World of Showjumping

This week

Coming weeks

CSI5*-W Bordeaux

CSIO4* Sharjah
United Arab Emirates

CSI4*/CSI2* Wellington

CSI3*-W Kuwait

CSI3* Vilamoura

CSI2* Valencia

CSI2* Thermal

CSI2* Sentower Park

CSI2* Sopot Arena

CSI2* Riesenbeck

At the gate of the Horse Inn: The jumping horses have departed for Tokyo

Monday, 26 July 2021
Tokyo Olympic Games

Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping
The jumping horses have departed for Tokyo, from Liege Airport. All photos © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, the Horse Inn at Liege Airport in Belgium has seen 247 horses divided on six planes depart for the Games with no less than 60 tons of equipment. On Sunday night, the last 47 jumping horses began their journey to Tokyo and World of Showjumping got a look behind the scenes. A special thanks to Peden Bloodstock for the opportunity! 

The Horse Inn is built for, and is dedicated to, equine travellers – with stables connected right to the loading area, where three containers can be loaded simultaneously. Each container carries one to three horses – in most cases two, since with three, things get a little crowded. To Tokyo, all horses travelled in wide stalls – business class – with a maximum of two horses per container. 

With the horses, hay and water is packed in the front of the container, as well as a so called "flight bag" – which usually contains food for the trip, a blanket and an extra halter and ropes in case something breaks during the flight. Each groom will have their own preferences when it comes to packing, but for the flight they have to keep things at a minimum. 

(Text continues below)

Photo © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping
Team USA's Lee McKeever is one of the most experienced grooms on the circuit, and was of course present with Mclain Ward's Contagious. Marlon Modolo Zanotelli's Edgar and Anna Kellnerova's Catch Me If You Can were also on Sunday's flight.

Before the containers are loaded on to the airplane, hay-nets are often hung up for the horses so that they are occupied – the loading of the containers is probably the most stressful part of the whole flight. Once the airplane is in the air and has reached its traveling height, water buckets can be hung up and the horses can be fed. All the food for the flight should be packed in single doses in plastic bags to ease the workload for the people taking care of the horses during the flight. 

In general, horses travel well on planes. When it comes to protection, horses are prepared as they would be for a drive on the truck: Depending on the individual, with bandages and over-reach boots as well as traveling boots over bandages on the hind legs. However, some horses travel more quietly with less protection on them – as usual, this is a case of knowing your horse. If needed, kick pads can be fixed inside the container. When it comes to blankets, horses are usually loaded without since it easily can get warm during loading and removing blankets inside the containers is very tricky due to the limited space. 

Due to the limited seats on cargo planes, not all grooms get to fly with their horses. For the last flight to Tokyo, the 47 horses were accompanied by a professional flying groom from Peden Bloodstock, as well as nine team grooms and a vet. The flight time is 18 hours and 15 minutes including a fuel stop in Dubai for 90 minutes, and in Tokyo the horses will be met by the rest of the team grooms and the riders.


No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping


This photo has been added to your cart !

Your shopping cart »
This website is using cookies for statistics, site optimization and retargeting purposes. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website. Read more here.