Olympic horses arrive at Greenwich Park for London 2012

  • The first horses are settling into their stables at Greenwich Park, ahead of the Olympic equestrian events which start on Saturday (28 July) with the eventing dressage.

    These equine athletes have to undergo an even stricter screening process than the one the human competitors go through.

    On arrival at the ‘equine staging facility’ at Greenwich University, the 219 Olympic horses horses have a health check to make sure have no signs of infectious disease or injury.

    The trunks of equipment that come with the horses must undergo the equivalent of the ‘airport-style’ security checks on every person attending the Olympic Games.

    At the same time, the lorries that have brought the horses to Greenwich are checked inside and out using sniffer dogs and the cargo is unloaded and scanned, before being loaded onto separate trucks for delivery direct to the stables.

    Once the lorry has been screened – which takes around 20 minutes – the horses are reloaded and the ramps and doors sealed with tape from the outside. However, they can be opened in an emergency.

    Then the horses are taken off to the Olympic stables at Greenwich Park, with an escort vehicle leading the way through the London traffic in one of the specially-designated Olympic lanes – a journey of around five miles.

    Once in their new stables, the horses’ passports are checked and they have a more comprehensive health check carried out by vets from horse sport’s governing body, the FEI.

    The stables are all raised off the ground, to protect the grass in Greenwich Park. There are 200 stable units, plus wash boxes and a purpose-built 24-hour veterinary clinic on site.

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