Words by Daisy, The RB Equestrian Blog Dog on 01/10/2014 09:32:27
Not many of us get the chance to travel round the world with our horses but that's exactly what our sponsored rider Vivian Chang did this month when she (and her horse Nora) flew long haul to South Korea to compete at the Asian Games. It got us wondering how different air travel might be with a horse in tow, rather than a bag of duty free and a half eaten sandwich from Pret a Manger.....
A full international calendar of dressage, show jumping, eventing and race meetings has created a demand for horses to travel by air – and a whole business has been built up around it. Just like us, horses need a passport, and their carry on luggage allowance is pretty minimal too. But there are also strict quarantine regulations and health checks that have to be complied with before horses can travel, so there are no last minute holiday deals - they travel first class from door to door!
In Flight Essentials-
Horses will be given small haynets to eat and will be asked to bring a lightweight cooler with no fillet string so that grooms can easily take them on and off. The hold is kept at an ambient temperature and the ride is smoother than by road so it's better not to dress in lots of bulky travel gear which might make them hot.
Horses can experience a kind of jet lag- the change in routine, the excitement of the hustle and bustle of the airports can distract a horse from the things it needs to do to stay healthy such as eating and drinking so professional air travel grooms and vets are continually monitoring the passengers for shipping fever.
It's quite cramped in the hold once the horse pallets are loaded, a career as a professional air travel groom is not glamourous. Horses are encouraged to eat, drink and relax and there is not much time for the equine flight attendants to sit down- they have regular airline passenger seats set in front or behind the horse pallets depending on the aircraft used.
It's rare for horses to be phased by the experience, experienced pilots give them as smooth a flight as possible with shallow take offs and descents - horses tend to neigh and chat to each other as the pressure changes and flick their ears a lot. In fact they seem to thrive on the undivided attention they receive in transit and most arrive refreshed and ready to party!
Here are some photos from Vivian’s recent trip – but if you want to see how to really travel in style, follow this link to see how they do it LA style!!
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