In the Blink of an Eye

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

Hello sweet September, how I relish your final gift of warm, lazy days.

This year, there is immense excitement in the air around this promising month. Our area is going to be a mecca for horse-lovers from around the globe with the World Equestrian Games, which is being held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. 

It is estimated that we will host thousands of visitors from 70 countries, including prize equines. 

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These large, fancy athletic horses will be jetting from dreamy places I can only imagine to rival one another on a grand scale. This eyes-on-Tryon event will take place Sept.11-23.

Every hotel and restaurant for many miles, from Asheville, Spartanburg and Greenville, to as far away as Charlotte, will bustling as a result. Exciting times for our bucolic Foothills. Enough to make me kick up my heels and chase my donkey pals in celebration of the horse.

Horse and riders will compete in jumping, driving, endurance, dressage, reigning and vaulting, the rider doing this ballet movement on a trusty steed, no airborne horses for this leg of the competition!

Tryon follows some big hoof prints behind other great destinations that have hosted these challenging games: Stockholm, The Hague in the Netherlands, Rome and Normandy, France — such fine company.

TIEC is relatively new. It opened three years ago, rising from bare ground with incredible speed and focused determination.

TIEC is earning its place as one of the one of the most coveted horse facilities in the nation. Created by Mark Bellissimo, it attracted the games in large part because of its world-class facilities.

The 1,600-acre venue features 1,200 permanent stables and 12 arenas. It has an arena capable of accommodating up to 12,000 spectators, with VIP seating for up to 1,500, and a covered arena that has another 5,000 seats. One will find a top-notch cross-country course and hundreds of miles of equestrian trails for endurance.

This exciting venue is very close to my fabulous pasture and fine digs.

To date, I have not been invited to watch the classes or participate in any guest appearances. This is their loss, given my local celebrity status, of course.

I am also a stunning mover, and can jump, too, but I could probably ease right under these high jumps, and vaulting is not my calling. I would not relish anyone on my back for even a momentary headstand, as I am a donkey guard, communications expert and spokespony!

HERD has recently found good homes for many fine horses in our community, and some are them are in training for future competitions in the hunter and Western dressage show rings, as well as hunters’ paces, dressage and eventing. 

I will miss the fabulous 17-hand, 3-years-young warmblood, Priceless, who left us for his new home in Ohio. He’s a looker, and was in a kill pen when we spied him and said “let’s save his life.”

Similarly, Thoroughbred bay mare, Magnetic Girl, attracted her new home in Wisconsin and is thriving. HERD may be local, but our placements are stretching across the country, as far away as California and Massachusetts.

We might just see one of our former rescue horses competing at the games in the coming years.

So many things can change in an instant. My mistress, Heather, had the sweetest American Shepherd, True Blue, who never left her side for nine years. Blue came to see me regularly to keep me updated on HERD matters, as I am guarding the donkeys with Lee and John Major, and cannot currently be in the daily loop.

Precious Blue went downhill so quickly in the matter of one week that Heather had to make a tough decision. She took our girl to the vet and held her tight as she crossed over to the rainbow bridge and eased out of her incredible pain.

So many tears fell for a week that Heather had to console her heart and that of Blue’s 2-year old dog pal, Anatolian Shepherd Dutch.

This 150-pound giant stopped eating totally and laid on Blue’s small bed in grief next to Heather’s desk. He looked to Blue for guidance, company and a good game of chase in the yard. 

She had taught him the ropes on the farm and was his leader, despite her diminutive size of 30 pounds.


Within a week, the first new arrival came to the farm to change the somber mood. A tri-color, 8-week-old Australian Shepherd named Sable entered our universe. As much as Dutch protested, trying to resist, he could not deny Sable a good lick and a protective gaze.

He made the decision to take her under his care and began eating again with determined intention. To think he even is sharing his dog bones with Sable is remarkable. She is a ball of energy, and brave as can be at 5 pounds to play chase with Dutch.

Madison (front), Sable (back)

One week later, another newcomer entered our lives — 8-week old Madison, a blue merle Aussie with bright blue eyes. Unlike Sable, she is shy, and looks to Dutch to mother her, hiding beneath his girth in the yard. Dutch carefully corrects Sable when she aggressively tackles Madison to the ground.

Genghis, the farm’s resident Ragdoll cat, has taken a liking to both puppies, and follows them through garden for attention and licks. The new pack of friends is healing some broken hearts, just as Blue would have wanted it.

In the blink of an eye, the gloom of despair is giving way to laughter, joy and first-time experiences to share. Despite some sleepless puppy-induced nights, life is full again.

Genghis (cat), Sable (puppy)
and Dutch (Anatolian Shepherd).

Dutch is training his new charges to play chase and respect their boundaries. Little Madison has taken over Blue’s favorite nap spot under Heather’s desk, and smart Sable keeps everyone guessing what is next with her daring antics.

One day, maybe TIEC will expand its list of venues. I know the crowds would relish seeing some agility competitions for my new Aussie sisters, as well as exemplary talented ponies like me! •

Pebbles is the “spokespony” for HERD, or Helping Equines Regain Dignity, a local nonprofit that saves equines from dire conditions and in many cases slaughter. She dictates her monthly columns about her adventures and what a rescue organization does to Heather Freeman. Pebbles and Heather can be reached through