Traveling in a horse trailer down the highway can be difficult. Just imagine what transporting them overseas looks like.
Getting horses to the Olympics is definitely a bigger feat than gathering all of the Olympians together. While horses are used to being transported for equestrian events, usually it's driving across the state or at most across the country. When it comes to the Olympic Games, though, many horses were loaded up into planes and flown overseas to Japan to participate in the eventing challenge of their lives, the Tokyo Olympics.
Horses to the Olympics: Loading Up
The U.S. Olympic eventing team posted a video to Team USA's TikTok highlighting just how those Olympic horses get to their destination so their riders can compete in the Summer Olympics.
The horses are loaded into cargo containers like stalls in the back of planes. The longest flight out of the 325 horses was the horses that flew from Liege, in Belgium, to Tokyo; they were on an Emirates flight that had to stop for a refuel in Dubai before heading toward their final destination, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The flight was definitely the business class of the horse world! Each horse rides in its own mini stable, which is air-conditioned and has in-flight snacks! In total, 36 dressage horses were also transported from Great Britain, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, and Portugal, just to name a few.
Getting the horses to the Olympics may seem like a daunting task, but they were moved by pros!
For equestrian sports in the Olympics, there are three different events that the Olympians compete in: dressage, show jumping, and three-day eventing. In addition, there are also equestrian teams participating in the Paralympics.
The Dressage horses and their riders are outfitted in dressage style saddles, outfits, and the event is performed in a flat arena. For the dressage competition, the horses have their manes braided. Each dressage team receives a ranking out of 100 on a scoring system.
The US equestrian team also participates in the three-day eventing, where a cross-country course is made of very natural jumps.
All of the events are judged by the Fédération équestre Internationale, the international governing body for horse sports. The FEI judges each event based on standards, form, execution, and style. Final scores depend on each event — For example, equestrian athlete's scores are based on a combined score from all of the events, while show jumping is based on the fewest poles knocked down, penalties, and times.
Each event also has a limited number of horses and riders allowed to enter. Each rider had to compete in a qualifier before they got to head to the games.
Only the best of the Olympic sport bring home the gold medals!
Are you following along with the Olympic Equestrian team? Tell us your favorite event on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page!