Courtesy of H.E. Sutton Forwarding Company; LLC

Is a saddle a carry-on or checked luggage only?

May 09, 2017

Being one of the world’s fastest horses apparently has its perks. After zooming around the race track, Kentucky Derby-winning steeds are treated to their very own airplane called — wait for it — Air Horse One.

The animal-only Boeing 727-200 aircraft sports roomy, stable-like stalls instead of seats, and the very special passengers are served hay and pretzels as their in-flight meal. The aircraft can hold 18 to 20 horses per flight.

(Their human handlers also get seats at the back of the plane.)

One of the most recent lucky passengers was Always Dreaming, the winner of the 2017 Kentucky Derby. After all, only the finest accommodations will be had for the fastest (and dreamiest) race horse.

Ticket prices for such rich equine travel are around $5,000. H.E. “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Company, which owns the aircraft, began using the aircraft in 1969 specifically to transport valuable race and show horses.

Courtesy of H.E. Sutton Forwarding Company; LLC

The furry-friendly plane also accommodates other animals. Mike Payne, operations manager for Tex Sutton, told USA Today that Air Horse One was also used to transport a pet miniature cow (where do we get one of those?) and five dolphins, separately.

In addition to special stall seating and food, pilots also take precautions in turning and landing the aircraft, using wider angles and softer descents to as not to disturb the passengers on board.

Patrick Smith / Staff  

“You don’t want to give them too many positive or negative G’s because their feet can slip out from under them and they can fall down. Or they’ll get that floating sensation and start scrambling to find the floor,” Payne told USA Today.

It must be nice to be a Derby-winning horse (of course, of course).

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