July Update: Tour of Tryon International Equestrian Center
Back in May, I traveled to the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina for their Spring 7 show and wrote a post giving a tour of the beautiful facility. I recently returned for two weeks of the summer series in July and there were many very exciting new additions to the property. If you haven’t read the original Tour of Tryon International Equestrian Center post, I recommend starting there to see the impressive barns, rings, and layout of the property. In this post, I’ll be sharing the updates to the facility that have happened since my last visit in May (and there are some GOOD ones, so keep reading…)
Freshly-planted flowers lined the sidewalk near the main entrance where the venetian carousel greets visitors.
It can’t be said enough: There is never a shortage of spectator seating or shade by any ring at TIEC. When you don’t have a golf cart to pull up ring-side and sit in (I never have), you might be surprised how many other horse shows have little to no other options for ring-side seating for those without golf carts.
One of the iconic symbols of Tryon: the announcer’s tower.
…and the view from the top!
In my first “Tour of TIEC” post I had actually cut out where I wrote about the bathrooms before publishing my final post, and then I received a few comments about not mentioning how amazing the bathrooms are. So this time, here they are! To start, this is how ALL of the bathrooms at Tryon are. Clean, air-conditioned, well-ventilated, spacious, and they EVEN have real flowers in them on the granite countertops. They’re a far cry from the facilities endured at 99% of other horse shows. Honestly, the nice Tryon bathrooms have completely ruined me while attending other shows. Additional bonuses: the outside of all of the bathroom facilities look the same so they are easy to spot, and they’re never far from any ring or barn. Also the chilly air conditioning is nice for when you’re trying to change clothes after a hot show day and your breeches are sticking to you.
More Tryon views.
New this time: Tryon now has a Rider’s Lounge, complete with plush leather couches (one Grand Prix rider was literally passed out asleep on one of them when I was up there…), flowers, high-top tables, a balcony with a great view of the George Morris ring…
…a delicious-looking buffet (not pictured: dessert, and a basket with an assortment of healthy granola bars and fruit for when you’re running late and you’re positive your trainer is standing with her hands on her hips waiting for you to arrive at the course walk…)
…and LOCKERS! Such a simple concept, but such an amazing touch to have conveniently available in the Rider’s Lounge.
Next: How good could a trip to the Horse Show Office really be?
Well, at Tryon, the trip to the Horse Show Office is actually really nice.
Like, REALLY nice. Like, I would leave my Horse Show Boyfriend or Horse Show Dad here to watch TV for several hours while I watch friends compete and only feel a tiny bit guilty.
They also have a Suggestion Box for you to submit your ideas, for example a lazy river surrounding the entire property.
One of Tryon’s greatest strengths: Their ability to listen to competitors and spectators, analyze that feedback, and plan for improvements to the facility accordingly.
They also have computers and printers available in the office if you need to quickly print something out that you forgot at the hotel or home.
Whether you’re at Tryon for an extended stay or just the weekend, you can have your mail, SmartPaks, care packages, online shopping sprees and more delivered here. I think they just need to make “Wish You Were Here…” Tryon postcards that you can send to people who ventured north instead.
I visited the official Tryon Tack stores in my last tour post, but I have to share again because they’re great.
And I noticed they’ve received even more merchandise in from when I browsed in here in the spring!
What’s that saying? You never go to a tack shop “just to look”…?
The vendor presence at Tryon has also increased since the Spring. I believe nearly 100% of the vendor cabins were occupied with all kinds of brands appealing to an equestrian audience and beyond.
One of the stand-out vendors I met and talked with during Tryon Summer is Karina Brez, who launched her own jewelry line in 2012. Her beautiful jewelry has taken her to horse shows such as Old Salem, the Hampton Classic, the American Gold Cup, WEF, and now Tryon. Read more about her story on her website here. And if you missed her during Tryon Summer, she’ll be back in the fall! The jewelry she designs is absolutely gorgeous and has a tasteful equestrian touch to it.
Openroad Coffee, a popular local coffee shop, is also now open at TIEC. All of their syrups are made in-house with organic ingredients. Ask for their special beige latte or one of their signature Dark Fusion pastries! The coffee shop has plenty of seating, including comfy leather chairs if you decide to stay for a little while after borrowing a book from their in-shop “library”!
Stan Yoder (pictured), the owner, spoke of Openroad becoming a part of Equestrian Center, “It’s pretty cool to be a part of this. When you’re here and you’re seeing the horses and everything around you, you can forget where you are. You can check out and be like, I’ve gone away for awhile. So that’s the fun part of it. I love [Tryon’s] drive for the locals as well. It’s special.”
Openroad also has one of the best view of the rings on either side of it. How badly are you dying to Instagram a latte here? #GoodMorningTryon #NeverLeaving
Catch up with girlfriends over a sushi date because Blue Ginger is now open!
Blue Ginger Menu (click to enlarge)
One of my other favorite vendors that is now open: Tryon Treats! Tryon Treats is a frozen yogurt and candy store with self-serve yogurt and toppings. It’s also very reasonably priced because it’s based on the weight of how much froyo you get. I spent between $1-$3 on my visits, and I really love froyo. One other nice thing to mention: All of the vendors at Tryon take both cash and credit cards.
Pick a topping!
Tryon Treats also has cupcakes in a variety of flavors. They were a huge hit during Tryon Summer and I can definitely see them becoming a signature treat that riders associate with visits to the equestrian center.
