Track, entrance at equestrian park done

Published 1:09 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The new, 96-acre Green Creek Equestrian Park will be a special venue for equestrian events, according to Tryon Riding & Hunt Club president Chuck Lingerfelt.

It will need to be, he said.

There are so many shows now, he said. Aiken and Southern Pines are renovating their facilities. There are two new Atlanta horse parks. People are picking and choosing.

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However, the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club does have an ace up its sleeve.

The club, which will own and operate the new equestrian park, has attained five U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) A-rated hunter-jumper show dates for the new facility.

USEF has been the regulatory organization for U.S. equestrian sports since 1917.

USEF allocates the rights to operate rated shows within each region, so that competing shows cannot be held on the same dates within so many hundreds of miles of each other.

Tryon Riding & Hunt already owned two dates, and the club has secured three more from Classic Co. to showcase at the new venue.

Equestrians attend regional, three- to five-day A-rated shows like those hosted by Tryon Riding & Hunt to win points towards higher level competitions, and show dates are attractive to all those chasing points.

USEF AA-rated shows are larger, and offer double the points. Lingerfelt said the Green Creek park will be able to handle those but the Tryon Riding & Hunt plans to work our way into that.

AAA-rated shows are international in scope and hosted only by the largest national centers, such as Wellington in Palm Beach, Florida and Madison Square Garden in New York.

The earliest we will be able to use those (A-rated) dates at the Green Creek Equestrian Park is 2012, Lingerfelt said. We will decide this fall about 2012. Until the opening, our intent is to continue to run TR&HC events at FENCE (the Foothills Nature Equestrian Center in Tryon).

The construction work at the new park is well underway. The new track in Green Creek for the Block House Steeplechase has been graded and seeded, Lingerfelt said. The track is 80-feet wide and 1.2 miles long.

The Block House Steeplechase will be held on the one-mile long track at FENCE again next April, as it has since the 1980s, when it moved from the original Block House site. Lingerfelt said the club will review in September whether to move the race to Green Creek in 2012.

That will give the grass on the new track two years to fill in, he said.

There is no sprinkler system for the new grass, but Lingerfelt said William Arledge is running his 4,500-gallon watering truck over the track regularly to keep it green and growing.

The crossings over the creek are installed and 4,000 hollies have been planted to create a hedge row around the track.

We have had no violations with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Lingerfelt said. They said they have not seen such a clean operation in years.

In addition, the Hwy. 9 entrance to the park is finished, with plantings installed, and the interior roadways are graded.

We hope to schedule a hunter event at the new park this fall, Lingerfelt said. Lillie Brown and Noreen Cothran are in charge of that.

Three-day event course designers have been reviewing the property to determine if there is room for an outside cross-country course. Three day events, which Lingerfelt said are a growing part of equestrian sports, involve dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping.

The designers who visited believe there is room for a cross country course, Lingerfelt said, although nothing has been decided.

Tryon Riding & Hunt Club is currently negotiating for a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to pay for continued development of the property, Lingerfelt said.

If the club does take a USDA loan, Lingerfelt said the intention is to use the money to build some barns, some show rings and infrastructure.

According to the Green Creek Equestrian Park website, eventually the park will have six barns with 98 stalls each, a 400-by-400 foot Grand Prix Field, a 200-by-300 foot Grand Hunter ring, in addition to an exercise area, three warm up areas, additional hunter and jumper areas, a show office, blacksmith and vet building, judges stands, and a food court and vending area.

The park will be a green facility that will include rainwater catchment from the large barns to provide 38 percent of the facilitys water needs.

To date, Lingerfelt said the costs for development have been paid with donations. Roger Smith and his wife, Jennifer, donated the 96 acres of land for the park in 2008.

Roger and Jennifer Smith were the founding partners of Wellington Equestrian Partners, which operates large horse shows including the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.

In filing for a zoning permit with Polk County in 2008, the Smiths said the facility in Green Creek would not be affiliated with Wellington Equestrian Partners.