A surprise bonus of this weekend was being able to stop by the brand new Tryon Equestrian Center in western North Carolina. I stayed with family in the NC foothills on Thursday evening, and when my aunt suggested we stroll over to the horse show in the morning I certainly did not argue!
Having been to WEF many times, I wasn’t sure what I would think of Tryon. It’s built by the exact same people and those familiar with PBIEC will notice similarities, but the overall vibe of Tryon is so different than WEF. If I had to sum up the overall feeling I got from Tryon compared to WEF, I’d say that Tryon felt like a show where I would consider taking my horse to. WEF has never felt within my grasp, but Tryon seems like a lovely place to enjoy a nice facility among friends. Maybe it’s the North Carolina vibe versus South Florida, but I started spinning my wheels about how I could show there one day instead of thinking “Well it must nice to be rich!”
Right off the bat, there are similarities. There are touches to bring the general public in like a large carousel at the entrance and I’m told “Saturday Night Light” classes have the usual flair that makes this seems like more than an ordinary horse show. Tryon itself and the towns surrounding it are not large, so my aunt tells me all the restaurants on the show grounds have left local non-horse people pretty happy. We had lunch in a 50’s theme diner, and there were more locals dining than horse show patrons.
I was there for one of the first days of spring circuit (and an unrated week), so things were pretty quiet. While the George Morris international ring had the same tunnel to the warmup area that PBIEC has, it sat empty while we walked around on Friday morning.
It seems like everything is under construction at Tryon. I saw a giant covered that looked like it was awaiting footing, plus several other areas that seemed destined by be some kind of ring. While there were people there, it certainly wasn’t busy. I also noticed way more trailer-in’s than I’ve ever seen at WEF, but that could also be that I never walked over to the trailer area at WEF in the past.
One of my former co-workers at SmartPak happened to be showing there, and I chatted with her a bit. She invited us back to the barns, and raved about how friendly these showgrounds are to horse showers. There are rampant complains right now about WEF being over crowded with footing problems, and Tryon seems like the exact opposite. I can’t speak for the footing, but the barns are lovely.
Each barn is outfitted with a real tack room that locks. There are hoses in the aisles, proper crossties and the 12′ x 12′ stalls are as nice as any you’d find in a Grand Prix village barn. Tryon is nicer than any place I’ve ever boarded, let alone horse showed at.
Probably my favorite thing about Tryon is how well all the buildings are themed. With natural wood and hunter green accents, the show grounds look like they fit in my native state. They even have different lodging options where you can rent tiny cabins that are right on the show grounds. I’m pretty sure that’s the hunterland version of camping!
I’m not sure if I’ll ever actually show here, but I hope to go back during a busier week to take some pictures with my real camera and enjoy the show.
It’s a mix of horse paradise and people comforts that make me think it will be a very successful show venue in the long run.