How Do Horses Get to the Rio Olympic Games?

Horses arrive from Stansted Airport. Photo Credit: Gabriel Nascimento.
Horses arrive from Stansted Airport. Photo Credit: Gabriel Nascimento.

By Plane, of Course!

Released by Leanne Williams, fei.org

The first group of Olympic horses departed from London’s Stansted Airport (GBR) on July 29, 2016, on a special cargo plane bound for Rio 2016, marking the start of the Olympic dream for the world’s best equine athletes.

With 34 horses from 10 nations on board, the equine cargo worth multiple millions, was loaded into customized pallets for the almost 12-hour flight aboard an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F which left the UK at 15.20 (BST), arriving in Rio early the following day.

Eventing horses from Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Japan, Italy, and China were on board Friday’s flight out of Stansted, the first of nine shipments delivering more than 200 horses to Rio International Airport, en route to the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro Olympic Park.

This highly complex operation involves three hubs in Europe and America: Stansted (GBR), Liege (BEL), and Miami (USA). The competing horses and their riders will represent 43 nations from around the globe in the Olympic disciplines of Dressage, Jumping, and Eventing.

From airport arrival to check-in, loading onto the plane and taking off for Rio, the FEI was documenting this exciting transport, providing an incredible insight into how these precious athletes embark on their journey towards Olympic glory.

Stansted flight facts:

  • Approximate flight time Stansted to Rio was 11 hours 40 mins
  • Aircraft was an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F
  • 17,500kg of equine cargo
  • 515kg average weight of an Eventing horse
  • 9,900kg of horse equipment
  • 6,000kg of feed (for consumption during the Games)

Olympic Equestrian facts:

  • True gender equality – the only Olympic sport where men and women compete equally side by side for the same sets of medals
  • 200 competing horse/rider combinations (plus reserves)
  • 3 Olympic disciplines – Eventing (65 horse/rider combinations), Dressage (60) and Jumping (75)

The FEI is the world governing body for horse sport recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and was founded in 1921.

The FEI is the sole controlling authority for all international events in the Olympic sports of Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing, as well as Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining. The FEI also governs all international competitions for Para-Equestrian Dressage and Para-Driving.

Horses bound for the Rio 2016 Olympic games were loaded onto an Emirates SkyCargo Being 777-F at London Stansted Airport. On the flight were 34 horses from 10 of the nations competing in Equestrian at Rio 2016. Sourc e: FEI/Jon Stroud media, PRNewsFoto/FEI.
Horses bound for the Rio 2016 Olympic games were loaded onto an Emirates SkyCargo Being 777-F at London Stansted Airport. On the flight were 34 horses from 10 of the nations competing in Equestrian at Rio 2016. Sourc e: FEI/Jon Stroud media, PRNewsFoto/FEI.

Edited by Kay Whatley following arrival in Rio.

GAL 2019
TGA Banner Ad
About Kay Whatley 2233 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.