David’s Diary from Tokyo – 30/07/21


A welcome rest day for everyone. This was perfectly timed for me as I had a visit from Sebastian Racinais of the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission who heads up the human heat management programme. Of course, we had a lot in common and he spent an hour with me and was very interested in the human-horse comparison and particularly our use of thermal imaging. We have exactly the same approach to cooling as the human side. He said their first step in heatstroke is whole-body immersion in ice baths! Even before they take ECG, bloods, etc. The only thing that would come at a higher priority is cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. He also showed me some of the latest tech which has been developed for the human side. It also turns out we use the same devices as you can see below. He is keen to keep in contact and exchange more data after the Games.

The first flight of 36 dressage horses leaves this evening around midnight with a take-off around 5:00 am tomorrow from Haneda with 38 horses leaving the venue midnight tomorrow night with the same flight time of 5:00 am on Sunday.  As a result, a lot of horses are out getting hand walked. We wish them all a safe flight.

The most coveted items and probably most “borrowed” are golf carts, fridges, and coffee machines. And there is often unofficial trading that goes on. The farriers have tried to ensure theirs does not get “borrowed”. Head farrier Ben Benson from the UK below.

Each area of the Games has its own complexity. Below is the watering plan for the different arenas today calculated based on the surface testing team and which also has to fit around the two eventing dressage sessions.

And if you still don’t believe this venue is a Grooms dream, how about the washing machines, driers and freezers in each barn.

So today is the first session of the eventing dressage. Eventing is the only discipline to have morning sessions (8:30 to 11:00 am) and today there is an evening session from 5:30 to 8:10 pm.   At around 11am today the WBGT index was 29°C and currently this afternoon before the session it’s close to 30°C. To give you an idea, if you walk at normal speed outside in WBGT of 30°C you will be sweating significantly in 5-10 minutes.

However, I missed most of the eventing dressage as I was out at the cross-country venue at Sea Forest Park with Jenny Hall, head of the FEI Veterinary Committee putting up temperature and humidity loggers in the two blocks of temporary stables and checking the air quality before the horses arrive tomorrow afternoon ready for Sunday morning’s cross-country.  We also walked part of the course and caught up with the Irish eventers walking the course at the water complex.

We have frequent reminders that the cross-country is on the flight path into Haneda, depending on the wind direction.

The photos below show the tunnel for horses and people to access the South Stables where the German and USA teams are housed. These are slightly different stables in that the groom’s accommodation is directly above the stables and they also have their own arena.

Although it’s pretty warm these clouds look a little ominous and in fact with 1 hour to go to the afternoon dressage session it just started raining. Not particularly hard, but it will push up the humidity.

Finally, on my afternoon rounds, I bumped into Holly Smith’s Denver just going out for a walk who is looking in fantastic condition.



About Author

Dr David Marlin is a physiologist and biochemist who has worked in academia, research and professional sport. He has worked in the equestrian and veterinary world and in human sport, healthcare, medicine and exercise science. In 1989 David obtained his PhD from the UK’s leading sports university, Loughborough University following a four-year study on the responses of Thoroughbred racehorses to exercise and training, undertaken at the renowned Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. You can read David's full biography in the Our Website section.