU origin, can accommodate up to 10 horses, in 1.12m wide stalls in a forward, backward or sideward travelling configuration. It is anticipated that the 10 horse configuration, with 2 horses travelling sideward will only be utilized for the Jumping flights ex Europe where the maximum trucking capacity will be required.
  • Once the horses are securely transferred to the horse trucks, customs and immigration formalities will be completed.
  • Simultaneously all pallets with horse equipment, vet medicines and feed will be broken down. The authorities will inspect the consignment prior to it being loaded onto vehicles for transfer to the secure Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center.
  • Once all formalities are completed at the airport the horses accompanied by their attendants, equipment, vet medicines & feed will be transferred to the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center;
  • Horses will be inspected and relevant documents will be checked after arriving at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center

As the Official Stable Management Provider for the Rio 2016 Games, two Peden stable managers will be on site prior to horse arrival until the last horse has departed. Rio 2016 Volunteers will form the rest of the stable management team under the direction of the Peden Stable Managers. Peden will be responsible for formulating the stable plan – it has been agreed that horses will be stabled by National Federation (NF), National Olympic (NOC) and National Paralympics Committees (NPC) and not by discipline, i.e. all the U.S.A. horses will be stabled together.

Strict biosecurity measures have been implemented at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center to ensure that the status of this area is fully maintained. They include:

  • Vectors Control (ticks, rodents, pigeons, etc.) being run by experienced professionals from local universities hired by the government. It is been in place since 2007 but has been reinforced since January 2014. Reports are delivered every six months.
  • To complement the measures designed to control animal movement, the entire competition area will be fenced in order to prohibit the entry of animals that are not participating in the event.
  • The venue is completely horse free since April 2015 and will remain till the Games.
  • Foot mats with disinfectant and hand gels must be utilized on entry and exit from the horse area.

vet clinic layoutFor additional biosecurity protection, horses should not leave the venue once admitted. Therefore, Rio2016 has constructed an equine hospital for on-site emergency surgery, and the clinic will be fully equipped to deliver high quality veterinary services for the horses competing in the Games. The Veterinary Clinic will provide a 24-hour operation and provide a complement of treatment options the entire time that horses are on site at Deodoro.

The import of feed, supplements, medicines and hay will all be monitored by the Brazilian authorities.

  • No wood is allowed to be imported into Brazil.  Horses will be bedded on shavings.
  • Import of feed is permitted subject to it containing no animal origin protein and no active/inactive biological agents.
  • Rio2016 has a contract with Kentucky Equine Research (KER) who will identify potential suppliers of local products (hay and shavings), contact associations to assess needs, and work with Peden to coordinate shipment of feed
  • Hay is not permitted to be imported, with the exception of haylage

Finally, farrier services will also be available, but regulated at the Olympics. It’s no surprise that there is also a Veterinary and Farrier Services Guide. The “forge” for use team farriers, is located adjacent to the Veterinary Clinic and close to the stables area. The forge will be staffed daily and contain the following facilities:

  • Two individual shoeing bays
  • Two double-burner gas forges
  • Two work benches
  • Various forging tools and supplies

Rio 2016 farriers will be available to provide general and specialist farrier services at the forge as requested. All services may be booked at the forge or at the Veterinary Clinic’s reception and will be charged at commercial rates. Team farriers are welcome to use the forge by appointment. Times may be booked at the forge or at the Veterinary Clinic. Stock will be supplied to farriers for a nominal fee, and farrier tools may be loaned to team farriers depending on availability. For each discipline a stock of shoes, nails and other materials will be made available for teams to use.  However, it is recommended that teams bring their own stock, such as spare sets of shoes.

With the horses safely in their stalls and all supplies approved and delivered, there’s nothing left but to wait for the competition to begin.

Photo credit: Rio2016

A Horse’s Road To Rio – Travel Documents

The Rio2016 organizing committee is doing everything possible to ensure that all horses arrive, compete and leave Rio disease-free.  To that end, extensive documentation procedures have been put in place for exporting horses.

passport from Global NewsTo verify that only those horses qualified to compete in the Olympics are brought into the country, all horses must possess a valid Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) passport or FEI recognition card.  In addition, all horses must be microchipped.  No import permit will be issued for a horse that has not been microchipped. Finally, horses must be accompanied by an Export Health Certificate.

Per the Equestrian Freight Manual (EFM), the official guidelines for shipping horses for the Equestrian Events of the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, within 30 days of the date of export, all horses must have the following tests completed:

a) Equine Infectious Anemia Negative Agar Gel Immunodiffusion assay (AGID test/Coggins) for Equine infectious Anemia.

b) Glanders (only for horses that will be certified in Germany) Complement Fixation Test (CFT) with a negative result at 1:5 dilution.

c) Dourine (only for horses that will be certified in Italy) Complement Fixation Test (CFT) with a negative result at 1:5 dilution.

d) Equine Piroplasmosis Babesia Caballi AND Theileria Equi Complement Fixation Test or Indirect Immunoflouresence or ELISA test for B Caballi and T Equi. A horse testing positive for Equine Piroplasmosis is still permitted to travel providing that the horse is clinically healthy.

e) West Nile Virus This test is not required if the horse has been (for the 2 months prior to export) in a country which is officially West Nile Free or if the horse is vaccinated according to a full schedule against WNV at least 30 days prior to shipment to Rio. If during the 2 months before export the horse has been in a country where West Nile Virus has been reported (currently USA, Spain, Austria) a WNV IgM cELISA must be undertaken with negative results.

