horses arriving for 2018 WEG

The largest commercial equine airlift ever undertaken in the history of horse sport has begun ahead of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games (WEG) Tryon 2018, which get underway in North Carolina on Sept. 11.

The first 67 of a total 550 supremely fit airborne equine athletes have arrived at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, nine days before the start of one of the biggest sporting events on U.S. soil this year.

They will join a further 270 horses coming overland to team up with their human partners from more than 70 countries at the WEG, 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 U.S.-based 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 (GSP) in South Carolina and Miami, Florida.

The horses will be flying into the U.S. on 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.

“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,” said FEI President Ingmar De Vos. “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 9387at GSP on Sept. 5.

horses arriving for 2018 WEG

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, which weigh anywhere between 450 kilograms (about 990 pounds) for the lighter reining and endurance horses and 840 kilograms (about 1,850 pounds) for the heavy-weight vaulting giants.

“Emirates SkyCargo is excited to be working on our largest horse transport charter for the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018,” said Wilfred D’Souza, Emirates 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,” he said

Mega-Baggage Allowance

The freight carried from Europe alone—not including the horses themselves—will total 123,500 tons of equipment, including saddles, bridles, rugs, grooming kits, wheelbarrows, pitch forks, and horse shoes, as well as 51 tons of feed and in-flight snacks and 20 liters of water per horse.

“Today’s a little different, because this is four-legged cargo, we don’t move a lot of that,” Kevin Howell, senior vice president and COO for GSP, said Sept. 3. “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 at GSP, 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.

The FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 will see human and equine athletes compete from Sept. 11-23 for 29 medals in the Olympic disciplines of eventing, jumping, and dressage; the Paralympic sport of para-dressage; and the FEI sports of driving, endurance, reining, and vaulting.