Tryon Addresses Multiple Falls and Footing Concerns During Week IV

PC: Roger H. Goun/flickr/cc

Tryon International Equestrian Center is midway through their fall series, including hosting major international tournaments last weekend and this coming weekend. But major rainfall Thursday night tested the center’s footing and crew going into the FEI classes, and problems began to accumulate which would ultimately result in stopping the Speed Class

In a class that began with 56 combinations, three fell during the first half of the class when their horses slipped or went “all the way down” according to witnesses, and after 28 pairs had gone. The FEI judges opted to suspend the class and declare Shane Sweetnam the winner as the fastest clear round. At various points in the round, ground crew tried to manage the footing with rakes and drags, but to no avail.

Equestrian Service International (ESI) were the footing vendors, and they worked around the clock Friday night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning to re-grade and prepare the ring for Saturday competition. Organizers opted to restart the Speed Class on Saturday at noon, and Tryon paid out the full $35,000 to both the Friday and Saturday iterations of the class.

The whole affair was complicated Saturday evening during the $130,000 Grand Prix when two more horses and riders were eliminated for falls during the competition, but according to Tryon officials, neither rider’s falls were attributed to the footing. The class completed as planned, and was won by Marilyn Little aboard Clearwater.

Hillary McNerney’s fall from Chuck 27 was quite alarming to those watching it as the horse also fell quite hard, but Chuck 27 was reported to be uninjured. As of the day of the fall, Hillary was added to the USEF’s suspension list. She is also reported to have suffered a broken wrist. Shane Sweetnam and Main Road also fell on course, but there are no reported injuries for either.

“We spoke with many of the riders who participated in the class last week who feel comfortable with the updates to the ring, as well as how the situation was addressed,” said Carly Weilminster, a spokesperson for Tryon International Equestrian Center.
Sharon Decker, COO at TIEC also shared her thoughts on the incident, admitting that all the venues have been battling with the elements as repeated heavy rain showers in the south and mid-atlantic area put even the best footing and venues through their paces.
“We groom and maintain all of our rings on a regular and routine basis and take this issue very seriously,” Sharon said. “This is the first footing-related concern we’ve experienced since the venue opened four years ago. The uncharacteristic residual rainfall and related ancillary weather and storm systems we’ve seen in this area and throughout the south-eastern U.S. over the past few weeks have been a challenge.” She added that they addressed the problem immediately, and hope to now have a surface in place that will handle any and all challenges through the rest of the fall circuit.
As of the time of publication, there have been no reports of injuries sustained by horses or riders from the falls other than Hillary McNerney’s broken wrist. If more information comes available, we will update the story.
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