This page provides a comprehensive summary of the Special Olympics North Carolina Equestrian Tournament.
There are several links to more detailed documents. There is some new information for this year, so be sure to read through everything.
If you have questions about this information, if you need help during the event, if you get lost, if you are running late, whatever it might be – call us!
SONC Events Director: Kyle Jaimes – (813) 469-4696
SONC VP of Sports: Andrea Stamm – (919) 818-4520
SONC Operations Director: Julianna Pratt – (408) 506-1547 (for housing questions)
Please instruct your delegation members to contact you (as Head of Delegation) for all questions, and then you can reach out to SONC Staff for answers or clarification.
So much is new this year, it is hard to keep track! Be sure to check out more details about each of these items in the sections below.
- New athletes! In addition to many familiar faces, we will have new athletes including two brand new equestrian programs. Join us in welcoming Clay and Polk counties!
- Enhanced Healthy Athletes! We will be hosting a Health Fest for athletes residing in counties surrounding the TIEC to get sports physicals and complete Athlete Participation Packets, dental screenings, etc. Check out all of the offerings under the Healthy Athletes accordion below.
- Enforced horse trailer parking! Plenty of volunteers will be on hand to assist with unloading tack, horses, etc., and TIEC staff will direct drivers to the large trailer lot across the street. Please note this parking will be strictly enforced by TIEC staff.
- Divisioning starting Friday morning! For more information, see the competition accordion below.
- So many coach’s meetings! Yes, meetings plural! We want you to be informed as to what is happening throughout the weekend! Please see the competition accordion below for all the details. Please plan on having (at minimum) the head coach and Head of Delegation attend all of these meetings. Remember – they are mandatory!
- New lunch location! Boxed lunches will be served from the indoor arena Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) is proudly hosting the SONC Equestrian Tournament simultaneously with a United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) B/Level 3 Hunter/Jumper competition. We hope you enjoy the opportunity to see some exciting competition. The entire venue is free and open to the public.
All of the SONC competitions will take place in the Indoor complex located on the west side of the property. The main property gates are located at 25 International Blvd, Mill Spring NC, 28756. This will be the address to use for all horse trailers, athletes, staff, volunteers, and spectators.
Concessions and Vendors
There is much to see and explore at Tryon International Equestrian Center. Over by Legends Plaza, there are many on-site dining options where you are bound to find something delicious. Tryon Resort also has many year-round and seasonal shops where you can find items for both horse and rider, including apparel, fashionable accessories, and even some delicious treats!
Special Olympics North Carolina themed souvenirs will be on sale Saturday and Sunday at the Indoor Complex. Be sure to check out our limited edition equestrian-themed t-shirt!
Golf Cart Rentals
For Local programs who would like to reserve golf cart(s) for this event, you can do so by contacting the Tryon International Equestrian Center Lodging Office at (828) 863-1015. If your program is not renting a golf cart for the weekend (or bringing one with your program) and will be in need of one for Opening Ceremony, please let Julianna Pratt know by Friday, September 15, so arrangements can be made for your program to have a golf cart for Opening Ceremony.
We are here to help!
While we are in our second year at TIEC, we know it will take some time to get used to the flow from the stalls to the show arena. Please know that all staff and volunteers are here to support your delegation! If you have questions or need some assistance, please ask a friendly volunteer! Games Management Team will be in GMT shirts, and volunteers will be wearing Special Olympics volunteer shirts.
We love spectators! Please refer to this great guide originally created by our 4-H volunteers years ago! Please, no flash photography is allowed. Instead of clapping, we ask that you employ the “silent cheer” of hand waving in order to keep the horses calm for the competition.
SONC will provide all meals for delegations (registered athletes, coaches, chaperones, etc.) beginning with Friday lunch and ending with Sunday lunch. Family members are not included in these meals.
If you have requests for vegetarian or gluten-free meals, email those requests to Julianna Pratt, including the name(s) of the people needing the special lunches. A list of known dietary requests can be found here. All requests must be received by Friday, September 15 in order for arrangements to be made.
We are still finalizing the menu for this event, and menus will be updated as we get closer to this event.
