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

7 Do-It-Yourself Upgrades To Your Barn

These seven upgrades (all available through Classic Equine Equipment) are functional, cost effective and can enhance your property value. These projects can be accomplished by most do-it-yourself-ers and the results will be appreciated by both the two- and four-legged users!

CEE doors

  1. Metal exterior barn end doors

Consider purchasing new metal barn end doors.  To prevent rusting, look for doors made from pre-galvanized steel, and ask about the availability of a rust-inhibiting primer and powder coating.  If you have a large opening, consider investing in aluminum doors, which won’t rust and are much lighter and easier to handle than either their steel or wood counter parts.  Don’t forget to update the track system, too.

  1. Dutch doors

Look for steel doors built with fully formed outer jambs, much like a regular door frame.  These are made to fit an existing opening.  If you do not have openings for Dutch doors, cut them in to your barn wall and then build a simple jamb.  The doors are a great safety addition and add much needed ventilation.

  1. Windows and window grills

Stall windows add light and airflow.  If you add glass-paned windows, be sure to include protective grills.  Bar spacing on grillwork should be three inches or less for safety.

  1. Stall fronts

It is possible to just replace the stall doors and tracks.  Grillwork for the front of the stalls can be added or replaced – just be sure the spacing is three inches or less.   For a more complete renovation, a one-piece fully framed stall door can be purchased.  Be sure to consider yoke and feed door options, too

  1. Stall mats

Consider selecting high-quality interlocking stall mats that stay in place.  Look for mats that have a lifetime warranty against rolling, buckling and curling.

  1. Aisle flooring

Often the existing floor must be dug out to accommodate the thickness of the flooring.  Individual dog-bone-style pavers provide less waste than larger matting, the finished look is elegant, and the surface is non-slip.

  1. Tack room organizers

Like closet organizer systems, tack room organizers have component pieces that allow endless combinations of racks, baskets and hooks to be mounted on the tack room walls.

If you handle one upgrade per weekend, by the end of summer you can have a great barn!


Boots & Bandages

horse with bootsAlthough boots and bandages on your horse’s legs can provide minimal support to the horse’s tendons and ligaments, boots and bandages are primarily used for protection of the horse.

Sometimes a horse needs to be protected from himself. Because of his conformation, his hind legs may brush against each other or he may even kick himself when he is cantering.  Or a horse with a long stride can accidentally step on the back of his front feet at the trot.  While a horse’s hoofs can cause damage, those shod with metal horse shoes can cause a severe gash or bruise.  And a horse does strenuous work that involves jumping or sudden stops and starts, boots or bandages may help protect the delicate tendons in his legs from stress or injury.

Some of the more common protection for legs are:

Splint Boots (Brushing Boots)

Splint boots have a thick and/or hard plate that covers the inside of a horse’s lower leg. The plate protects a horse when he hits the inside of one leg with the opposite hoof. When a horse hits himself with the other hoof, it can cause nasty cuts on the inside of the leg. These cuts may take a long time to heal. Splint boots are probably the most widely used boots by horse people.

When putting a splint boot on, fit it slightly higher around the leg, then slide it down so the leg hair doesn’t get ruffled up and cause rubs. Many people fasten the bottom strap first so the boot doesn’t slip while you are securing it.

Bell Boots (Over-Reach Boots)

Bell boots sit on the bottom of the horse’s foreleg, around the coronary band at the top of the hoof. They are designed to fit the contours of the pastern and heel area. Bell boots are used on the front hooves and they help protect the front heels from getting nicked by the back hooves. Bell boots are made of rubber or stretchy material. Some have to be pulled on over the hoof and others have Velcro fastenings. They should not be so long that your horse trips over them or they interfere with his movement.  Correct sizing is important.

Exercise Bandages or Polo Wraps

Exercise bandages are stretchy wraps that give support to the tendons in a horse’s lower legs. They tend to be used when a horse is in strenuous work, or if he has suffered from tendon problems in the past. They are wrapped around the lower leg, and are usually secured with a Velcro strap.

Putting on a bandage properly is a skill that takes time to learn. If the bandage is not stretched out properly with the right tension or if it is wrapped incorrectly, it could hurt your horse’s leg instead of supporting it. Ask an instructor to show you how to wrap a leg and then practice, practice, practice until you get it right.

