City dwellers unacquainted with North Carolina’s 300,000 horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and burros will get a chance to witness the growing industry at the 2015 N.C. State Fair Oct. 15-25.
Last year the State Fair and the N.C. Horse Council partnered to celebrate the “Year of the Horse,” offering numerous equine events to complement the traditional horse shows. This year the fair and horse council present “Nothing Could Be Finer than a Horse in Carolina,” adding more educational and entertaining equine activities for fairgoers.
The popular, free five-minute horseback riding lessons will make a return to the fair, showcasing what North Carolina’s horses and trainers have to offer, said Sue Gray, executive director of the N.C. Horse Council.
“It’s truly the best thrill ride available at the fair, and it’s included in admission,” Gray said. “There will be instructors from across the state to ensure everyone has the best experience possible.”
The riding lessons will be held in the Hunt Horse Complex in the outdoor arena next to Youth Center Road every day for the fair’s 11-day run, an extension from last year’s three-day-long riding program. The lessons will be available Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Oct. 16-25 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Gray said the lessons, along with several new equestrian-focused events, correspond with the N.C. Horse Council’s focus to enlighten the non-riding public.
Educational events include the Alley of Breeds, which will feature a display of 10 different horse breeds. In addition to giving the public up-close views of the horses, the alley will provide visitors with educational materials about each breed. It will be located in the Hunt Horse Complex, with display hours the same as those for the five-minute riding lessons.
“It was important for us to add more of an educational component to the event this year,” Gray said. “This way the public will be able to both learn and see what makes each breed unique.”
Other events include the Parade of Breeds, which will highlight the 10 breeds on display. The parade will precede the evening session of the Saddlebred Show in the Hunt Horse Complex Oct. 21-24. A drill-team competition will also be held Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Hunt Horse Arena. Multiple teams from across the state will compete for recognition, showcasing their unique skills and movements on horseback, choreographed with music.
All activities at the Hunt Horse Complex are free to the public. A complete schedule of the “Nothing Could Be Finer than a Horse in Carolina” activities can be found at www.ncstatefair.org.