6 a.m. Breakfast at hotel
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch at Indoor Arena – Pizza, fruit, chips and a drink
5:30 -6:45 p.m. Dinner at Legends Back Deck at Tryon Arena – Pasta, salad, dessert and a drink
6 a.m. Breakfast at hotel
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch at Indoor Arena – Hotdogs/hamburgers, fruit, cookie and a drink
4-6 p.m. Dinner at International Pavilion – BBQ Chicken, salad, dessert and a drink
6 a.m. Breakfast at hotel
11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch at Indoor Arena – Ham or turkey sandwich, fruit, chips, cookie and a drink
Hotel assignments will be sent out at the start of next week.
If you have any problems with housing during the event, please contact Julianna Pratt at (408) 506-1547.
- RV Hook-ups are available at the facility. The cost is approximately $70 per night and can be booked online or by contacting Tryon International Equestrian Center.
- Delegations will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express Forest City and Hampton Inn Forest City.
- Any time after 3 p.m., the head of delegation can go to the hotel to receive all of the room keys which will be grouped by delegation.
- Your specific room arrangements will be sent to you this week for you to review.
- All delegates should be respectful of others by remaining in their rooms after 11 p.m. each evening. Music and loud talking should not be heard outside the room from which it originates.
- All delegates should respect all facility property and regulations. Theft or intentional damage of property will not be tolerated.
- No person, including but not limited to athletes, chaperones, volunteers, coaches and staff, shall be permitted to swim at hotel pools for recreational purposes during any official Special Olympics North Carolina event. The intent of this policy is to prevent harm and/or injury that could result from recreational swimming in conjunction with Special Olympics events at any location. You can find more of our operating policies here.
Horse trailers must be parked overnight in Horse Trailer parking, directly across the street from the venue. All sleeping quarter horse trailers must go through the Tryon Lodging office or (828) 863-1015 to reserve an RV space.
Delegation check-in will open at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the main entrance of the indoor complex. As you pass the main gate, the indoor complex is the large building to your right.
- Only the Head of Delegation or head coach should come to the check-in area to prevent congestion. We recommend all horse trailers be pulled immediately to the back of the building and the HOD or head coach can walk or park a single car in the portico while checking in.
- Introduce yourself and your county to the volunteer.
- Use the report in your arrival packet envelope to record scratches/no-show’s and confirm athlete/horse pairings. Leave this with the volunteer.
- Pick up arrival envelope containing welcome information, rider numbers, class lists, and credentials for the delegation.
- Confirm that you have all credentials at that time. Also check to make sure wristbands for all certified coaches, leaders/side walkers are received.
- Receive final information on getting hotel keys upon arrival at the hotel.
- Meet your delegation at the barns to distribute wristbands.
This check-in area will be open by 7 a.m. for the remainder of the tournament.
Coach and Leader/Sidewalker Wristbands
- As is our practice, only coaches and leaders/sidewalkers that hold a Certified Coach, Certified Leader/Sidewalker, Certified Youth Coach or Leader/Sidewalker status may be in the warm-up area, staging, and show arena. We will continue to designate this with wristbands.
- The HOD or head coach must come to the check-in area between 7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday morning to receive the new wristbands to be used for that day. These wristbands are non-transferrable and cannot be used for multiple people and/or multiple days. Please help us keep all our athletes – two and four-legged – safe for the whole weekend by enforcing this with your own delegation. Everyone is welcome at the barn!
- Coaches may be shared by several athletes but may not go into the ring when judging is in progress unless he/she is a leader or side walker (coaches are allowed to act as horse handlers (i.e. leaders) or side walkers for their own athletes while in the competition ring). This means no loitering in the staging area from anyone in the delegation. We need to keep this area clear and safe, and you will be asked to leave. Do not get angry at the volunteer for doing his/her job.
- Each athlete should have the number of support personnel that he/she needs to perform safely. If you are in need of additional leaders or sidewalkers, please notify the competition staff as soon as possible so we can help you find additional help.
- An updated certification list will be posted by Monday, Sept. 11 showing a certified coaches/leaders/sidewalkers. If someone is missing from this list after it is posted, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you enter the property, the TIEC security team will meet you at the guard house as you drive in. Please have your horse’s negative Coggins available to present to the attendant at the guard house. Afterward, security will direct you to continue straight through the 4-way stop, on the road to the left of the Indoor Complex. Follow the signs to the rear of the building to the Trailer Unloading Zone. Horse check-in will be located at the entrance to the stalling area on the south side of the Indoor Complex.
