Emirates is flying more than 500 horses from Europe to the United States in the world’s largest ever commercial equine airlift.
The horses are being flown on 19 separate Emirates SkyCargo flights from Liege in Belgium to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina in readiness for this year's World Equestrian Games.
The first of the flights, which carried 67 horses from 13 countries, arrived in the US on Sunday after a flight time of almost nine hours.
“Emirates regularly carries horses on our freighter flights and we take good care to ensure the comfort of our precious cargo on-board during the flight,” said captain Esteban Pacheo in a video by the airline posted following the first of the flights.
“From a technical point of view, there aren't any significant changes. However, during the flight we carry additional personnel to look after the horses.”
Emirates SkyCargo worked with Peden Bloodstock, an international horse transportation specialist, to plan and carry out the charter.
In addition to the horses, the airline will transport 244 tonnes of equipment and 51 tonnes of horse feed. More than 220 grooms will accompany the horses on the fights.
Denis Coakley, a horse trainer based in Newbury, Berkshire, told how he brought his top ride Hors de Combat to Dubai in January this year to race at Meydan in the Emirate.
He said it was commonplace for horses from UK stables to fly to Ireland, France, and the Middle East in the winter and that there was no need for them to be sedated.
Hors de Combat raced twice at Meydan, winning his second start.
“They seem fine with it (flying) and don’t worry," he said. "It’s the same as going on a lorry.
“You just make sure they have fluids in them and they are not sick in any way."
The World Equestrian Games is organised by the Federation Equestre Internationale and has been held every four years since 1990.
This year's event at Tyron in North Carolina is expected to draw 550,000 spectators.
Captain Pachero said the first batch of horses to be flown to the US passed off without incident.
“It was very smooth,” he said. “The horses were at ease throughout the entire flight. We looked after them well.”
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