The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo pose a unique challenge to equestrian sport: the climate. Notoriously hot and humid, the welfare of the competing equine athletes is of great concern to the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), the governing body of international horse sport.
To help anticipate potential issues and to ensure the safety of the horses competing, test events are required to be held before the Olympics begins. The FEI studied horses before, during and after the recent test event in an effort to create best practices and management strategies for the horses who will be competing in the hot and humid climate during the Games.
The FEI study collected data through temperature monitors that were placed under the tail and through sensors that measured activity and thermal comfort. Heart rate monitors were used on the horses and additional sensors recorded speed, distance and gait.
The findings from this study will expand on an existing framework that has been in place for the care of equine athletes from the Olympics Games in Atlanta in 1996 and the Beijing Olympic Games held in Hong Kong in 2008. In addition to the heat and humidity, long travel times and time-zone changes can be challenging for horses. The FEI study began monitoring the horses before they had even left their home country for the test event. All data will be used to provide detailed information on equine health and performance in the weather conditions in Tokyo.
The study will advise and guide athletes and their home federations on preparations for the Games, which will be held at the Baji Koen Equestrian Park, which hosted the Olympic equestrian events at the 1964 Olympic Games. Since then, it has been remodeled by the Japan Racing Association. The cross-country portion of competition will be held at Sea Forest, which will be turned into a park at the conclusion of the Games.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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