Aiken’s steep history of polo, carriage riding, fox hunting, eventing, show jumping, horseshows, horse racing and horseback riding continues its tradition to this modern era. If you haven't considered Aiken as a horse riding destination, it's time to saddle up a visit to this stunning town! Here are 11 reasons why Aiken is horse riding paradise.
1. Horses have right of way. Aiken is one of the only cities where horses have the right of way. A stoplight (with a button to push) is located on Whiskey Road, one of Aiken's busiest roads, for horse riders to safely cross.
Equitrekking / facebook
2. It’s steeped in horse history and culture. Aiken gained fame as a wintering equestrian spot for wealthy Northerners, and this charming town became known as the “Polo Capital of the World” and “The Winter Colony”; and various equestrian trails lead the way with views of breathtaking winter colony estates.
3. You can ride in the largest Urban Forest in the U.S. – Hitchcock Woods The woods, one of the nation's largest urban forests boast 2,100 acres of forest and 70 miles of sandy trails for horseback riders. Did you know it is twice the size of Central Park of NY?
4. It’s home to top equestrian sports competitions. Aiken has established itself as one of the nation’s premier training centers and horse sporting events that draws competitors from across the country and attracting spectators to watch the shows.
5. It carries on the tradition of foxhunting. Aiken embraces the rich history of horse riders hunting foxes in the forest by continuing the tradition with five area hunts for enthusiasts and holds the annual Blessing of the Hounds on Thanksgiving Day.
Frank DiBona / flickr creative commons
6. There are horse trails everywhere. Horse riding enthusiasts can experience the heart of polo country by exploring the trails at the Aiken State Park, tranquil forests, the historic scenic downtown, or one of the private equestrian facilities.
carlfbagge / flickr creative commons
7. You can take horseback riding tours and lessons for all levels. Experience Aiken by horseback at one of the many area stables offering Western riding lessons, horse trail rides, and horseback riding for kids and families.
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8. You’ll see elegant horses and carriages. Aiken has a strong carriage driving community supported by the Aiken Driving Club with something for everyone including recreational driving, picnic drives, and competitions.
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9. It has unique shops with all things equine. Downtown boutiques cater to horse enthusiasts who enjoy various selections of rider's needs for women, men, and young riders; and showcases sporting art.
10. The Friendly Locals. Nowhere is this more true than the Aiken Training Track where you can take in stunning views of the horses with trainers at the track, where you learn about the legend behind the Blue Peter Tree, and then enjoy a southern breakfast with the locals at The Track Kitchen.
11. The community gives back. At the Aiken Equine Rescue visitors can tour the largest equine rescue in the southeastern US with 80 acres of rolling pastures where rescued horses are given the care, love and attention from passionate volunteers, employees and farm managers.
Aiken is home to some of the most incredible equestrian activities, and there’s no finer place to experience paradise.