The Breeders’ Cup Championships at Keeneland are November 4th and 5th.
Which means horses from around the world will start shipping into Lexington within the next couple of weeks
There will be some big frequent flyers at Keeneland for BC weekend. BIG as in over seven feet tall and weigh around 1000 pounds.
But the vast size of the horses does not keep them from logging millions of air miles annually, as the horses and their connections pursue the fame and fortune that looms in big races such as the Breeders’ Cup.
But you need not worry that your flight might be ruined by hay fever or the stench of manure. No, a high percentage of domestic horse miles flown each year are aboard a single aircraft appropriately called Air Horse One.
Given the big money purses and breeding values of today’s upper echelon of equine, this is not as crazy as it sounds. The aircraft is a Boeing 727 cargo plane that can carry 18-20 horses per flight.
Each horse is loaded separately and it’s stall is assembled around each equine passenger. Each horse has in air refreshments in the shape of hay and water and their groom is able to travel with them too. (The grooms have regular seats at the back of the plane in case you wondered!)
The comfort of the horses is the priority as this plane is normally filled with expensive horses on the way to races or competitions. An average plane can be filled with between $50 million – $500 million worth of horse!
With this in mind the pilot makes wide turns when flying and ensures extra smooth ascends and descends so the horses don’t lose their balance and get frightened.
Each one way flight is said to cost just under $5000 and it has been reported that celebrity horse owners have chartered the entire plane which would cost considerably more!
During the flight there are specially trained flight crew members to ensure the needs of each horse are met.
Air Horse One is only available to fly in the U.S, Canada and Mexico.
However, the use of planes to transport horses is becoming more popular due to research showing that tractor-trailer trips (especially in the U.S as distances could be very long in between competitions) are more of a burden on the health of these fit competition horses.
Air Horse One flights rarely run longer than four hours.
As most of the horses that travel by air are experienced competition horses used to travelling up and down the country in a tractor-trailer they don’t have many problems with the horses staying calm.
If there is a problem it is normally when the horse first boards the plane and the grooms do what they can to calm the horse down, if that doesn’t work they just remove the horse from the plane.
A tranquillizer is available if necessary on the plane, but it rarely is.
If a horse needs a travelling buddy (some horses will stay calm if their friend – whether it be a goat or pony travels with them) they are welcome aboard too!
Fly The Stallion Skies.