Discover Aiken: Equestrian events are scheduled throughout the year in Aiken

September 23, 2018

Aiken is an internationally recognized center of horse history and culture, and equestrian events are scheduled throughout the year.

Here just a few of the many activities that equine lovers can enjoy locally:

• The Aiken Triple Crown kicks off the second or third weekend in March with the Aiken Trials at the Aiken Training Track. Next is the Aiken Spring Steeplechase at the Aiken Horse Park Foundation’s Bruce’s Field, and the series wraps up with Pacers & Polo at the Powderhouse Polo Field. March also is when harness races are held at McGhees’ Mile, and in the October, Bruce’s Field is the site of the Aiken Fall Steeplechase.

• The Blessing of the Hounds in Hitchcock Woods is an Aiken Thanksgiving tradition. It also marks the official start of the foxhunting season for the Aiken Hounds, which conducts the nation’s oldest drag hunt. Also dashing through the fields and forests of the area during the late fall, winter and spring are several other foxhunting groups.

• The 100th Aiken Horse Show was held in 2016, and the competition is still going strong. One of the biggest attractions for riders and spectators is the show’s beautiful location in Hitchcock Woods, which is one of the nation’s largest urban forests. Bruce’s Field and Highfields are among the sites of other major horse shows in Aiken.

• The inaugural Grand Prix Eventing Showcase is scheduled for March 1 and 2 of 2019 at Bruce’s Field. But Aiken has been a top place for eventing’s competitors to train in the winter for a number of years. They include Philip Dutton and Boyd Martin, who were members of the U.S. eventing team that traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Dutton rode Mighty Nice and won an individual bronze medal. In May of this year, USC Aiken’s team finished third in the U.S. Eventing Association Intercollegiate Championship.

• Horses pulling carriages and their drivers compete in the Katydid Combined Driving Event in the fall near the Aiken County town of Windsor. The competition has three phases: dressage, marathon and cones. Carriages also can be seen in Aiken, especially on the dirt roads of the Horse District near downtown. The Aiken Driving Club offers a variety of events and activities for both competitive and recreational carriage drivers.

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