ATHENS OLYMPICS: Olympic horses haveno fear of flying

11th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 August 2004 , ATHENS - Athens international airport on Wednesday saw the arrival of the first planeload of multimillion dollar horses for the Olympic equestrian events. Around 30 horses made the three-hour flight from Muenster, Germany, to the Greek capital in a special Airbus A300 cargo plane. The animals, some costing about EUR three million, were then taken to the Olympic equestrian complex Markopoulo. Until 17 August, a total 140 horses competing for Germany and other nations will be airlifted to Gr

11 August 2004

ATHENS - Athens international airport on Wednesday saw the arrival of the first planeload of multimillion dollar horses for the Olympic equestrian events.

Around 30 horses made the three-hour flight from Muenster, Germany, to the Greek capital in a special Airbus A300 cargo plane.

The animals, some costing about EUR three million, were then taken to the Olympic equestrian complex Markopoulo.

Until 17 August, a total 140 horses competing for Germany and other nations will be airlifted to Greece in 11 flights from Muenster.

"They are all well and have already grassed," said a spokesman for the German equestrian federation FN.

Irishman Martin Atock, who organised the flights, said horses have a huge advantage over their riders in the air.

"Horses have no fear of flying because they have no idea that they are 10,000 metres above the ground," he said.

Atock said that horses were steadier in the air than humans because they stood on four legs.

He added, on a more general note, that flights are less stressful for the horses than when they are driven on the road in horse boxes.

But special measures are nonetheless taken.

The planes carrying the horses take off and land at a flatter angle than passenger planes, which makes it easier for the horses to deal with the altitude change.

"We feed them carrots at take off and landing to make them chew and give them something to do," said German military rider Ingrid Klimke.

Atock said that the timing was also important.

"Everything we do here happens between 7 pm and 7 am because of the intense heat. It is already really hot at 7.45 am, we realised that during tests last year," said Atock.

Atock said the journey starts on the small Muenster airport instead of bigger ones such as Frankfurt because the logistics are easier.

All horses are insured for the flight by the national federations, but German four-time Olympic champion Ludger Beerbaum said that this doesn't really help.

"One can not replace such a horse," he said.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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