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Kiwi horses face long journey to World Equestrian Games

August 5, 2010

by Robin Marshall

New Zealand horses heading for the World Equestrian Games are taking a tour around the Pacific Rim and visiting Alaska on their journey to Kentucky.

The new route for the Kiwi horses heading to the World Equestrian Games.
The original route was from Melbourne to Auckland and on to Los Angeles, but now the New Zealand and Australian horses are leaving Sydney, then stopping in Hong Kong and Anchorage on their way to the US - a change which has not impressed the sport's management in New Zealand.

Equestrian Sports New Zealand chief executive Jim Ellis said this week that the schedule change was "very annoying".

"Things had been booked and they've simply cancelled the flight. It's the sort of thing that doesn't do anyone any favours at all. It doesn't do the horse transport aviation industry any sort of credit, either," Ellis said.

The New Zealand contingent was left with the choice of leaving for the US much earlier than expected, which would have meant significant cost increases in Los Angles for quarantine, "because it's outside the window at which the organising committee pick up those costs," Ellis said, or going out of Sydney on September 13.

"So it was another endurance 'rock in a hard' place, really. It's very unfortunate."

The Kiwi horses will have a short quarantine in Sydney before going on to Hong Kong. Endurance veterinarian Nick Page will be travelling with the horses, along with several Australian vets.

"The condition of the horses is absolutely paramount to what we are trying to achieve, and they will have the best of care," Ellis said.

On arrival in Lexington the Kiwi endurance horses will be based at a private barn about 10 minutes from the Games venue, the Kentucky Horse Park. They will go to the venue just before their event, then return afterwards and go into quarantine. New Zealand horses from other disciplines will be going straight to the Kentucky Horse Park on arrival in the country.

Andrew Nickalls
Other members of the NZ equine health team include co-ordinator Nikki Lourie, who is also an equine physiotherapist, British-based eventing vet Ollie Pynn, and US-based showjumping vet Wayne Browning. British-based farrier Andrew Nickalls will be attending to the eventing horses, and will be joined by Kentucky-based Kiwi farrier Rodney King in the care of the endurance horses. King will also be looking after the showjumping team.

New Zealand's three endurance horses will be on the outbound flight, and if eventer Clarke Johnstone makes the WEG team, Orient Express will also leave on the same flight, along with the Australian horses.

The issues for the teams from Down Under don't end there, with a change to stabling systems dictated by the FEI likely to impact on team spirit among all the competing nations.

"The preference, and what has always happened at the Olympics and World Games before, is that you stable your horses from all the disciplines together," Ellis said.

"The FEI, for reasons best known to them, are taking the view for these Games that they want horses stabled by discipline.

"That, logistically, is very difficult in terms of the personnel who cross between disciplines," he said.

NZ's WEG Operations Manager Warrick Allan said as well as the hassles with people being in different places around the Games site, it would be "more difficult to create one NZ Team environment."

Fortunately, the horses returning home to New Zealand are taking a direct route back to the country, and it is planned that all will make the trip home.

"At this point in time all horses competing for New Zealand are pencilled to return to their place of origin," Allan said. "For New Zealand-bound horses this leg of travel has not been affected."

He said the estimated price for the flight over was $NZ18,500 and the return leg was $NZ22,500.

He said the horses would go into a three-week quarantine straight after the Games finish, then fly direct to NZ to then complete a further two-week post-arrival quarantine.



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