My Olympic experiences as a Team GB Vet
Having an amazing time-the 2 years of build up is finally here-from interviews and applying,the test event last year,several days in between and venue familiarisation days a week ago.
Yesterday we were in uniform as the ‘vet team’ for the first time. I am privileged to be part of the best vet team to ever have been assembled for an Olympic games. The experience and expertise which has been brought together is second to none, from first line course vets, to equine anaesthetists, orthopaedic surgeons, epidemiologists. We have a fully equipped vet clinic and lab. With us are farriers physios FEI vets who are there to ensure rules are followed, and vet techs. There are 6 horse ambulances on site, one of which has been built specifically for the games. It has a turntable on board, so that patients can be transported in the most appropriate way. This will be left in England after the games as a legacy. Our brief is to ensure that the horse’s welfare comes first at all times.
Yesterday we had a rehearsal for cross country day. We were stationed on our fences and various scenarios practised. This helped us to check that communication systems worked, and introduced us to fellow team members and the course. Walking round it on foot was good exercise, even at walk-although we were carrying a full veterinary kit at times. The fences are fabulously made, showing a great deal of thought and work has been involved, but the terrain is tiring, especially in the heat. It will be a good competition.
Today I have been on standby to provide first line veterinary cover for the training areas. All the event horses are settled in (arriving days ago) and have 5 all weather arenas in which can be booked to work. One is under cover. They also have a lunge area, all weather gallop and grass area in which to work.
All of the arenas are built up off the ground, due to Greenwich park being a world heritage site. So there is plenty of opportunity for the horses to get used to the idea before going into the main arena.
The highlight of today was the trot up, which all horses passed, although there were a few nail biting moments when 4 were sent into the holding area to be represented. I was stationed in the main arena with the horses so had a fantastic view. They all look fantastically healthy being fit and ready to run. The atmosphere in the arena is great, as spectators are relatively close, and there is a backdrop onto the National Maritime Museum and the London skyline. Above you glides a t camera, on the longest camera wire ever built. It can move from Greenwich across the Thames to the football stadium the other side. The noise did light up a few horses. But with 2 billion viewers expected, they will soon realise that cameras are nearly as frequent as trees in the park!
Now on the train home, and really looking forward to Monday.