Horses for 2018 World Equestrian Games could go through GSP

Organizers of the upcoming 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C. (from 10 to 23 September 2018), say Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport will likely become the point of entry for hundreds of horses from around the world for the event.

However, the federal agency in charge of oversight of horse transportation has not yet designated an airport for the games.

“Clearly GSP is the closest airport to our facility,” said Sharon Decker, chief operating officer of Tryon Equestrian Partners. “We have had conversations with (GSP) about planes flying there with horses. GSP has the runway length. It looks like the natural place to happen.”

GSP is about 28 miles from Tryon, while Charlotte Douglas International Airport is 84 miles away and Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport about 200 miles from Tryon.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center was recently selected by the Federation Equestre Internationale — the worldwide governing body of equestrian sport — to host the two-week sporting event that will run Sept. 10-23, 2018.

The games are held every four years and attract equestrian enthusiasts from more than 70 countries. The Tryon center estimates the games will draw 550,000 spectators and have a $400 million economic impact on North and South Carolina.

Until now, the committee planning the event hadn’t publicly said how some 900 horses from around the country and world would be transported to Tryon.

Decker said GSP will be the primary airport destination for horses, which will arrive on cargo jets and be transported by truck to Tryon. Airports in Asheville and Charlotte in North Carolina might also be used, she said.

But the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service needs to first designate the airport to serve as the point of entry for horses, spokeswoman Donna Karlsons said Wednesday.

“The USDA’s APHIS and event organizers are still discussing which airport will be used,” Karlsons said. “Once the event organizers identify an international airport location (as designated by Customs and Border Protection) and the airport and port authority agree to allow the entry of horses on the airfield, APHIS will work with the event organizers to approve a temporary equine import quarantine to hold those horses.

"APHIS anticipates some horses attending the games to enter the U.S. through the currently approved airports and associated equine import centers in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago.”

GSP spokeswoman Rosylin Weston said the Upstate airport is open to becoming the designated point of entry.

“Of course we are interested in that possibility, but there is not anything concrete I can confirm that we are doing at this point,” she said. “It remains a possibility. Anything related to that would be good for the airport and the community.”

Decker said the process for bringing horses to Tryon should be similar to the 2010 games in Lexington, Ky., and in Atlanta in 1996 for the Olympics.

“We will do quarantine on our property, not at the airport,” Decker said.

Boyd Parr, a state veterinarian at Clemson University, said he's been asked by the Tryon event committee to serve as an “independent watchdog” and work with the USDA to oversee the import of horses for the event.

“A large amount of horses will be brought in through GSP,” Parr said. “My main role is to look out for South Carolina livestock and horses and be sure I’m confident all measures are in place to protect us."

A spokeswoman for Charlotte Douglas International Airport said the airport has cargo companies such as FedEx and ABX Air that could handle horses for the event.

“If they are able to make the accommodations, CLT would support our cargo partners wherever needed,” said spokeswoman Erika Helm.

A spokesperson for Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport could not be reached.

source: goupstate.