Sports Medicine Boots

Sports Medicine boots were developed specifically to address the prevention of suspensory injuries while at the same time protecting the soft tissue from cuts, abrasions and contusions caused by impacts to the legs by hooves and various other hazards.  They can be used on all four legs and consist of a neoprene-type material to provide cushioning and are secured with a Velcro strap that helps provide support.

Not all horses require protection.  Many new riders put on wraps or boots because everyone else seems to be doing it.  If you don’t ride your horse in high-risk movements or if your horse doesn’t seem to have an issue with scrapes or cuts, you can leave off the protective wrapping.  If you don’t know if you should put protective gear on your horse’s legs, ask a knowledgeable instructor what she thinks. Explain the sort of work you do with your horse and let her take a look at his conformation. An experienced instructor will be able to tell if your horse needs boots or bandages.  And, more importantly, she will show you the proper way to put them on.  Improperly applied boots and bandages can actually do more damage than good.

photo credit:  Lauren Mauldin

What To Look For In A Used Trailer

true love trading horse trailersWhile we all dream of a big, beautiful, brand new horse trailer, sometimes the reality of finances has us looking at used horse trailers instead.  There are fabulous deals on great trailers out there, but you may have to look hard and long, as well as be able to compromise on your dream list. As you and your 15hh Quarter Horse going to be together for awhile? Are most of your trailer trips short and infrequent?  Then maybe a regular size trailer will work just fine.  Do you dream of owning a 17hh Warmblood. Then maybe an extra-wide/tall trailer is something you can do without.  Slant load vs. straight load? Ramp or step-up?  There are pros and cons on both, but most comes down to personal preference.

But there are certain things in a used trailer on which you absolutely cannot compromise.  Those are the things that will keep you and your horse safe on the road.

  • The horse should have enough room to move its legs forward and sideways to keep its balance while moving. The horse should also be allowed to lower its head so he may remove debris (hay dust and other contaminants in the trailer) by coughing, therefore keeping his respiratory tract clear.
  • Rubber torsion suspension is available on almost all newer trailers. This type of suspension greatly reduces the amount of shock the horse absorbs through the floor of the trailer, also reducing stress. There is also a safety advantage to this type of suspension. If you have a flat tire, the remaining three wheels will maintain the trailer until you can get to a safe place to change the tire.
  • There should be no sharp edges or protrusions anywhere on the trailer, inside or out.
  • Floor boards should run vertically (the length of the trailer), not horizontally (across the trailer) and there should be good support underneath.
  • Horse trailer mats should not be slippery.
  • Ramps should be non-slip and not steep.
  • All tie rings, center dividers, chest bars, and butt bars should be easily worked by quick release.
  • All parts should also be strong enough to hold up to the largest, strongest horse you will be hauling.
  • When considering construction material, think about how well it will hold up to a panicky horse, or a traffic accident. If you have large horses, strength, not weight should be your first priority.

Does this sound like what you’d look for in a new trailer?  It is, but in a used trailer you now  also have to look at the condition of all these following areas as well.

  • Make sure the floor and undercarriage are in good condition. This goes for both wood and aluminum floors, and structural beams under the floor.
  • Check the suspension and tires. Uneven tire wear can signify some problem in the axle alignment or balance of the trailer. Dry rot is a common problem.
  • Sometimes the coupler can be worn inside, causing the coupler to be too large for the ball.
  • Check for rust or cracks in places where there is stress. Surface rust is typically not a problem, but anything that compromised the integrity of the trailer is. Stress fractures are a special consideration for all aluminum trailers.  Make sure the frame and welds are structurally sound.
  • Don’t forget to check the roof for stress or cracks that could let rain in.
  • Know if the brakes and lights work (and find out how much it will cost to fix them if they don’t!).
  • If repairs need to be made, ask yourself if you will be putting more money into it than the trailer is worth. Spending too much money for restoration may make the trailer suitable for your own use, but do not expect to add that much value to the trailer when you sell it.
  • Know that your tow vehicle will be able to safely haul (and stop!) the weight of this trailer.
  • Finally, be sure the trailer has a valid title and b sure the vehicle identification number matches the title.

Start your used trailer search with an open mind.  There may be features that you like or dislike, but you at least need to know which imperfections are tolerable and fixable on used horse trailers – and which ones are deadly and should  be avoided at any cost.

Photo courtesy: TrueLoveTrading.com