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Tropical Rains Soak World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C.

The FEI World Equestrian Games only occur once every four years in Europe and the United States, and the 2018 event is currently being hosted in Tryon, North Carolina. Traveling up I-26 from South Carolina the first exit leads to Tryon which boasts a thriving equine community that is set for even more growth partly due to its favorable climate. Unusually hot and humid weather affected the endurance race prior to the tropical rains from Florence leading to weekend cancelations of events. A second week of competition with riders and horses from around the world will continue until their Sept. 23 closing ceremonies.
The eight core disciplines on the schedule for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) include show jumping, dressage, para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining. The Federation Equestrian International (FEI) is the worldwide governing body of equestrian sports. The last WEG event was held in 2014 in Normandy, France and the horses and their owners are known to travel widely in order to attend these games. Therefore the two weeks of equestrian games are projected to boost the local economy by millions of dollars including lodging for spectators and finding stables for the horses.
While the Tryon International Equestrian Center is tucked away in the N.C. foothills, viewers in the Lowcountry can watch for the daily TV coverage on NBC Sports networks. A record 57 hours of live coverage, mostly during the middle of the day, began with dressage grand prix on Sept. 12 and concludes with the Sept. 23 individual jumping competition. Videos and live scoring results can be found on the Internet at www.Tryon2018.com and the same handle will access their social media pages. The 2018 events are only the second World Equestrian Games held in the U.S. after Kentucky hosted the event in 2010.
The first week of competition was marred by the climactic conditions in place, brought on by unusually wet weather in Polk County over the summer, and the tropical heat in place. These conditions proved too harsh and the endurance race had to be canceled in the middle of that competition since horses were overly stressed navigating rain-soaked trails in humid conditions. Of the 95 horses that entered the competition, several of them required veterinary treatment on site. Tragically one horse in the race was euthanized after kidney problems, the 20-year old gelding named after Barack Obama, a veteran competitor in endurance riding.
While the worst of the tropical rains forecast over the weekend did not come in a deluge, the steady and slow all day rains did affect the WEG facilities. A dressage competition over the weekend was at first rescheduled, and then that event was canceled. For those who came to Tryon only to compete in this select event, the news was hard to hear, but the scheduled events got back underway on Monday, September 17. The rains made the public paring areas on unpaved fields to sloppy to use, so visitors are directed to park at newly designated areas where shuttle buses will be in place.
Just one of the events from the first week that made history saw a Belgium rider win the Reigning competition. Reigning is a western competition that can be viewed annually at the Walterboro Rodeo, where the rider guides the horse through a precise pattern of movements under tight control. Bernard Fonck riding What A Wave became the first European to take home the individual gold medal for Reining, beating out the top two U.S. competitors. The silver medal went to Daniel Huss of Arizona riding Ms. Dreamy and the Bronze went to 18-year old Cade McCutcheon from the ‘first family of reigning’ riding Custom Made Gun.
Spectators can also visit the World Equine Expo which honors and highlights the unique connection between horses and humans. An equine art show and film festival during the WEG will also include panel discussions and educational seminars revolving around the theme of global equestrianism. The sheer volume of equine knowledge and horse people assembled for the Expo and the games will raise awareness about this sport, and spotlight the Carolinas, for all those visiting from around the world.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutd

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (360 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com