Super Heroes and Super Horses - TribPapers

Super Heroes and Super Horses

Red Bell Run staff members, Bri Martinez-Valadez (center left) and Olivia Lewis (right), help CJ Crueta into the saddle for a pony ride during Tryon International Equestrian Center's Sat5urday Night Lights event. Photo by Catherine Hunter.

Tryon – Super heroes and super horses compete Saturday nights this summer and fall at the Tryon International Equestrian Center’s (TIEC) Saturday Night Lights events. Families from Asheville, Charlotte, and Upstate South Carolina are visiting TIEC for an evening of free, exciting, world-class entertainment.

On Saturday, July 16, hundreds of folks turned out to watch the $75,000 Grand Prix show jumping. Fifty-one horses and riders from across the United States, Canada, and even the Netherlands showed their skills over 4’9″ jumps in the main arena.

Prior to the horses’ jumping, events included pony rides for children sponsored by Tryon Western Adventures and The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run. Red Bell Run typically brings six staff members and three to five volunteers to help with the one horse and three ponies provided by Tryon Western Adventures.

“We’re happy to help them out,” said Red Bell Run owner and founder, Mary Adams. “It gives us a chance to promote the sanctuary and our Reading With Rescues program.”

After the pony rides, parents and children line up to ride the carousel, get their faces painted, enjoy live music and pose with super heroes, Captain Marvel and Captain America. Other children try their skills at the American Hobby Horse Summer Series competition, in which children ride a stick horse over kid-friendly jumps.
At 8 p.m., the show starts with the Polk County Memorial Guard presenting the colors and a singing of the National Anthem.

The horses are mostly warmbloods, including Dutch and Belgian Warmbloods, Hanoverians, Oldenburgs, Holsteiners and Irish Sport Horses. Warmblood is a term referring to a type of horse, originally European draft horses crossed with Thoroughbreds. Warmbloods have been bred for generations to excel in show jumping and dressage.

Depending on the level of competition, the event includes 10 to 16 jumps of heights up to 5’3″ and spreads up to 6’7″. There is an allotted time in which to complete the course. The rider receives faults if he or she exceeds the time, or if the horse knocks down a pole or refuses a jump. The rider with the fewest faults wins. Grand Prix-level show jumping competitions include the Olympics, the World Equestrian Games, and other series of internationally ranked events.

Saturday Night Lights events continue on July 30 and pick back up in October. Equestrian competitions include show jumping, hunter derbies, US Pony Club Championships, US Mounted Games competitions, national level dressage competitions, and a country music festival. For more information about The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run, visit For more information about Tryon Western Adventures, featuring guided horseback rides in the Blue Ridge Foothills, visit For more information about Saturday Night Lights and upcoming TIEC events, visit