Adventures on Horseback: Horses from around the world, in our backyard

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018


This weekend, I met people from Denmark, Dubai, Guatemala, Japan, Ireland, Oman, Lebanon, Iraq and other places from around the world. They were all speaking different languages and all working to help each other.

It occurred to me again what an amazing place we live in. Here, in Tryon and the Foothills, we welcome horse lovers from all over the planet. We take in those fleeing hurricanes and we open our very doors to volunteers coming here for the World Equestrian Games.

A Middle Eastern farrier and his assistant pose for a photo at a WEG Endurance test checkpoint in Green Creek. (Photo by Catherine Hunter/Tryon Daily Bulletin)

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On Saturday, I was able to witness a checkpoint for the Endurance qualifying event for the World Equestrian Games. It was amazing to see these riders and horses from all over the world. Hot blooded Arabs on the muscle, slender riders making sure their horses get water, stewards and volunteers directing the horses and riders onto the right trail.

I was especially appreciative of the Columbus Fire Department who was on duty from early in the morning until late in the evening. They stood out in the sun all day, handling the traffic to be sure the horses could cross the roads safely.

There was a film crew from Dubai with a cameraman from Lebanon and an assistant from Asheville, working on a documentary. Just think, people on the other side of the globe will be seeing pictures of Green Creek.

I met a chiropractor from Canada and a woman who lives just up the road who is trying for the U.S. Endurance Team at Biltmore this coming weekend. There was a farrier from a Middle Eastern country who didn’t speak enough English to answer my questions.

I have no idea what language he was speaking, but when I pulled out my camera, he graciously consented to have his picture taken. Now people across the globe from his native land are seeing his picture.

Is it the magic of the horses that brings us together, or is it just that, deep in their hearts, people are kind and open to one another?

I experienced the same kindness and openness on my cross-country ride to New York. Even those in the inner cities, those who I was taught to avoid, people I was told were dangerous, offered kindness and encouragement.

Of course, I was mounted on a wonderful, beautiful, magical horse at the time as well. 

Throughout the month of April, as I talk with those competing in the WEG trials, I have found a common thread of this kindness and generosity throughout. People bring their horses to Tryon all the way from Michigan, so the Canadians have a horse to ride in the vaulting trials.

A woman from Colorado sits on shed row floor and feeds cookies to her horse while we talk. It is only days later that I find out she’s one of the top individual vaulters in the world.

So, I ask, is it the horses? Are they the source of this the magic that pulls people together? Is it the huge and generous hearts of these amazing creatures that we try to emulate?

I will beg your indulgence in allowing me to believe in this magic — at least just a little. We could do worse in searching for a creature from which to learn.