Hello, North Carolina! I’m now officially up in Tryon, NC for the next six months and I couldn’t be more excited. To give a brief re-cap of the past month, the day after WEF ended, I flew to Denver, CO for my first ever visit to the Colorado Horse Park for a few days. After that quick trip, I had a few quieter weeks working and getting organized in Florida before beginning to pack and get ready for an amazing season ahead up here in NC. Now that I spend half of my year in FL and half in NC, I have to say that returning to NC feels a little like it did when I would go back to college after a summer break. Florida will always be my actual home, but ironically I went to college only about an hour and a half from where TIEC is in NC, so when I load up my car with all of my belongings (including a pop-up laundry basket circa Target college collection 2007) and take the exact same route from FL to NC that I used to, it’s deja vu. My 5-year college reunion will even be taking place less than 100 miles from me in June (but it falls on the night of our first ever 5* at TIEC, which I would never miss.) There’s also something so amazing about the atmosphere at TIEC that I’m still trying to put into words – it’s friendly and welcoming and even though the show grounds are large, there’s a real sense of community here. I also enjoy the change of scenery and I’m happy for the variety in competition I’ll get to experience over the next few months with Pony Club Championships East, the American Eventing Championships, and more. Anyway, I don’t even know where to begin describing everything coming up most immediately that is so exciting to me – the 5* in June, an incredible Hunter Derby event planned with Breyer and the one-and-only Brunello, and I’m also just so ready to share all the latest updates to the facility here, and so much more. So, in an effort to keep up with everything coming up, I wanted to share my first week here so far via a few of the photos I’ve managed to take on my camera so far, and others that I’ve snapped on my phone.
This picture wasn’t taken at 4:53pm. It was taken at 4:53am. The day I left FL headed to NC! The drive takes about 10 hours and I like to leave really early in the morning so that most of it is over by early afternoon. I listen to podcasts for almost the whole trip and I enjoy driving, so it’s not bad.
Arriving in NC! The driveway to my home for the next six months! First thought: COOL.
Freaking out with excitement because this is the view on the drive in. Gorgeous green fields of happy horses.
I am living in this little guest house on a 50-acre horse farm. I love it.
Another view. It has huge windows on all sides and one side opens up with a little patio area that leads out to the pool.
There is a huge Anatolian Shepherd guard dog who came by to supervise the move-in, after he was initially introduced to me.
View from my bedroom! There is nothing more peaceful than waking up in the morning and seeing horses turned out outside your window. One morning I could hear the clip-clop of horses crossing the paved path on the way to the field and it was the best sound to hear upon waking up.
Arriving at the office! AKA Tryon International Equestrian Center. Taken via Horse Show Boyfriend’s drone.
It’s so good to be back.
One of our first nights back, we went out to eat at one of our favorite local places. The Hare & Hound Pub in Landrum, SC. I started a Note on my phone to record how many times I go here between now and November. 1 trip and counting.
Landrum, SC street signs. Horse country!!
Meanwhile, back at TIEC, one of the main events that happened during my first week back was the grand opening of the new General Store. I stopped by on Wednesday, the day before opening, to check it out and was absolutely blown away by how cool it is. They were still putting the finishing touches on it all day on Wednesday.
And by all day, I mean late into the evening. I went by around 11pm to put in an hour of work to help. The grand opening, including a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Chamber of Commerce, was scheduled for the next day at 9am with a news crew coming out at 5am.
11:16pm! Still working on finishing touches to get it done! One of the many reasons I love working at TIEC – many times everyone has come together to get things done, even if it’s not directly related to their actual job. This is a night I will always remember as I return to TIEC for years to come and remember the evening everyone worked so hard to make sure the General Store opened on time looking fabulous.
The next morning! The General Store is an on-site store with anything you could possibly need to grab for your convenience during your time at TIEC, including groceries, toiletries, house supplies, craft beer/wine, and more. One of the best parts of the General Store is that it incorporates a large number of extremely unique NC-based and locally made products – you can pick up all kinds of neat products that even make great souvenirs or gifts. Inside the General Store is also a brand new mail center (Pony Express) for riders/trainers/owners staying at TIEC for several weeks to have their own PO Box, as well as a counter for coffee, ice cream, and gourmet chocolates.
Choose from an assortment of gourmet chocolates next to the ice cream counter!
On Thursdays, there is also now a Farmers Market out back that has products all sourced within 15 miles of TIEC, and the people selling them are so friendly and fun to chat with!
New obsession! Cool Mama’s baked goods. They are sold at the General Store but they also have a small stand only about a mile from where I live, so I will definitely be stopping by both places! You HAVE to try their breads and cinnamon rolls available in the General Store if you come to TIEC. You will not be disappointed.
During my first few days up here, I also visited some friends at their new farm that they rented for the next few months here in NC. We took out the drone to get an even better view of how gorgeous it is!
Peeps (of The Peeps Foundation) enjoying the turnout situation and wondering how the paparazzi found her all the way in NC.
Living the life.
More happy mini faces and mouths full of grass.
Enjoying the amazing backdrop to the ring at the farm.
Back over at TIEC, the first Saturday Night Lights of the 2016 season was on May 7th!
I will do a whole separate post about what’s new at the facility, but a quick preview… new barns, rings, restaurants and more are going up, and the huge, state-of-the-art grass derby field (bottom left) is well on its way to being complete soon. Work on clearing the area for Tryon Resort is also well underway.
A familiar face from Wellington. Kent Farrington made his first trip to TIEC and won Thursday’s Welcome and then Saturday night’s Grand Prix!
At TIEC, Saturday Night Lights begins at 5pm with the Grand Prix following at 7pm. There’s lots of time to enjoy all of the restaurants, live music, carousel rides, pony rides, mechanical horse competition, and more. This new “spectator jump” up near the main walkways is one of my favorite additions this year as it allows spectators to pose for a photo and see up close how big the jumps in the Grand Prix that evening will be (I think this one could’ve gone up a few holes).
The first Saturday Night Lights also fell on Kentucky Derby day, so there was a screening of the derby on the jumbtron as well as a Derby Hat contest.
Watching the derby with a stadium full of horse lovers!
A few photos from the first CSI3* of the season!
Kent on his way to the victory in the $130,000 Asheville Regional Airport CSI3*!
Pausing for a photo with some fans afterward! During the victory gallop, he also threw his ribbon to some young fans in the stands, which was an amazing moment.
That’s it for now! More to come soon as I head into my second week here! If there is anything specific you want to see or for me to write about, please send me an e-mail – I love hearing from you!