It was a real bummer to have to withdraw from the WindRidge Horse Trials where Willow and I were going to make our recognized debut. But truth be told, I was not feeling 100% confident about competing one week after returning from AEC, so I might have actually dropped down to Starter level regardless. Either way, Willow has had some rest and is back under saddle. She’s irritated to be only walking and even more irritated to have had to take Fey on a walk with us yesterday, but she seems very sound and is no longer sore when palpating the area, even though there is still a slight knot.
Since I wasn’t riding at the show I figured I’d go volunteer and I had a blast! My friends Cindy de Porter and Rob Mobley were working the event, and I met several other lovely people and handed out some business cards for photography and announcing. The numbers at WindRidge are not high, but it’s a really nice event. There were plenty of locals and some others that came up from Georgia and even one guy that was training in the area from Ohio. The courses and footing are great, the atmosphere is low-key and easy, and even though the weather was crispy in the mornings, it was a beautiful weekend.
I ended up being very busy. Rob had set up a PA system through the walkie-talkies and I am proud to have been WindRidge’s first ever announcer. I received a lot of compliments and people said how nice it is to have updates about scores and courses as they are happening. The system with the walkie-talkies was great because I was mobile and not locked into position in a room or a booth attached to a microphone and amp. At WindRidge, I could make announcements as I moved from point A to point B and could choose where to place myself on cross-country for the best view. There was some interference with other channels but that’s fixable for future events.
In addition to announcing all three phases, I helped steward the dressage ring and scribed for the judge in show jumping. I’m glad I volunteered, as I got to know the organizing committee there and it’s always such a great learning experience watching/working an event.
On Sunday we finished around noon and a bunch of people loaded up to drive 20 minutes to the new Tryon International Equestrian Park, which I’ve heard lots of great things about. There was a good turnout for the $100,000 Grand Prix with lots of seats filled by locals and 36 competitors in the division. I got there just in time to hear the dedication of the grand prix ring to George Morris, who was in attendance to accept the honor. I remember first hearing about the planned construction of the park at the USEA Convention last year, and while there is still some construction going on, the “guts” are all there. The rings are beautiful with little walkways and viewing areas between them so you can watch two rings at once. The barns are incredibly beautiful if lacking in a little airflow (the ceilings seem low to me, but there are fans installed in all the stalls). My favorite feature, however, is the mountain views. Western North Carolina is so pretty and I’m glad the natural beauty of the area is showcased at the park.
It remains to be seen what kind of eventing, if any, will be set up at the new park, but it’s nice to have this facility nearby to bring some business to the area, promote equestrian sports, and provide a new activity for locals. See more at www.tryonhorseshows.com.