Aiken Horse Park Foundation helps local charitable causes

May 12, 2019

The Aiken Charity Horse Shows at Bruce’s Field provide opportunities for hundreds horses and riders to compete.

In addition, the two events generate money for local nonprofits.

This year, the Aiken Horse Park Foundation will present $30,000 to the Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center, which offers equine-assisted activities that promote the physical, emotional and psychological health of individuals with special needs.

Others that have benefited in the past include Friends of the Animal Shelter and the Community Medical Clinic of Aiken County.

The Horse Park Foundation’s mission is “to encourage and support the equestrian lifestyle in Aiken and to encourage civic, charitable and educational endeavors,” said Tara Bostwick, who is the organization’s vice president and treasurer.

Bruce Duchossois, who purchased the property that became Bruce’s Field in 2000 and established the Horse Park Foundation, died in 2014 at the age of 64.

An accomplished rider, he was a member of the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame.

Bostwick said Duchossois’ vision for Horse Park Foundation included a plan to aid “all types of charities that help those that can’t help themselves – from the elderly to the very young, people who are sick and four-legged friends.”

Duchossois also wanted to develop a state-of-the-art equestrian center on the land at the corner of Powderhouse Road and Audubon Drive.

There are eight barns on the grounds now along with five competition rings, two schooling rings and an office building.

The 2019 renewal of Aiken Charity Horse Show I took place May 1-5. Aiken Charity Horse Show II started May 8 and will end today (May 12).

The Special Olympics State Equestrian Show, which was held for the first time last year at Bruce’s Field, is scheduled for May 18 and 19.

“That is something that we are very proud to be a part of,” Bostwick said. “We are able to provide our facility at no cost to the Special Olympics of South Carolina.”

In addition to other horse shows, events at Bruce’s Field, which was named for Duchossois, include the Aiken Spring and Fall steeplechases and schooling days for stadium jumping and dressage.

In early March, Bruce’s Field was the site of the inaugural LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing showcase, which had a purse of $50,000.

The competitors included a number of riders with Olympic experience who live in this country and other parts of the world.

Thousands of spectators showed up, and Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon presented the Key to the City to Philip Dutton.

Dutton was the chairman of the Horse Park Foundation Committee that organized the showcase. He and his mount, Fernhill Singapore, finished in 11th place.

In 1996, Dutton was a member of Australia’s gold medal-winning Olympic team.

While riding for the United States in 2016, he won an individual Olympic bronze medal on a gelding named Mighty Nice.

“We have created something that is much bigger than we originally had anticipated,” said Bostwick of Bruce’s Field, “and we’ve also been able to do so much for our community. I think that is fabulous.”

For more information, visit aikenhorsepark.org or the Aiken Horse Park Foundation page on Facebook.

The telephone number for the nonprofit foundation is 803-226-0121.