The 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The highly anticipated 2018 international World Equestrian Games (WEG) will be held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina. Touted as the world’s premier “Equestrian Lifestyle Destination” and the most prestigious equestrian event in the world, its competitions are held every four years in the eight equestrian disciplines of Jumping, Dressage, Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining governed by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

Born and raised near Dublin, Ireland, Michael Stone was a former international Show-Jumping rider and a national competitior of 3-Day Eventing and Dressage. In his career, he led as the Chef d’Equipe for the Equestrian Federation of Ireland from 1987 to 1997 which included as the Team Manager for the Irish Team during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the 1994 FEI World Equestrian Games in The Hague. He acted in the same position for the Irish Junior and Young Riders Teams from 1993 through 1996 before he joined the FEI in 1997 in the position of Development Officer all while he acted as the Management Director of his family’s horse feed business for five years. In 1998, he became the FEI Assistant Secretary General and he was appointed to the position of FEI Sports Director. Since 2007, he has been the President of Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) and Michael has been one of the key players in the bid to secure the 2018 World Equestrian Games (WEG) for the United States in Tryon, North Carolina.

As the Sports Director for the FEI WEG organizing committee, Michael’s knowledge of horses, the athletes and equestrian sports is extraordinary. “We really want to enhance the United States Equestrian Federation’s words and find the “Joy of Horse Sports.”

He continued, “Next year’s horse competitions will showcase the worlds best athletes from the different international horse sports and the Tryon International Equestrian Center.” Michael predicts confidently, “We’re working to have fantastic television coverage for the entire two-week event.”

A great team of esteemed leaders share in the contribution in shaping the 2018 WEG include Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions, Sharon A. Decker, former Secretary of Commerce for North Carolina and Tryon’s Chief Operating Officer with more than thirty years’ experience in business and commerce, Dan Farrell, formerly the Senior Vice President of Corporate Sales for Charlotte Motor Speedway as the Chief Revenue Officer for Equestrian Sport Productions, and Volunteer Coordinator Kathryn McMahon, former Executive Director of the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club (TRHC) who is currently its new Director of Community Engagement.

The Tryon Community and the Tryon International Equestrian Center

Michael described Tryon, “It’s a small, rural and very equestrian-oriented community. It was the original home of the USET before it moved to Gladstone in New Jersey and also the home of the 1956 Show Jumping Team that included Bert DeNemethy, George Morris and Gordon Wright. Horse competitions there go back to the 1930s.”

The showgrounds which is conveniently right off the highway with an exit directly into the Tryon International Equestrian Center, has been in full-time mode since June 2014 with 1,600 acres, 1,200 permanent stalls, 12 arenas, a cross country driving course, and a dedicated exhibition area. “We’ve already comfortably hosted 8,000 to 10,000 people during our Saturday night events and we’re working on accommodating the expected 500,000 spectators at the 2018 WEG,” Michael shared.

With adequate hotels and restaurants in and surrounding the area, the Tryon International Equestrian  Center will be enhancing its amenities significantly with plenty of parking, ample shuttle areas, buses and other ways of helping with transportation. Volunteers from both North Carolina and South Carolina are also embracing the upcoming event, “Yes, everyone’s excited and showing unbelievable support.”

He added, “We also have a major equine trade-expo, which is something we’ll probably continue afterwards to get people to visit and be more interested in learning all the different aspects of the horse. We’re working on having one large ring just for a host of exhibitions and a fun way for people to see how fantastic the horses and the people are, and that it isn’t as crazy expensive or out of reach as they may think.”

The 2018 World Equestrian Games™ will undoubtedly be a spectacular two-week experience and not to be missed. Tickets to the competitions already went on sale October 16, 2017 and the time is now to begin preparing and being part of the September 11th to September 23, 2018 event. Tickets can be purchased online at