Customize a bag of candy and then share it with your pony, maybe.
One afternoon while I was enjoying frozen yogurt at Tryon Retreats, I met up with Stuart Simko of the amazing belt company C.S. Simko and his adorable daughter (pictured). She was enjoying the fun play area they have at the front of the frozen yogurt shop, especially the bean bags and Breyer horses! Kid-tested, blogger approved.
I wrote about Roger’s Diner in my original tour post and it was still as popular as ever during the summer season. Their signature milkshakes were in high demand due to the warm weather.
The inside of the bustling Roger’s Diner. It’s like a fun movie-set right in the middle of the horse show.
Roger’s Diner Menu – Front (click to enlarge)
Roger’s Diner Menu – Back (click to enlarge)
Real wood-fired pizza is another dining option at Tryon. It smells absolutely delicious from far away, so it’s not hard to find.
I eat at Tryon Cafe all the time because the food is fresh, delicious, and inexpensive. I travel and eat on a very tight budget while doing this blog, and I was able to get a satisfying, filling meal here for $8. In fact the most expensive item on the Tryon Cafe menu (the Shrimp Quesadilla) is $9, and the least expensive is $4. Even the classic burger is only $7. Breakfast items are $6 or less. They also have an Express Menu with pre-made items like salads and wraps that range from $5-$7.
One of my favorite options from Tryon Cafe: the Grilled Chicken on Ciabatta. It may look pretty ordinary here, but it is cooked to perfection and the bread is fresh every single time. It comes with provolone, bacon, caramelized onions, and an herb mayonnaise (the version I ordered in this pic is plainer). My mouth is watering.
Tryon Cafe Menu (click to enlarge)
Tryon Cafe Express Menu (click to enlarge)
Speaking of lunch, this is the grazing area.
More tables and chairs have been added to the areas surrounding the George Morris Arena.
The bridge connecting the two far sides of the George Morris Arena has also been completed. The bridge goes behind the video board and over the path to the in-gate and schooling area down below.
On the side of the George Morris Ring opposite the Legends Club are the set-ups for the Mountainview BBQ & Bar and Clear Rounds Pub, which are always busy during the Saturday Night Lights events. You can see the Columbus-based Mountain View BBQ’s website here, but just a warning that it might make you hungry.
There’s a new covered area near the in-gate for the George Morris Arena to provide relief from the summer sun in between rounds and while horses await their riders.
Tryon also built inspection areas for the horses after their rounds. This keeps everyone safely out of the way of the in-gate and schooling areas during the high-stakes Grand Prix events.
Tryon’s video board, sound system, and live streaming are all state-of-the-art. As shown here, the board displays a head shot of the rider, full name, country representing, horse, trainer, and owner. They also do this for regular classes held in the George Morris Arena, not just during Saturday Night Lights.
The stage built into the George Morris Arena’s video board and bridge is put to great use during every Saturday Night Lights event.
The Legends Club is still under construction but providing great service and food options in the meantime. Going off of how great the International Club is at WEF, I can’t wait to see how it turns out – especially since it’s going to be two stories tall. It was packed for the 4th of July (shown here).
A view of the other side of the George Morris Arena, taken from in the Legends Club.
They unveiled the Rolex clock tower with four Rolex clocks, something you won’t see anywhere else.
New for the summer: this whole area has been paved and picnic tables have been added. There’s also the addition of a very cool mechanical horse that you can set into motion by hitting a button…
Who knew a mechanical horse could be so cute?
Equestrian themed bike racks!
The bustling Legends Grille, which I featured in my first tour of TIEC post. The Grille provides a more up-scale dining option on the property and is open to everyone. I have always been too busy to go, but I’m dying to do a special meal and drinks here!
Legends Grille Lunch Menu (click to enlarge)
Legends Grille Dinner Menu (click to enlarge)
Progress is already being made in doubling the number of rings already on the property in this direction.
Panorama of what’s to come… including additional rings, a grass derby field, a cross country course, and more. (click to enlarge)
There are countless people working around the clock every day to ensure Tryon International Equestrian Center becomes the premier horse show venue in the United States. And it’s well on its way.
During my trip, I also took a twenty minute drive to the Lodge on Lake Lure, which Tryon Equestrian Partners acquired earlier this summer. The lakefront lodge has 17 rooms and is also home to the Tree Top Restaurant, which has a prix fixe dinner menu that is always fresh and varied. I was actually all the way in KY when I was talking to a family who was still raving about the meal they had had at Tree Top the week prior.
All of the tables have beautiful lake views.
Tryon is also working to make the Lodge easily accessible to competitors and families at TIEC so that they can come and enjoy lake activities.
Deck with a view. Hopefully the Lodge on Lake Lure will be used for special events that coincide with TIEC’s horse shows in the future, like exhibitor parties. Lake Lure was already the setting for scenes from the famed Dirty Dancing film.
Balconies off a few of the lakefront rooms.
While the Tour of TIEC posts have mainly covered the facilities and show grounds, the big part of what makes Tryon special is the atmosphere of its horse shows. To see more photos of TIEC and the events and stories unfolding with every show, I hope you’ll view the “Scenes of Tryon” posts that I’ve been sharing after every visit!
Tryon has an August series which starts this coming week, as well as a competitive Fall series, including FEI and AA-rated dates! For information on upcoming shows, visit their official site. I hope I’ll be able to return soon and see you there!