Enjoy the luxury of privacy in scenic North Carolina horse country.
Published Spring 2013
As you drive along the pebble-covered road leading to the Red Horse Inn near the equestrian village of Tryon, N.C., it’s a bit like driving into a tunnel — you’re not really sure what’s going to be on the other side, and there’s an anticipation in the air of excitement and unknowing.
And just as you make the turn towards the main inn, the entire world seems to open up before you. Acres of sprawling greenery, a white-fenced paddock the size of a football field, and in the distance, six individual cottages sprinkled about.
Horses are an integral part of the culture of the area. The surrounding region — known as the Carolina Foothills — has been recognized for its relaxed lifestyle, mild temperatures, and its allure for horse-lovers for decades. Located in a temperate region of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Tryon is the largest town in the area, though its population is a modest 1,795.
The town is vibrant and creative. More than half of Tryon’s full-time residents are “transplants” from other areas who have helped to create a thriving cultural center that attracts writers, educators, and an array of artists to the area. Tryon is also experiencing a rebirth in vineyards that produce grapes for winemaking, including the World’s First Red Chardonnay.
Horses are central to the Red Horse Inn as well. While guests enjoy a glass of wine on their porch, locals will trot past on any of the dozens of trails throughout the inn’s grounds. Innkeepers Mary and Roger Wolters have always had a love of horses and have always had one on the property. And now, Secret, a Secretariat descendant, is Mary’s latest adventure. Secret was only 9 months old when she first came to the inn. Previously, she was living mostly in the wild — having never been touched or trained. When Mary brought her in, the horse would bite, kick, and fight if anyone tried to touch her. Through Mary’s “gentle” training, a technique depicted in the Horse Whisperer, Secret has quickly become an esteemed member of the Red Horse Inn family. Guests, fascinated and curious, continue to check in to see how Secret is doing, long after their visit. Mary invites her guests to come out and watch as she “gentles” Secret every Saturday.
The Luxury of Privacy
The AAA Four Diamond inn, which Mary and Roger built themselves from the ground up in 1995, is a different kind of luxury experience. The luxury of sitting in a rocking chair, watching the sun set. The luxury of sleeping in as late as you want. The luxury of doing nothing at all. The luxury of being left alone.
That’s why the Wolters’ began providing breakfast in the rooms.
“Very early on, our guests showed us that they liked to have breakfast in their own space. We cater to their needs for aloneness. Some couples check in and we don’t see them again until they check out,” says Mary. So, upon check-in, you find your in-room refrigerator fully stocked with quiches, omelets, muffins, yogurt parfaits, and more.
Guests can choose to stay in the main inn or in one of the private cottages on the 200-acre estate. (Cottages start at $210/night; inn rooms start at $175/night.) Each of the spaces offers a king-or queen-size bed, fireplace, private bathroom, whirlpool tub, microwave, and mini-fridge. Wolters and her husband, both former artists and graduates of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, designed each room and cottage to tell its own story.
If you do decide to leave your four walls during your stay, the Wolters’ will be the first to tell you about all there is to do in the surrounding area. In fact, they’ve created a number of self-guided tours that guests can use to explore the area, which is packed with waterfalls, horse activities, hiking trails, historical bridges, vineyards, and antique stores.
Where to Eat
Nearby restaurants such as Stone Soup, Zenzera, and the Hare and the Hound provide delicious dishes like pan- seared Maple Creek Farms Duck Breast and classic Southern Shrimp and Smokey Tomato Cheese Grits.
The Red Horse Inn has teamed up with Horseback Waterfall Tours for guided horseback rides through mountains overlooking pristine waterfalls, and the Upcountry’s Lake Jocassee, which offers panoramic views and picturesque sunsets.
Or head to Eden Farms. The one-hour guided trail rides are lots of fun for beginners as well as advanced riders. When you arrive, horses are saddled and ready to go. You will pass beautiful views of Caesar’s Head and Table Rock as you walk along horse pastures and old logging trails. This outdoor experience is not to be missed!
The Tryon Riding and Hunt Club also offers a number of events, most notably the 67th annual Steeplechase on April 20.