Reading the horse press from Europe this weekend makes it sound like someone finally got out a world map and saw where Hong Kong is. The equestrian part of the Olympics was moved from Beijing to Hong Kong out of concern for horse diseases and quarantine problems for foreign horses on the mainland.
Last week the Swiss announced that their dressage riders would not risk their horses’ health by making the long trip, which would be stressful, to the extreme heat and humidity of Hong Kong.
How hot is it in Hong Kong in August and September? So hot that they shut down racing for the health of the horses. And that’s in a country where racing is a national sport obsession.
One person who is thinking a lot about the possibility of going to Hong Kong is former European champion eventer Zara Phillips of England. Phillips missed the Athens Olympics four years ago when her Toytown was sidelined by a tendon injury.
The Times (of London) caught up with Zara at Switzerland’s St. Moritz ski resort this week, where a winter festival of horse sports?including polo and show jumping, are played in the snow.
Here’s a clip from the article where Zara was asked if she shared the concerns of the Swiss riders:
“Yes, I do have concerns,” says Phillips. “But Toytown is my top horse and he is not going to get to another Olympics, and I might not myself. So what do you do? It’s difficult. I’ve racked my brains about it, but I know if Toytown was a person, he’d say, ?Don’t be silly, let’s go’.
“We just need to get as much information as we can so that we can make the horses as comfortable as possible. You want them cool but not too cool, you’ve got to be careful about dehydration, but you don’t want to be pestering them all the time. It sounds a nightmare.”