Aiken South Carolina is an Equestrian Wonderland

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With names like Easy Street and Lovers’ Lane it’s no wonder that horse lovers love Aiken, South Carolina. The city of Aiken is an equestrian wonderland as you travel on horseback through the clay roads and deep into the heavily forested Hitchcock Woods.

Katherine Thomas and Cruize at Sea Horse Aiken

Sea Horse Aiken

I had landed in horse heaven, if only for a few days, and I was going to maximize my horseback riding vacation with a trail ride at Sea Horse Aiken.

nancy d brown, horse, coker spring, aiken, south carolina, hitckcock woods

Nancy Brown beside Coker Spring in Aiken, South Carolina

At 2,200 acres, Hitchcock Woods is one of the largest urban forests in the nation. Once owned by equestrians Louise and Thomas Hitchcock, the forest is now owned by the non-profit Hitchcock Woods Foundation.

This longleaf pine forest is open to horse and rider, dog walkers, hikers and runners and it is beautiful – what an asset to this equestrian community. This gem is the princess of the winter colonies.

I felt like royalty riding my trusty steed through the wooded forest. It wouldn’t have fazed me if Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men had ridden by on horseback. Instead, we were greeted with friendly hello’s from the local equestrian community and their tail-wagging dogs accompanying the horses.

“It wouldn’t have fazed me if Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men had ridden by on horseback. Instead, we were greeted with friendly hello’s from the local equestrian community and their tail-wagging dogs accompanying the horses.”

aiken south carolina horseback riding

Hitchcock Woods Ridge Mile Track and Aiken Fence used in fox hunting

We left the stables and entered Hitchcock Woods by Coker Spring, once a source of spring-fed drinking water to the citizen’s of the town.

With 85 miles of bridle paths and trails, we stopped to take a between the ears shot of the “danger quicksand” sign and I learned the history behind an Aiken fence – still used today for fox hunting, on the Ridge Mile Track.

quicksand, hitchcock woods, horseback riding, aiken, south carolina

Quicksand sign warns riders after heavy rain

As a former competitive equestrian myself, I marveled at the 101 year old horse show grounds and delighted in the fact that horse enthusiasts and locals come together each Spring to welcome young riders into the equestrian community. Aiken Horse Show is one of the oldest horse shows in the country.

There are many traditions, as well as things to see and do here, from fox hunting, to Sunday afternoon polo on Whitney Polo Field and Thoroughbred racing.

You’ll be able to ride by Easy Street, peek over the fence at Aiken County Historical Museum, built in 1931, and even stop at the equestrian light, where horses have the right of way at Whiskey and Grace streets. In fact, Aiken Historical Museum offers bloodies and bagels free to everyone Thanksgiving morning for the blessing of the hounds. Can you image that?

easy street, aiken, south carolina, horseback riding, trail ride hitchcock woods

Need to Know

Owner Katherine Thomas prefers to keep horseback rides small in size. This is a custom, walking only, trail ride through Aiken’s Historic Horse District with an emphasis on history, as experienced from the back of a horse.

Wear long pants, boots with a heel, if possible, and leave backpacks and purses in the tack room. Sea Horse Aiken has riding helmets available and saddle bags are included for water or a snack. English saddles are provided. No prior riding experience required.

katherine thomas, equestrian signal, whiskey & grace street, aiken, south carolina, horse, sea horse aiken

Yield to horses at the equestrian signal at Whiskey and Grace. 

Insider Tip

While I stayed at a bed and breakfast during my visit to Aiken, I’m told that Sea Horse Aiken offers pet-friendly cottages. I did not stay on property, nor did I travel there with any horses. If you have questions about traveling with your horse, trail riding with Katherine Thomas or how to rent one of the cottages, please visit Sea Horse Aiken website.

DETAILS:

Sea Horse Aiken  
541 Two Notch Road SE
Aiken, South Carolina 29801

803.443.4940

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Note: Sea Horse Aiken horseback riding review, all photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of the City of Aiken, South Carolina for this horseback riding adventure.

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Nancy Brown
Nancy D. Brown writes the What a Trip blog, and reviews lodging at hotel-scoop.com. Her articles have appeared in Shape magazine, Alaska Airlines, At Home Tennessee, Diablo magazine, San Jose Mercury News, Chicago Tribune, Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune newspapers in addition to online publications. An avid equestrian, Nancy reviews horse properties at writinghorseback.com. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she specializes in active adventure and luxury travel for baby boomers.
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