Jun 11, 2020

USEA Events A-Z: Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials at TIEC

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Photo courtesy of TIEC.

The Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, North Carolina (Area II) are held yearly in September and offer Beginner Novice through Advanced horse trials divisions.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) first opened its doors in June 2014 with 10 riding arenas and 850 permanent stalls. In the past six years, the facility has expanded by leaps and bounds and now boasts 13 all-weather, state-of-the-art, riding arenas, an Indoor Complex that seats over 4,000, more than 1,400 permanent stalls, a cross-country course for Beginner Novice through Advanced levels, plus ample shaded spectator areas, diverse onsite restaurants, shopping, and onsite lodging. TIEC hosts events for dressage, driving, equitation, hunters, jumping, mounted games, para-dressage, and, of course, eventing.

In 2017, The Fork Horse Trials relocated from The Fork Farm in Norwood, North Carolina to TIEC, and the following year TIEC hosted the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. “TIEC wanted to be able to allow all levels of competitors to experience riding on this world-class course,” explained Molly Oakman, Director of Equestrian Operations at TIEC. So, in September of 2019 TIEC hosted the Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials for the first time, offering Beginner Novice through Advanced levels. “Introducing this national-level event allows the venue to continue supporting the sport of eventing expanding to offer multiple horse trials annually.”

A bird's eye view of the Tryon International Equestrian Center. Photo courtesy of TIEC.

From competition organizer Shelley Page to cross-country course designers Captain Mark Phillips and John Michael Durr and course builder Eric Bull, competitors at the Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials benefit from the expertise of a world-class team. “We are blessed to have some of the world’s most renowned eventing officials, organizers, jump, and course builders on our team,” Oakman said. “Our in-house turf team is led by a highly-respected agronomist, Daniel Fradley, and he and his crew take incredible care of our White Oak cross-country course. No cross-country event is possible without the efforts from an incredible team of volunteers and TIEC staff supporting all aspects of this event from safety, communications, and hospitality.”

The White Oak cross-country course, which was the site of the eventing cross-country and combined driving competitions for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, is now the home of the cross-country course for every level of competition at the Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials from Beginner Novice to Advanced. Originally a golf course that was scientifically redesigned for cross-country, riders are hard-pressed to find better footing anywhere else in the country. “Featuring rolling hills that reflect the natural terrain, several water complexes, bridges, and more, the White Oak cross-country course is an iconic track for any competitor’s bucket list,” Oakman said.

Photo courtesy of TIEC.

“Cross-country day is always a highlight in the spring and fall at TIEC,” Oakman continued, “showcasing such a unique course featuring our regional icons and symbolic jumps such as Chimney Rock, the Overmountain Victory Trail Wall, and the Coastal Carolinas water jump complex. The team at TIEC enjoy sharing this unique, character-filled venue with the eventing world.”

New this year, TIEC is set to debut a cross-country schooling course this August. Because the White Oak cross-country course is only open for competition, this new schooling course will give riders the opportunity to school cross-country at TIEC. “[This new course will have] access to all levels of jumps designed by John Michael Durr in the Glades area, including the infamous mile-long gallop uphill,” Oakman shared. “Participants in the Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials will be encouraged to arrive early (or stay later) to take advantage of this training opportunity.”

Photo courtesy of TIEC.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center was designed to be an equestrian’s paradise, and the team at TIEC has worked hard to make that dream come alive. “From carousel to competition, the mission of Tryon Resort is to celebrate the magic of the horse, grow equestrian sport, and increase access to this beloved animal,” Oakman shared. “Tryon Resort is for all who love horses, outdoor living, and an active lifestyle, and seeks to offer a world-class experience for all levels of competitors. The Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials allows for all national level competitors to have the same experience as the world’s best professional athletes, offers increased exposure and access to the sport of eventing, and celebrates the multidiscipline nature of the venue.”

“We are here for all who love horses,” Oakman concluded. “If you’ve ridden in hundreds of horse trials or you want to compete in your first one, this venue is made for you. All of the courses will run down at the fully irrigated White Oak course and feature show jumping in the International Stadium and Tryon Stadium.”

The USEA is profiling the history behind all USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A­-Z series.

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