Horse Country

Looking at the County From Horseback

By Angie Tally

Moore County is world-renowned for golf, but for those interested in viewing the world from horseback, the Sandhills provides a wealth of opportunity. The gateway to the Sandhills from the north, the Walthour-Moss Foundation is an equestrian paradise. Since 1978, the foundation has provided miles and miles of longleaf pinelined sand trails for pleasure riders, carriage drivers and foxhunters.

Established upon the death of William O. “Pappy” Moss to ensure the preservation of the open land he and his wife, Virginia “Ginnie” Walthour Moss so treasured, the foundation now encompasses more than 4,000 acres and is the home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and a number of other varieties of birds, deer, raccoons, opossums, red and grey foxes, and rare fox squirrels, as well as a number of rare plant species.

In 2013, 2,800 acres of the Walthour-Moss Foundation property was named to the National Register of Historic Places, serving to further protect the unique property from development for years to come. (www.walthour-moss.org)

A few miles to the west in the village of Pinehurst lies the historic Pinehurst Harness Track. Officially opened in 1915, the Harness Track features 110 acres, three training tracks, an open air all-weather show ring, 18 barns and the historic Fair Barn.

Named to the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 22, 1992, the Harness Track has served as a winter training facility for Standardbred horses since 1915 and is currently also the venue for a winter dressage series, a nationally recognized fall dressage show and spring matinee races. It is also the home of the Carolina Polocrosse Club, which hosts tournaments annually in May and September. (www.pinehurstharness.org)

Twelve or so miles to the east, just inside the Hoke County line, is the Carolina Horse Park. Founded in 1997, the horse park is located on 250 acres and features 192 permanent stalls, three show jumping rings, a dressage area with space for up to seven rings, six championshiplevel cross country courses, driving obstacles and a 7/8-mile steeplechase track, all with ideal footing.

Southern Pines Horse Trials I and II, Longleaf Pines Horse Trials, Five Points Horse Trials, Cabin Branch Event Series, Southern Pines Combined Driving Event and both “A” and “C” rated hunter/jumper shows are on the schedule for 2015, as is the much anticipated Carolina International CIC and Horse Trial; and the Sandhills annual rite of spring, the 65th running of the annual Stoneybrook Steeplechase, a day of fancy hats, stick horse races, champagne and steeplechase racing. (www.carolinahorsepark.com)

A number of more intimate venues offer activities as well, including Foxtrack Farm (www.foxtrack.net) and Secrist Farm (www.runningstarthorsetrials.com), which sponsor series of schooling horse trials; Antares Dressage (www.antaresdressage.com) and Sporting Services (www.sportingservices.net), which sponsor a series of dressage schooling shows; and Reflections Farm (www.reflectionsfarmnc. com), which conducts a series of dressage and versatility shows and clinics.

Local tack and feed stores Cabin Branch, Moore Equine, Barn Door, Aberdeen Supply and Carthage Farm Supply fulfill the needs of both horses and riders, and serve much as community bulletin boards for the many private lesson barns as well as numerous clubs and activities for local equestrians including:

The Moore County Driving Club, which conducts driving clinics, pleasure shows and combined driving events, holds an annual holiday carriage parade and has social outings with lunch and live music and covered dish/ dinner meetings once a month. The club welcomes newcomers and seasoned drivers alike. (www.moore countydrivingclub.com)

The Moore County Hounds is a privately owned pack of hounds, but offers a number of opportunities for the public to join during the year, including a series of trail rides with the Masters in April, May and June, a foxhunting clinic in late summer, the annual Hunter Pace in November, and Opening Meet on Thanksgiving Day. Activities are listed in the Hoofbeats section of The Pilot and at www.sporting services.net/Calendar.htm.

The Carolina Polocrosse Club welcomes members of all riding abilities to join and learn more about the sport that combines elements of polo and lacrosse and is a competitive, yet family friendly, sport. (www carolinapolo crosse.com or email wadel@insulatinginc.com)

Prancing Horse Inc. is a PATH recognized therapeutic riding center with three satellite locations. It serves to provide therapeutic riding services to all those who will benefit. (www.prancing-horse.org)

The Southeastern Reining Horse Association is a North Carolina-based affiliate of the National Reining Horse Association, which conducts clinics and shows. Membership includes riders and horse enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels from all walks of life. (www.serha.info)

The Moore County Pony Club welcomes riders ages 7-25. Membership offers opportunity to meet fellow young horse lovers, ride with world-class trainers, and compete in a variety of venues and a range of disciplines. Email bethyounger.muddycreekfarm@gmail.com, or angie.thecountrybookshop@gmail.com for more information.

Two Moore County 4-H horse clubs welcome riders up to age 19 and offer opportunities in public speaking, horse knowledge, mounted games and horse showing the Bowlegged Bunch. Email bethyounger.muddy creekfarm@gmail.com and Moore Saddle Time samanthsduclos84@gmail.com.

The club behind the Harness Track

In 2015, the Pinehurst Harness Track celebrated its 100th anniversary. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992, the Harness Track serves as a winter training facility for standardbred horses and as a venue for shows and races.

When it opened in 1915, the Harness Track was privately owned and operated by a training club. In addition to owning the land, the club built a barn on the property.

Today, the Harness Track is owned by the village of Pinehurst, but a training club continues to be a driving force at the track.

A registered club for 50 years, the Pinehurst Driving and Training Club is completely volunteer. Its members include owners, trainers and assistant trainers. The club is open only to those who work or train at the Harness Track.

Each year, the Pinehurst Driving and Training Club hosts a Spring Matinee Day. Set for Saturday, April 12, the event is open to the public. The matinee races showcase young horses who have been training at the Harness Track. The club will put on eight races during the day.

There is no betting on the races, but prizes donated by local merchants will be awarded. The club also holds qualifying races throughout the year

For information about the 100-year-old Harness Track, visit the Harness Track link at the village of Pinehurst’s website, www.vopnc.org.

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