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          The road to the equestrian events at the Rio Olympics

          Tuesday, August 2, 2016

          The road to the equestrian events at the Rio Olympics has not been an easy one... Let us explain why.

          The Olympic Games are coming up and we can't wait! The 3 Olympic equestrian disciplines will be present. These are: eventing, dressage and show jumping. Equestrian sports are the only ones where men and women compete against each other on an equal footing.

          However, there were obstacles on the road, in particular the presence of glanders.

          Glanders is a fatal equine disease that affects the respiratory system of the horse. It is highly contagious and incurable. Since 2013, hundreds of horses have had to be euthanised in Brazil in order to contain the outbreak. This has been a heartbreaking experience for many Brazilian breeders.

          Last year two horses that were living at the Deodoro military complex in Rio, where the Olympic equestrian events will take place, were euthanised.

          We have succeeded in eradicating glanders in most of the world. Many experts fear this exposure of the best sport horses from around the world. They think it could make the epidemic worse and spread to other countries.

          Organisers of the Rio Olympics are assuring that the facilities are completely secure and a disease-free zone. The organisers have strict protocols in place. Horses will enter a biosphere and undergo intensive testing, before being quarantined.

          According to Guilherme Marques, the Director of Animal Health at the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, these measures "will ensure all the necessary health precautions and allow the animals to participate in the Games and then return to their countries of origin".

          No equestrian competitor has publicly withdrawn from the Games this year.

          These measures seem to be sufficient to satisfy the athletes.

          Isabell Werth, winner of five dressage gold medals for Germany, says she has "no worries" about coming to Rio. "The horses will remain in a 'bubble system' where they will have no contact with other animals".

          Will Connell, Director of Sport for the US Equestrian Federation, explained that American riders were "well aware of the seriousness" of the threat, but that they also had every confidence that Brazil had done what was necessary to ensure that the equestrian events at the Rio Olympics would be safe and a great success.

          The events will take place at the Olympic Equestrian Centre. It was originally built for the 2007 Pan American Games and has been completely renovated and expanded for Rio 2016. The one million square metre facility contains the cross country course, dressage and show jumping arena as well as accommodation for the horses and their trainers. The facility is state-of-the-art with indoor and outdoor training equipment. It also includes individual stables, ice machines to cool the horses' legs and an on-site veterinary clinic. The Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Centre is worthy of any Olympic champion and their equine partner.

          Early in the morning of Saturday 30 July, the first 34 horses from 43 competing nations arrived from London's Stansted Airport to their stables in Rio, after a 12-hour flight and a police escort through the city.

          The FEI says that Ringwood Sky Boy, the 13-year-old horse of New Zealand dressage reserve rider Tim Price, was the first to set foot on Brazilian soil.

          The cargo plane was an Emirates Boeing 777 which carried a total weight of 17 tonnes of horses and over 10 tonnes of equipment.

          The horses stayed upright for the entire flight. However, it was probably more relaxing than their average truck ride over the bumpy road and roundabouts. On the plane the temperature was strictly controlled so that the horses were in good conditions, plus they had plenty of time for a nap.

          "Horses are made to stand,

          said Liz Brown, the British Olympic team vet. "Their back legs have a locking mechanism, which is called the 'brake'.

          "It's very difficult to know if there's a time difference for a horse," Brown added, as "horses don't sleep for a set period of time like we do every night. They take a nap whenever they want.

          There was also a dedicated team of grooms on board to ensure the horses were comfortable, had enough to drink; as horses can dehydrate much quicker than humans, and that they were warm enough. It's not easy to get a horse to travel such a long distance!

          The transport also took place on a "bio-confined" road.

          This flight was the first and was followed by 9 others, carrying horses based in Great Britain for riders who will carry the flags of Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, Canada, China, Italy, Japan, New Zealand & Zimbabwe. Further flights followed from Liege and Miami.

          There is not much time left to wait!

          We're delighted thatAbdelkebbir Ouaddar, a Seaver fan, is riding for Morocco. Also for Roger-Yves Bost (aka "Bosty"), who has given us invaluable advice in the development of our products. We're really looking forward to seeing them and all these incredible riders in action.

          Our great partner Nick Rosendale, photographer from Events Through a Lens, will be there. We can't wait to see all his shots.

          Team Seaver