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. 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.
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.”
We left the stables and entered Hitchcock Woods by Coker Spring, once a source of spring-fed drinking water to the citizen’s of Aiken. 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.
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 in Aiken, South Carolina, 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?
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.
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.
If You Go:
Sea Horse Aiken (803) 443-4940
541 Two Notch Road SE
Aiken, South Carolina 29801
Sea Horse Aiken horseback riding review, photos and all videos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of the City of Aiken, South Carolina for this horseback riding adventure.