All stalls come equipped with mats, fans, and 4 bags of shavings. Additional shavings and hay are available for purchase in the TIEC show office. Each delegation has been allowed an additional stall for every four horses to store tack, feed, etc. The TIEC overnight security will monitor the stabling area. Upon arrival to your stall, complete the required contact information for each horse so we may reach you, if necessary.
Barn and Stall Assignments and Rules
Upon arrival, please find your delegation stall door signs. One tack stall for every four horses has been accounted for each delegation.
Stall Assignments (updated 9.12.2023) – Chart that lays out the stalls to which your delegation has been assigned for the weekend. Please only use your assigned stalls. These assignments include your tack stalls.
Riding and Schooling Times and Areas
There are no grazing pastures on the property. Horses may be hand-walked to the grass area adjacent to Outside Ring 1. All riders must wear an ATSM approved helmet when mounted (this is both a TIEC rule and a Special Olympics rule). Helmeted riders may also walk horses along the bridle path that semi-circles the property around the outdoor rings. Please be courteous to other riders as this will be a full weekend.
Riding/schooling times are published in the overall schedule; please note the times when coaches and athletes are allowed to ride. The indoor practice area has greatly expanded, so there should be plenty of room. Please be courteous to the other riders. There will be a lunging area in the expanded practice area on Thursday only. Additionally, we will have a trails pattern set by Thursday at noon.
Please note that the only areas to be used for riding time (other than the bridle path) is the Indoor Complex. Do not use any outdoor rings, even if they are empty.
Horse trailers must be parked overnight in Horse Trailer parking, directly across the street from the venue. All sleeping quarter horse trailers must go through the Lodging office at https://tryon.com/bookings/new-booking or 828.863.1015 to reserve an RV space.
All dogs must follow the TIEC policy. Dogs must be leashed at all times. Dogs are not allowed past the barn into the indoor arena/warm-up area.
Equestrian Warm-Up Routine
Check out this four-minute video for a warm-up routine to help all our equestrians this weekend get ready to go for the gold! Many of you might remember Coach Ali that led us through amazing workouts on Zoom back in the Fall of 2020!
Sport Rules & Tests
Sport rules, including Special Olympics Inc., rules and the SONC modifications to those rules, are located under the Equestrian Sport Rules section of the Coach and Sport Resources page. Tests dated 2023 will be in use for this tournament, and are found in the Equestrian Tests section of the Coach and Sport Resources page.
Mandatory Coaches’ Meetings
The head coach and the HOD from each local program are required to attend the coach’s meeting; additional delegation personnel are welcome to attend as needed.
- Tues., Sept. 19 6:30 p.m. Please click here to register and receive the link. Watching the recording does count; instructions and the link to the recording will be posted by Wednesday, Sept. 20. You must watch the recording to take the appropriate steps are taken in order to get credit for this meeting.
- Thurs., Sept. 21 5:15 p.m. Coach’s meeting in the awards presentation area of the indoor arena. Updates and reminders will be presented and any coach/delegation questions answered.
- Fri., Sept. 22 9 a.m. Coach’s meeting in the awards presentation area of the indoor arena for last minute updates before divisioning and games classes.
- Fri., Sept. 22 6 p.m. Coach’s meeting at Legend’s Grille (if needed)
We want fun facts!
Help us highlight the many athletes who will be with us for the weekend. We would love for you to provide our announcer with some fun facts about each athlete to share throughout the day using this online form.
Equestrian Tournament Program (updated 9.18.2023)- This program contains all classes for athletes for the Equestrian Tournament. Subject to change due to Friday Divisioning and any unforeseen circumstances.
Athlete Class List by Delegation (updated 9.18.2023)- This is a comprehensive list of your athletes and the events they are competing in.
There will be three gate calls for a division/class. That means if the athlete does not arrive after the third time his/her division/class has been called, athletes not reported to the warm-up ring will be scratched from that event and he/she will not be able to compete in that event.
Awards will be presented in the west concourse in the indoor arena as each division is completed and scores are tabulated. Athletes will be escorted to the awards area by volunteers; please do not remove them from their class before awards are presented.
Filing a Competition Protest
It is the right of certified and advanced certified coaches to file a protest if they believe there has been a misinterpretation or misapplication of the rules. Please refer to the documents below to understand what can be protested and a link to file the protest.
