The FEI World Equestrian Games are happening this week and next at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, NC. Almost 400,000 horse lovers are expected to attend the competitive events.
Whether you’re a Polk County native or visiting from overseas, there’s a lot to keep track of! Here’s everything you need to know about the FEI World Equestrian Games.
What are the FEI World Equestrian Games?
The FEI World Equestrian Games take place every four years in the middle of the Olympics cycle and is one of the biggest events in the global sporting calendar. In fact, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, “WEG is the pinnacle of equestrian events in the world this year … and is perhaps the biggest sporting event to ever land in North Carolina.”
Several thousand horses and human riders from all over the world will compete in eight disciplines over the course of 13 days:
Individual event tickets and day passes are still available. Equestrian-focused demonstrations and exhibitions will also be held throughout the games.
When are the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games?
Tuesday, September 11, 2018–Sunday, September 23, 2018
The opening ceremony for the World Equestrian Games takes place on Tuesday, September 11 at 6:00pm. Opening remarks will kick off the event, followed by a sold-out concert. Asheville local Joe Lasher opens for country music star Hunter Hayes. Gates open at 3:00pm, and if you were lucky enough to score a ticket, you should still anticipate a $20 parking fee. Admission and parking are free on Monday, September 17.
See the complete schedule of 2018 WEG events: tryon2018.com/page/official-schedule-by-day
Tell Me a Little about Tryon and the Tryon International Equestrian Center
Tryon’s long and storied equestrian history started in 1917 with the Pine Crest Inn, a renowned spot where northerners could come and ride their horses during the winter. The Tryon Horse Show began in 1929 (the third oldest of its kind in the country) and the Block House Steeplechase in 1934. In 1956, the US Equestrian Team trained in Tryon for the Olympics.
Opened in 2014, the $100 million, 1,450-acre Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) takes a love for horses to the next level. TIEC features 10 riding arenas, over 1,000 permanent stalls, elevated and shaded viewing decks, family activities, boutiques, and more. TIEC also has seven restaurants on their grounds, as well as a food truck village.
In part because of TIEC, Tryon is now mentioned in the same breath the equestrian cities of Lexington and Saratoga.
Who will be Competing in the World Equestrian Games for Team USA?
Nearly 850 athletes and their horses have flown into Polk County from 71 countries. The vast majority of competitors are from abroad, including Olympians, world champions, Sheiks and princes, and even teenagers from Texas. Only 39 horse and rider pairs will be competing for Team USA.
Competing for Team USA is Boyd Martin, an Australian rider who competed in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics. Martin is considered one of the top event riders in the world. Keep an eye out for him and his Trakehner gelding named Tsetserleg.
Locally, only one athlete from North Carolina is enrolled in the WEG. Julio Mendoza lives 10 minutes from TIEC, but he’s competing for his native Ecuador. Mendoza is still someone to cheer for, though. He is the first athlete representing Ecuador in dressage at the WEG.
How did the Horses Get to Western North Carolina?
Flying horses overseas requires considerably more than a checked baggage fee. Transportation of these world-class competitors takes careful planning and coordination. Two equine transport agencies have been designated at the official “travel agencies” for the horses: Peden Bloodstock (Germany) and The Dutta Corporation (U.S.). After booking their flights, the horses flew into one of four designated points of entry: Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Miami International Airport, or John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York. The location at which the horses arrived depended on from where in the world they were coming.
Do We Need to Worry about Hurricane Florence?
The World Equestrian Games are currently scheduled to go forward as planned.
When TIEC agreed to host the 2018 WEG two years ago, there was no way to predict the weather forecast. Suffice it to say, no one anticipated a hurricane sweeping through the Carolinas the week of the games. But TIEC has made ample strategic and emergency preparations for the protection of the animals and people at their facility.
See the 2018 WEG weather updates: tryon2018.com/article/tryon-2018-weather-updates
Attendees are not allowed to bring umbrellas into the stadium. If you’re heading out to an event, plan ahead by packing a rain jacket or poncho to wear in case of bad weather. Jackets and ponchos can also be purchased on site.
Can I Watch the World Equestrian Games from Home?
No tickets? No worries. Starting tomorrow (Tuesday, September 12), NBC Sports plans to air 65 hours of WEG coverage, most of them live, from NBC, NBCSN, and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. You can also subscribe to FEI.TV online for additional live coverage from Federation Equestre Internationale, the international governing body of equestrian sports.
What Else Can I do in Tryon and Polk County?
Touted as the “First Peak of the Blue Ridge,” Polk County has long welcomed flatlanders to a higher altitude. The elevation of Polk County ranges from just under 800 feet near the confluence of the Green River and Broad River to over 3,200 feet on Tryon Peak and Wildcat Spur. The area’s foothills are rich with history, culture, crafts, vast natural areas, and unique culinary traditions.
Learn more about fun things to do in Polk County, NC: beverly-hanks.com/blog/polk-county
Are you excited about the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games? Let us know in the comments.