A new report from the FEI veterinary committee was published recently. Among the veterinary concerns are the heat and humidity in Hong Kong, where the equestrian events of the 2008 Olympics will be staged.
Seventeen horses and their riders will soon arrive there from France, Britain the United States, and other nations, joining 20 local horses in dressage, jumping and eventing competitions from August 11-13.
Some highlights from the report:
The climatic conditions in Hong Kong (HKG) at the time of the 2007 test event, as well as during the 2008 Olympic Games, will be very hot and humid. Studies carried out thus far have indicated that the climate may be a bit worse than those encountered during the Atlanta Olympics, with an additional risk for rain, thunderstorms and typhoons.
To this effect, the FEI has three reserve days in the competition schedule, in case the competition runs into weather delays. The Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index may well reach levels of around 30 (Celsius) and preparations to manage the heat load in the participating horses are fully underway.
The competition format for all disciplines has been adapted to take in the evening and thereby profit from more agreeable climatic conditions. The eventing cross-country will take place in early morning. Cooling facilities such as ice, shade, water and misting fans will be available; it is recommended that all teams make sure that aggressive cooling protocols have been rehearsed prior to arrival in HKG.
At the same time, it is very useful if the normal weight of the horse is known. Horses shortlisted to travel to HKG should be part of regular weighing protocols as soon as possible.
The Welfare Sub-Committee of the FEI is attempting to set up a mini-symposium on heat and humidity between the test event and the 2008 Olympic Games. In addition, all federations sending horses to the test event will be asked to share research done on their horses with others, to make sure that the data collected benefit all involved.