Protest Procedure Infographic – please review this flowchart before filing a protest. Additional criteria for protest eligibility is found in the protest submission form below.
Submit a Competition Protest – use this online form to submit the protest. Information such as specific rule or procedure is needed to complete this form. Please notify the competition manager of your intention to file this protest so they are aware.
Additionally, the judges’ final decision cannot be protested. Coaches are more than welcome to inquire about the judges’ decision. Please see Perry at the announcer’s booth to either ask a question, or file a formal protest. In order to file a protest:
- Must be a representative at the coaches meetings for that program,
- Must be a certified equestrian coach,
- Must be within 30 minutes of the incident/infraction.
If a coach files a protest, the sport rules committee will discuss and rule on the protest. On this committee are the competition mangers, sport development team, judge, SONC staff, and a coach representative.
Special Olympics North Carolina kicks off the 2023 Equestrian Tournament at Tryon Stadium on Friday, September 22 at 7 p.m. Athletes, volunteers and spectators are invited to attend the Opening Ceremony for special welcome messages, entertainment and the presentation of the Flame of Hope.
Athletes and coaches should line up with their delegations behind the large jumbotron. Volunteers will be onsite to assist in this process. Please be in parade line-up with assigned golf carts at the front of your delegation by 6:50 p.m. so Opening Ceremony can begin promptly at 7 p.m. Delegations are encouraged to decorate their golf carts, using materials that can easily be removed! An award will be presented to the golf cart with the most spirit!
There will be a dance party following Opening Ceremony on the viewing deck for credentialed attendees.
Opening Ceremony is the time where your entire delegation is recognized for its hard work leading up to this event. Please make your group look sharp by tucking in shirts and tying shoes. The entire delegation should dress similarly. A good way to do this is wear a t-shirt identifying the local program. As always, make sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the weather. Please also make sure your programs’ attire is adhering to Section 5.08 of the Special Olympics General Rules for the Display of Commercial Messages at Games and Prohibition of the Display of National Flags as well as the SONC logo guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact your community resources director.
Saturday Night Lights
On Saturday night, September 23, following a full day of equestrian competition, TIEC will feature their signature Saturday Night Lights (SNL) event in the Tryon Stadium and Legends Plaza. This event is free and open to the public with highlights including a carousel, live music, and the $25K Regional Sdt Grand Prix USEF B/Level 3 Hunter/Jumper competition. Free events start at 5 p.m. and competition begins at 7 p.m. The SONC Equestrian Tournament and representatives will be recognized and highlighted right before the Grand Prix competition starts at 7 p.m.!
Equestrian stall & horse awards will be presented on Sunday afternoon between the Western and English Equitation events. These categories are judged by a secret panel of experts!
- Most Creative Tack Stall: Express your program’s style! This award will go to the program with the most creative decorations and/or use of their tack stall and surrounding area. The panel will be judging based on decorations and presentation.
- Cleanest Tack Stall: Keep your tack stall and surrounding area neat and tidy! This award will go to the program with the cleanest and tidiest stall area for the entire weekend.
- Horse of the Year: Horse of the Year will be chosen based on manners, grooming, soundness and suitability. Be ready! You never know when the judges are looking!
This year, we will be offering free health screenings and information on Friday and Saturday! Please thoroughly look at the information below to make sure you know the location and time for each screening.
Friday, September 22
Where: International Pavilion
Screening Times: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
HealthFest including sports physicals, dental screening, & health education and activities with free giveaways!
Where: Indoor Arena
Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Visit our sensory tent!
Saturday, September 23
Where: Indoor Arena
Times: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
General health education and a sensory tent
Remember, if you are getting your sports physical done, to have your health history on the Athlete Participation Packet prior to arriving for your physical.
There will be some exciting incentives that you won’t want to miss out on! Make sure you stop by!
There is no formal family registration process, although we will ask them to sign-in at the information table so we can acknowledge they’re joining us. We will have some food vendors out with us all weekend to serve delicious treats and there are many other dining and snack options at Tryon International Equestrian Center.
There are several options for families looking to stay in the area for the duration of the Equestrian Tournament.
Some of the hotels in the area include:
Holiday Inn Express Forest City
Hampton Inn Forest City
Tryon International Equestrian Center also has on site housing options from RV pads to multi-bedroom cabins