Tryon opens its stall doors to hurricane refugees

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Local equestrian organizations support evacuees and their horses ahead of Hurricane Irma

TRYON – The Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) may have 300 new visitors by the weekend and they will need some help. Horses are already scheduled to come to Tryon to escape hurricane Irma and more may be on the way. FENCE Executive Director Tracie Hanson said they were expecting horses from Charleston, S.C. to arrive on Wednesday.

According to Hanson nearly all of FENCE’s 301 stalls are already booked. “Everybody is in a holding pattern waiting to see,” Hanson said. “If they need to get out, they have a spot here.”

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Irma, a category 5 hurricane currently in the Atlantic, is expected to hit the Caribbean near the end of the week. According to CNN weather reports meteorologists say it could turn and head up the east coast, into the Gulf of Mexico or up through Florida and the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center called Irma, “…one of the strongest storms recorded in the Atlantic … with potentially catastrophic force.”

While FENCE usually receives a fee of $30 per stall per night during events or for layups (horses staying for the night while traveling), they will provide the stalls for free to the refugees. According to Hanson, offering stalls free to hurricane refugees is part of FENCE’s policy.

“This is our give back to community,” Hanson said, adding that FENCE was very community oriented. “Those families and horses have enough to worry about.”

The only cost to the refugees will of course be the feed and bedding they bring with them or purchase here. FENCE also asks that they strip the stalls (remove all manure, and bedding) when they leave. In addition to the stalls, FENCE is also offering RV hookups, because many horse trailers today contain RV style living quarters.

Hanson said they have already booked many of the 20 RV sites that include electric and water.

FENCE is not the only one offering help to hurricane victims. According to a Facebook post, the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) is also offering 400 stalls at a reduced cost for refugees, and Johnson Horse Transport, Inc. is helping coordinate commercial shipments to the Carolinas from south Florida.

TIEC has on-site lodging and RV parking at reduced rates for evacuees. In their Facebook post, TIEC stated there is dining available, supplies through the General Store and shavings (used for stall bedding), hay and feed are available for purchase on the grounds.

The help doesn’t stop there though. Hanson said when they housed 150 horses fleeing hurricane Mathew last year, an entire army showed up to help. According to Hanson, people from area horse groups such as the Foothills Riding Club (FRC) and FENCE volunteers and other organizations helped walk horses, clean stalls, put out feed and much more. Hanson added that the Farm House showed up with “goodie bags.”

“Last year several organizations helped,” she said.

Hanson said if people do indeed have to flee Irma, they could really use some help. “Everyone is welcome,” she said. “You do not have to have horse knowledge to volunteer,” she added, explaining it can be a big help to just sit and talk with the people.

“Just talking with victims, giving a community voice that everything is OK for right now really hits home with a lot of them,” she said.

Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact FENCE at 828-859-9021 or Anyone wishing to reserve stalls at TIEC can call 828-863-1005. On-site lodging at TIEC is 828-863-1001 or book online at Anyone who needs help with shipping can contact Johnson Horse Transportation at 610-488-7220.