The Olympics are one of the most celebrated sporting events of all time. This is because essentially the entire world is competing in a variety of different events. Another reason why the Olympics are so special is that they only take place once every four years.
The 2008 Olympic Games
will be held in Beijing. This means that most of the athletes that will be participating in the Olympic Games will have to travel a great distance to be able to participate. Any person that has to fly a great distance will be expected to undergo some stress and it is expected that the horses that will be competing in the Olympic Games will also undergo a great deal of stress while being transported to Beijing.
The Federation Equestre Internationale
(FEI) began the process of ensuring the safety of all horses involved in the 2008 Olympic Games in 2007. On March 19, 2007, the Welfare Subcommitte and the FEI Veterinary Committee met to gather information and consider arrival times and flight schedules that would produce the least amount of travel related stress on the horses that would be competing at the Olympic Games.
During the meeting, several recommendations were made to ensure the safety and health of all the horses that would be traveling to Beijing. The first recommendation that was made was that each of the horses that would be competing should arrive in Beijing approximately ten days before they are scheduled to compete.
It is thought that this will give each of the horses an ample amount of time to recover from the long flight (over eleven hours for some horses) and to become accustomed to the very different environmental conditions that are present in Beijing. This early arrival time also provides an extended amount of time for the horses to be treated in the instance that they become ill or injured during transportation.
The stress of travel is not the only factor that both the horses and riders will be required to deal with after they land in Beijing. Many of the riders are concerned with the extreme heat and humidity in Beijing and have decided not to risk the health of their horses and have decided not to participate in the Olympic Games.
The first rider to withdrawal from the Beijing Olympic Games was Silvia Ikle
from Switzerland. After she withdrew from the games, Cindy Ishoy and Ashley Nicoll-Holzer, from the 1988 bronze winning Canadian team, also withdrew from the games due to the health concerns of their horses.