Pinehurst’s equestrian past


A rider takes part in a gymkhana at the Carolina Hotel. Gymkhana is the term used to describe a number of contests involving stunts.

As American Pharoah prepares to compete for the coveted Triple Crown, we thought it would be fun to look back at Pinehurst’s equestrian history.

Some may be surprised to learn a show ring used to be set up outside the Carolina Hotel. It provided a place for skilled horsemen to show off their stunts.

According to Audrey Moriarty’s book “Pinehurst: Golf, History and the Good Life,” Pinehurst founder James Walker Tufts began to promote others sports and leisure activities after golf started to take off.

“A racetrack was built, and harness racing, flat racing and horse training grew until the best horses in the sport were coming to Pinehurst to train,” writes Moriarty, the executive director of the the Tufts Archives.

The Pinehurst Harness Track opened in 1915 and Tufts’ son, Leonard,  helped form the Pinehurst Jockey Club. Polo came to Pinehurst during the 1920s when the Tufts became interested in the sport.

“As the sport became more popular, polo clubs throughout the south came to Pinehurst to play matches,” Moriarty writes.

Equestrian activity continues to thrive in Pinehurst.

During the spring, the Pinehurst Harness Track hosts dressage shows, polo matches and more. Winter Standardbred training is held at the track October through April.

Don’t forget to watch the Belmont Stakes Saturday on NBC to see if American Pharoah will be the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978.


Guests gather outside the Carolina Hotel to watch a gymkhana.