All horses must remain under veterinary supervision for a minimum of 14 days prior to export to Brazil. During this period there should be no contact with horses of a lower health status

Furthermore, all horses must be vaccinated for Equine Influenza no less than 15 days and no longer than 90 days prior to shipment.  Horses must be treated for internal and external parasites within 48 hours of departure – the active ingredient of the product and the date of treatment must be recorded on the export health certificate.

The FEI Veterinary Committee has agreed that the FEI examination on arrival will be performed at the hub of departure instead of on arrival at the venue.  Once tested the animals must remain under veterinary supervision until export to Brazil. The horses will be under the supervision of an FEI veterinarian from the point of inspection and during flight.planning-and-preparation

As with the Beijing 2008 & London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Peden Bloodstock, the Rio2016 appointed Official International Shipping Agent and Stable Management Provider, will be using Hippobase to consolidate all horse & shipping information e.g. horse passport copies, attendant passport copies, addresses of origin and return, vehicle details, etc.

A word about the Zika virus and horses:  According to an article in The Horse by J. Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, “There’s currently no evidence that Zika virus can infect horses. Zika—which is a mosquito-borne virus related to West Nile virus and dengue fever— has only been found in nature in humans and nonhuman primates.”

In addition to the documentation regarding horses, there are protocols outlined for the shipping, storing and re-exporting of feed, hay, bedding and medical supplies.  From the looks of the requirements, competing at the Olympics might actually be easier than getting there!

Photo credit:  Global News
Photo credit: Peden Bloodstock



A Horse’s Road To Rio – Travel Logistics


horse watching planeIf you think the logistics at your local horse show is confusing, try coordinating over 300 horses from approximately 40 countries to arrive on time for the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics.  That’s just the job of Peden Bloodstock  International Shipping Agents.  They have been appointed by the Rio2016 organization ((Rio Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad) to coordinate equine transport, quarantine, health, logistic and stable management.

With offices in German and the United Kingdom, Peden comes with extensive experience transporting horses and includes the 2012 London Olympics and the 2013 and 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy.  Peden were then the first company to transport horses “commercially” (knowing that they flew military purpose horses in World War II) by air in October 1947

To aid in coordination and logistics, the Federation Equestrian National (FEI) Equestrian Freight Manual (EFM) for use by all National Federation (NF), National Olympic (NOC) and National Paralympics Committees (NPC). The rules for the 2016 Olympics are:

All non-Brazilian origin horses must arrive in Brazil at the hub port of entry, Rio de Janeiro (GIG) airport, for the 2016 Olympic & Paralympics Games. Since some U.S. horses may already be training or competing in Europe, the hub airports where all horses will be consolidated are Liege/ Belgium, Stansted/UK (one flight for Eventing), Miami and/or New York, USA.

Rio2016 will bear the air transport cost from the designated hub airports to and from Brazil including trucking between Rio de Janeiro (GIG) airport and the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Centre for the number of horses which are permitted to compete at the Games under the FEI Qualification System.  However, travel from country of origin to the hub airport and return is at NOC/NPC/NF expense.

Horses will be transported in “Airstables,” which are equivalent to a stall for your horse. traveling with horseThe Airstables’ dimensions may vary slightly depending on the make and model of the aircraft, but are typically 294 cm long x 234 cm wide by 232 cm high. Based on preferences, horses may be shipped one, two or three per container.  Rio2016 will pay the airfreight, fuel and security charges for horses to travel in 112 cms wide stalls (two horses per pallet) to and from Rio on flights organized by Peden. The Airstable also allows the horse to be safely transferred to and from the aircraft.  A limited number of seats will be available for attendants to accompany horses. A minimum of one veterinarian is required to be on each flight.

Most Olympic-bound horses are seasoned travelers. Careful handling keeps then calm and relaxed and medical intervention such as tranquilizers are rarely used. Horses will have access to hay and water throughout the flight. The ambient temperature will be maintained at a comfortable 63o Fahrenheit.  This sounds better than most airlines for people!

Event horses will leave July 29th from Belgium, July 30th from the U.K. and July 31st from the U.S.A. Dressage horses will leave August 1st from Belgium, August 2nd from the U.K and August 3rd from the U.S.A.  Jumpers will leave August 6th from Belgium and August 7th from both the U.K. and the U.S.A.  Horses for the Paralympics will depart from Belgium on September 3rd and the U.K. and the U.S.A. on September 4th.


photo credit: Peden Bloodstock International Shipping