How do horses fly? Very carefully

Horses fly into town for the Las Vegas FEI World Cup

If you were in Las Vegas earlier this week and thought you saw 40 horses at the airport, don't worry, you weren't drunk. You really saw 40 horses.

The FEI World Cup Jumping and Dressage finals are in Vegas Wednesday through Sunday, but most of the horses arrived early to get acclimated to their temporary home.

Tim Dutta is the man in charge of transporting many of the world’s elite horses from Europe to Vegas.

"There's a group of companies involved in air transportation of horses, and we work well together. We are all horseman first -- this job needs to be done by horsemen, and all our staff are also experienced horse people,” Dutta said.

The horses departed from Schiphol, Netherlands, and arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday. On the flight were 10 groomsmen and veterinarian Jan-Hein Swagemakers.

According to Dutta, each horse is allocated the equivalent of almost two stalls on the plane, and "we pay attention to each horse’s little idiosyncrasies and requirements -- do they like wet hay or not? Do we use sea salt to encourage them to drink? I like them all to have a haynet so they can at least pick at it during the flight and have something in their belly. Some grooms like to feed them a bran mash midflight, but others don’t eat much at all. I like to give them carrots. Horses see them as a treat and associate them with feeling good and being rewarded, so it helps them to settle.

"The grooms are there to help them with their comfort and safety, he said, but I like the horses to have some quiet time too, they need that. So when the aircraft is at cruise then they are left alone for a while, to have a snooze and relax, without being bothered by anyone.”

The horses, who spent about 11 1/2 hours in the air, got a health check before they ere allowed on the plane. They even had their own passports. On landing, blood was taken to test for diseases. And you thought you had it bad in coach.

No word if there was a movie on the flight, but if there was, here's guessing it was a double feature: "Secretariat" and "Gus."

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