Go Horse Shop’s Guide to Horse Shopping In: Aiken, SC
Written by Go Horse Shop on September 28, 2017
Horse Shopping in Aiken, South Carolina
In our first Horse Shopping article we discussed the “Horse Capital of the World”, Ocala Fl. With a bold title like that, Ocala has its fair share of rivals. Let’s dive into one of my personal favorites, Aiken SC. Aiken may have coined the term “Thoroughbred Country”, but we also know and love Aiken as an absolute haven for Eventing, Polo, and all things horse. Ah yes, the rich equestrian culture, charming downtown streets, beautiful oak canopies, rolling hills, and perfect footing – it’s like paradise. And in paradise, there are top-level trainers, show barns, and horses around every corner.
And in the paradise of Aiken SC, you have to mention Lellie Ward’s Paradise Farm! Lellie has competed at 3* and 4* levels for over 35 years, including the Rolex Kentucky Three Day event four times, most American and Canadian Three-Day events, and almost every major horse trial on the East Coast. She shares her knowledge and experience through her passion for teaching at Paradise Farms. Lellie also offers talented horses for sale, and prides herself in finding the perfect match for every rider. Lellie states, “The horse must make the rider’s heart sing. If it does not, it is not the right one.” and we think that’s the perfect way to find your next partner!
Next stop is eventing star Doug Payne, at his home DPEquestrian. Doug is a well-known and respected international horseman and competitor; he has extensive experience through the 4* eventing level, Grand Prix Show Jumping, and Intermediare Dressage. He’s got his eye on the 2018 World Championships and the 2020 Olympic Games in the future. His fine collection of talented sale horses are in a full training and competition program not only for eventing, but jumping and dressage as well. He also has recently partnered with Howard Equestrian based in the UK, making it easy to find the partner of your dreams. Catch Doug Payne and DPEquestrian at their summer home in Rougemont, NC and Aiken, SC in the winter.
Perhaps you’re looking less for an eventer, and more for a hunter/jumper, or a dressage mount. You’ll find your partner at Vaughn Equestrian, owned and operated by Darrell and Melissa Vaughn. Melissa is Grand Prix rider who has a passion for training horses with care and detail, and her husband Darrell trains with great patience and a keen eye for working with young horses. Together this top-notch team offers high-quality performance horses that are amateur ready. They are also partnered with a breeder in Belgium, and import fine European-bred horses.
If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, and you don’t mind a little pressure, check out Phillip Dutton’s winter training facility at Red Oak Farm. The Olympian currently ranked #2 FEI World Eventing Athlete is always has an inventory of superior horses for sale from 3-year olds to Advanced levels. Find Phillip and Evie Dutton in their summer home at True Prospect Farm in Chester County PA, or their winter home at Red Oak in Aiken SC, located in the unparalleled Bridle Creek Equestrian Community. Also nestled in this beautiful community in Aiken is Bridle Creek Farm, which has been the winter home for world class athletes Jennie Brannigan, Lillian Heard, Will Coleman, Boyd and Silva Martin, and many more.
Speaking of Boyd and Silva Martin… If you’re still okay with the heat, visit the superstars’ winter home at Stable View Farm. Olympic athlete Boyd and Grand Prix rider Silva are highly successful unstoppable team, and two of the most sought-after trainers and riders in the U.S. This power couple specializes in the training and competition of dressage and event horses and feature stunning upper level horses for sale. If you don’t go to check out horses, go to visit Stable View’s incredible state of the art facility. Stable View is consistently in the process of growing to create a leading international equestrian training facility, and they have the amenities to prove it. 1,000 acres of rolling country side, separate barns, a covered arena, an outdoor ring, a dressage ring, a professionally designed cross country course and more, you’ll want to move in! And you can, stay with the likes of stars like Boyd and Silva Martin in one of Stable View’s beautiful apartments. They also host shows such as Horse Trials, Foxhunting, and Jumper Nights Under the Stars, so there’s something for everyone at Stable View.
Looking for a little less pressure? 4* event rider and USDF bronze and silver medalist Kate Brown may have the right match for you. And if you still can’t find the horse to make your heart sing, your Aiken horse shopping list won’t be complete without 3* riders Jodi Hemry or Pippa Moon. We can’t name them all, but other honorable mentions include Daniel F. Geitner Stables for Hunter/Jumpers, and Justine Wilson’s Breezy Hill South facility for Dressage and of course many more. With so many barns and trainers to choose from, you’ll be sure to find the horse of your dreams.
There’s no shortage of high-level equestrianism in the paradise of Aiken, and you can find many top show barns, trainers, and horses showing in Aiken all year long. Progressive Show Jumping Inc. is often the driving force behind some of Aiken’s most popular shows; their mission is to produce horse shows that offer premier course designs and class formats. They are constantly developing their competition level of shows, and amenities offered at their Highfields Event Center. The Highfields Event Center boasts seven competition rings, VIP club seating, permanent barns, turn-out paddocks and more, making it a premier showing facility. They host a wide range of events all year long, but if you’re going down this fall, check out the PSJ Aiken Fall Classic in October, or the Medal Finals in November. Find yourself staying this winter? Check out the USEF National Aiken Challenge in January, or the Carolina Classic or the Winter Series in February.
Another must see for the horse lover is ‘Bruce’s Field’, at the Aiken Horse Park, a premier equestrian facility packed with the southern charm of Aiken. The facilities include 5 all-weather rings, over 200 permanent stalls, and 66 acres of beautiful grass field and spacious atmosphere, but the real charm is their rich heritage and unmatched hospitality. Check out clinics by Christine Traurig or Nona Garson this fall, the Aiken Fall Steeplechase in October, or the USEF National Rated Aiken Holiday Premier late November into early December. A short drive to Aiken’s historic downtown district lined with longleaf pines and oak trees, you’ll pass the Aiken Training Track, Powderhouse Polo Fields, and historic winter colony homes and stables.
Also teeming with the charm of Aiken is Hitchcock Woods, comprised over 2,100 acres of forestland and one of America’s largest urban forests. Open to the public free of charge 365 days a year, explore this stunning forest and discover a variety of ecosystems on bike, foot, or better yet – on your new horse! Hitchcock Woods is home to the Festival of the Woods, the Aiken Hounds, and the prestigious and elegant Aiken Horse Show.
After you’ve explored barns, horse shows, and tack shops (don’t miss Aiken Saddlery, Sullivan Saddlery, and Oak Manor Saddlery), it’s time to explore Aiken’s one of a kind historic and charming downtown district. This small city is filled with vibrant culture and offers boutique shopping, museums and galleries, a spirited restaurant and café scene, and lively nightlife attractions. Historic hotels provide accommodation in the heart of downtown, and a relaxed, inviting pace pervades the cosmopolitan yet peaceful atmosphere. Local favorites include the Aiken Brewing Company, The Stables Resaurant, The Polo Tavern, and Betsy’s on the Corner. You can even find The Feed Bag, the local up and coming food truck, all around Aiken from downtown to Paradise Farms!
Whatever you choose to do and whatever horse you find, we at Go Horse Shop are happy to happy through your horse search here in the wonderfully charming paradise of Aiken South Carolina! Start your horse shopping experience Go Horse Shop.