When I first heard that there is now a massive equestrian compound in Tryon, North Carolina, my first reaction was something along the lines of “huh?”
Don’t get me wrong—though I’m originally a Yankee I do well know that plenty of the South is old horse country. But a place this size, with this much international influence, in the rural area that is Tryon? The town is home to a population of 1,646, and while it’s a charming place, it’s certainly the definition of quiet community.
To actually see Tryon Equestrian Center is even more surprising—this is a 100 million dollar world-class venue that can only be described as “sprawling.” The 1600 acre property contains lodging, dining, shopping, farmer’s markets, and, of course, everything needed for derbys and steeplechases, show jumping and dressage, and the stabling and training of horses.
Opened in summer of 2014, Tryon Equestrian Center has quickly become a place of international prestige, where many of the world’s top athletes come to compete. This year, Tryon got its biggest opportunity yet: The chance to host the 2018 World Equestrian Games. It’s the Olympics of horse-racing, held every four years and run by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.This is only the second time North America has been awarded the chance to host the games.
Carly Weilminster, who handles media and public relations at Tryon, couldn’t help but laugh when trying to explain just how crazy-busy they’ve been since the news of the 2018 games broke. Tryon hosts guests 365 days a year, and uses the land during the horses’ off-season for festivals and concerts. Now, they’re preparing for an inundation of international travelers, locals, and the media to all descend on the small town.
The Equestrian Center has created a space fully dedicated to one of the world’s oldest sports, now updated for modernity. It’s a proper nod to a classic pursuit, and a place where new spectators and the oldest fans can congregate. With its array of offerings, you can make a weekender out of the Center without even intending to catch a horse-related event. The beauty of the property itself is enough to warrant a trip, but the thrill of horseracing is like no other.