Alan Davies on flying horses around the globe – and precisely the way it works

Alan Davies flying horses including Mount St John Freestyle and Valegro

  • Among the many many obligations Alan Davies has had as a groom, flying horses around the globe has change into one in all his specialist areas of experience. Actually Alan, who will this 12 months step again from his position as full-time groom to Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, estimates that he has been flying horses for about 30 years.

    Issues have modified considerably in that point.

    “My first flight was out to New York with some showjumpers and in these instances we used to load them into the aircraft and construct crates round them,” revealed Alan, on episode 18 of The Horse & Hound Podcast. “We may even have any variety of individuals on the aircraft, sitting anyplace. I keep in mind sleeping with the horses below a Witney blanket going to and from America.”

    Now although, horse flights take a restricted variety of individuals, normally 9, with everybody being required to remain seated with a seatbelt on throughout takeoff and touchdown, and to hold oxygen masks in case of an emergency.

    The restrictions on numbers imply that grooms usually take accountability for a number of horses on a flight, with Alan taking cost of all of the British workforce horses when flying out to Tokyo for the Olympics in 2021, and earlier than that the USA for the World Equestrian Video games in 2018.

    What does flying horses on planes contain?

    So what does flying horses really contain?

    “The entire process begins from residence, and I normally depart the day earlier than to drive the horses to Liege in Belgium, the place the flights depart from,” explains Alan. “They’ve very nice stabling there so we arrive the night time earlier than and I give the horses a stroll after we get there.

    “They create the crates – which principally appear to be two-horse trailers – to the loading bay, which is a large room that’s padded and matted to make it secure for the horses. There’s a fancy schedule for which horses go together with which others within the crates, and the fellows from the delivery company go spherical speaking to the grooms about it.

    “The horses get loaded into the crates from the loading bay, then the ramps get put up, three crates are linked collectively they usually get towed by a tractor out onto the tarmac,” continues Alan. “It may be fairly noisy, with rattling crates and different planes coming in, so typically I plug their ears, or put ear covers on.

    “Then they’re pushed onto a hydraulic elevate, which lifts them up the facet of the aircraft, and pushed alongside some runners into the aircraft. The entire thing is kind of a feat actually, and might take 4 to 5 hours.”

    Alan Davies: ‘Flying horses entails loads of camaraderie’

    As soon as on board the aircraft, Alan says that flying is definitely fairly a peaceable expertise, explaining that each one the grooms, vets and riders travelling work collectively to assist preserve all of the horses on board completely happy and secure.

    “There’s actual camaraderie on flights,” he says.

    “Up within the air, it’s fairly peaceable, and normally there’s aircon. There’s not a lot house within the crates, so I normally take a spare headcollar and twine, a little bit of feed, a canister of water and plenty of carrots and apples. The opposite gear goes in trunks under.”

    L-R: Valegro settling right into a flight, Alan with Mount St John Freestyle en path to the 2018 World Equestrian Video games, Valegro leaving for the World Cup Closing in Las Vegas 2015

    Alan has flown with many horses over his lengthy profession, and explains that all of them react fairly in a different way to the expertise, whereas typically coping very effectively.

    “It’s wonderful how effectively horses address all of it – they’re such wonderful creatures, with the issues we ask them to do.

    “Once we flew to Tryon in 2018, I used to be anxious about Hawtins Delicato, however he put himself within the crate together with his head within the nook and as soon as I hung up a haynet he was high quality. However Mount St John Freestyle was a nosy madam, a proper curtain switcher and she or he was at all times attempting to look out. She bought a proper shock when she noticed the planes on the tarmac – her eyes had been out on stalks.

    “It was at all times one thing I beloved about Valegro – he trusted me implicitly to take him around the globe,” provides Alan. “We travelled round 75,000km collectively. I needed to take him on totally different vans and boats and trains and planes, and he simply trusted me each time, following me into the crates on the airport and by no means questioning that he was going to be high quality.

    “Valegro really used to like flying. It was simply me and him and we’d be off on an journey and he bought to eat tons. Particularly on the lengthy flight to Rio for the Olympics in 2016, I’m positive he was considering, ‘Daddy’s right here, with a bag of carrots – that is the life’.”

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