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Our kingdom for a horse

If you live in the small kingdoms of Polk, Rutherfordton or Spartanburg, you know that the horses are coming in September to the World Equestrian Games.

Prepare to be dazzled. You might glimpse Snaafi Dancer, descended from the legendary stud Northern Dancer, or others worth more than a small airplane or our small kingdoms. 

The annual upkeep of Snaafi Dancer is more than double, perhaps even triple that of an average foothills family’s income. Facilities to house them often cost more than an expensive home. 

Yet why are these elite equestrians coming to the Foothills? Simple.

We’re relatively poor, close to international airports like Charlotte and Atlanta; have plentiful and cheap land to purchase, are located just off major interstates and four-lane highways; have sympathetic, pliable local and state governments providing expensive resources like mobile hospitals, physicians and nurses, fire and EMT substations, police and security, cheap labor, and will arrange “zone-your-way” acreage; all the while awed by billionaires and promises of their wealth trickling down to us.  We’ll even throw in new, umpteen-million-dollar interchanges, infrastructure, exits and road paving for free. 

Still, we’re providing most of this with our local and state taxes — all increasing — and we won’t be flying out after the party is over.  Does that mean our money is trickling up to them?

Polk County will have lots of parties and some impressive feasts at the WEG, but we won’t be invited. All will somehow be exclusive, self-contained and policed in venues well away from us. 

The super-rich almost always invite each other to their parties, shop in Paris and London, not Landrum and Tryon, give gifts to each other and to super-PACs, and not to Thermal Belt Outreach Ministries or the Tryon Fine Arts Center, yet still display their wealth with outwardly expensive hobbies.

Yet if horses are symbols of this extreme 1 percentism, please don’t hold it against them.  Or to our local equestrians who mostly worked for their money, are enthusiastic and involved in their vocation, some spending more than 20 hours weekly with their horses, often giving them pedestrian, All-American names like Tigger or Misty, shop and dine locally with us, and support charitable and civic events. They’re a community apart from those coming to the WEG.

Instead, go out to Foothills Equestrian Nature Center for a few parties we’re all invited, or to the April steeplechase, the best feast of all, where we can tailgate with the other 99 percent, support charities at FENCE as they do ours, spectate at events at Harmon Field with young riders, and celebrate all that our local equestrians and enthusiasts have brought to our little kingdoms.

Milton Ready

Tryon