History and Mission
The Foothills Equestrian Trails Association (FETA) is dedicated to the preservation of the historic equestrian trail system in and around Hunting Country in Polk County, North Carolina. Many of these trails date back to the 1920's, when people began coming to Tryon from all over the country to fox hunt and enjoy the beautiful area and sporting life. Many of the trails are even older back roads used by the western settlers probably following routes first used by the Native Americans.
Estimated at approximately 125-150 miles, all the FETA trails are privately owned by landowners who graciously allow the use of their land by FETA members. Membership dues pay for trail maintenance, administrative costs (postage, printing, tags, newsletters, etc.) and social gatherings. No landowner is paid for the use of the trails.
The FETA organization was formed in 1993. Many area equestrians were concerned about trails being lost to land development. Landowners were concerned about liability issues. After a large ice storm had downed hundreds of trees riders from all over North and South Carolina worked together to clear the damage. Out of these challenges, people of all backgrounds and interests organized FETA as a way to maintain the trails for equestrian use. FETA strives to work with landowners and riders to preserve this historic asset. The result has been very special and continues to attract new residents from all over the country to enjoy some of the most beautiful and diverse equestrian trails to be found anywhere.
Members of FETA are primarily area residents who enjoy riding the trails or wish to support this precious community asset. Maintaining the traditional hospitality of area landowners, FETA was organized as an "open" membership system. This tradition has set the tone for the Hunting Country landowners, welcoming all members to enjoy the equestrian lifestyle and grateful to share their blessings. Unfortunately, the tremendous demand for memberships forced FETA to limit new memberships to the local area in 2001, grandfathering current members.
FETA's voting members are the landowners who own the trails. They elect a 12-14 member Board of Directors. The Board establishes rules for membership and behavior, manages the budget, and assists landowners in the maintenance of their trails. The trails do not belong to FETA and landowners retain the right to use them as they desire. FETA members are, however, required to use the trails subject to the requirements of the organization and the particular wishes of each landowner in order to remain welcome guests.
FETA, its members and landowners are strongly committed to preserving the open space and equestrian lifestyle of this unique area. Working with organizations such as FENCE, the Hunting Country Property Owners Association and local equestrian discipline organizations, FETA works hard to preserve a beautiful and historic community asset for the generations to come.
FETA Original Organizers
Nancy and Pete Mahler
Sally and Dave Parkinson
Phyllis and Don Eifert
FETA Past Presidents