With COVID quarantines and jet lag, it's not easy getting horses to the Olympics

From the racetracks of P.E.I. to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Dr. Alan Manning has developed a reputation for working with high-performance athletes.

Yes, horses suffer from jet lag

The team poses at the Olympic venue. (Alan Manning/Facebook)

From the racetracks of P.E.I. to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Dr. Alan Manning has developed a reputation for working with high-performance athletes.

Manning is a veterinarian, and the athletes he deals with are horses. It was harness racing when he was on P.E.I., but his current gig is with the Canadian equestrian team, show jumping and dressage. The competition starts Saturday, but he has already been with the horses for weeks.

Dr. Alan Manning is a veterinarian originally from PEI and is part of the Canadian equestrian team in Tokyo. Alan joined us by phone to tell us what it's taken to get to the horses to Japan, and what the team is doing now. 8:32

"To get these horses over here took a lot of organizing," said Manning.

"It is a long stint. They got here, they were tired."

At the beginning of the journey two of the horses were in New York and two in Florida. All four were flown to Germany, as was Manning, for a two-week quarantine. From there the team flew to Tokyo via Dubai, a further 36-hour journey.

All along the way the horses were carefully monitored.

"Temperatures, pulse rates, all that kind of stuff — and when they arrived here we pulled blood work on them all," said Manning.

"Do they eat, do they drink, and is that routine for them? We watch them just really closely for anything abnormal."

Cooling off at the show jumping venue. (Alan Manning/Facebook)

They got to Japan in the middle of last week to give the horses time to adjust. It wasn't just jet lag, which horses suffer from just as humans do, but also the scheduled competition times.

Show jumping and dressage events are typically during the day, and that's when the horses are accustomed to competing. With the heat in Tokyo — the forecast is 34 C for Saturday — the equestrian events have been scheduled for evenings.

"Since we've gotten here they've been trained — since they've got over their jet lag, we can call it — they've been trained every evening," said Manning.

Training in dressage in Tokyo. (Alan Manning/Facebook)

"And that's the way we've done it to try to get them prepared for competing in that time of the day."

While there have been stories about cases of COVID-19 inside the Olympic bubble, Manning said he feels safe there. He has been tested every day, and everyone has an app on their phone for contact tracing in the event a case is discovered.

"I have no problem with the safety here," he said.

"As far as I can see they've done an amazing job."

Manning is also working at the Paralympics, but he is hoping he will have time between the two events to return to P.E.I. to celebrate his mother's 96th birthday.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning


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