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October 2009

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Saddle Up!
Written By: 
Colleen Troy

Seasoned riders and those new to the sport trot over to these stables and trails


Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding
Although known for its equine therapy for children and adults with disabilities, CATR Farms also offers a community lesson program in beginner to intermediate-advanced hunt seat horseback riding at its nearly 13-acre John’s Island facility. (843) 559-6040, www.catrfarms.org

Half Pass Farms & Stables
This tidy equestrian farm in Ravenel offers boarding, dressage and hunter/jumper lessons, and horse training. In that regard, the family-oriented equestrian center focuses on identifying a horse’s true nature and training it for competition accordingly. (843) 556-6994, www.halfpassfarm-andstables.com

Middleton Equestrian Center
Middleton Place Plantation’s horse cred may be aligned more with fox hunts, but the junior riders clamor for Pony Parties, soirées that come complete with polite ponies and special plantation access. Also available are lessons, trail rides, and boarding. $45 one-hour trail ride; reservations required. (843) 556-8137, www.theinnatmiddletonplace.com

Mullet Hall Equestrian Center
It’s hard to find a fall weekend when these 700-plus acres; 20 miles of trails; and numerous barns, performance rings, and other spaces aren’t being used by local enthusiasts. Under the Charleston County Parks system, Mullet Hall is part of a larger plantation and boasts a nice blend of farm fields and pine forests—BYOH (horse, that is). Non-horse lovers also visit for music festivals, dog agility programs, and more. www.ccprc.com

Seabrook Island Equestrian Center Shell
The resort island opens its gates to the public for the area’s only beach ride, a tour of the north beach (advanced riders only); scenic trail rides; and parent-led pony rides for novices. $95 beach ride; $70-$65 trail ride; $40 half-hour pony ride; reservations required. (843) 768-7541, www.discoverseabrook.com

Stono Ferry Stables
With 22 stables in a big, airy barn and robust boarding, lesson, and camp offerings, Stono is a major player in local horse circles. Summer camps teach students to groom and tack while also giving them plenty of saddle time. (843) 763-0566, www.stonoferry.com

Stono River Stable
This 300-acre stretch feels about as “dude ranch” as the Lowcountry gets. Jumping courses and trail rides are specialties, and the friendly teaching staff has proven to be patient with all skill levels—or lack thereof. $55 one-hour trail ride; (843) 559-0773, www.stonoriverstable.com

Tuxbury Farm
Located in Huger, this magnet for the East Cooper equestrian set offers lessons, trail rides into the adjacent Francis Marion National Forest, and summer camps. Tuxbury brings a unique “whole horse” approach to lessons, instructing riders on how to develop the sense it takes to ride a living, breathing animal. (843) 884-7844, www.tuxburyfarm.com


Profile: Riding High

Who: Eliza Hay, age 16, lives on 350 acres on Wadmalaw, where a few farm fields have been turned into a haven for her four horses. Eliza caught horse fever as a four-year-old, atop a party pony. “I just kept getting back in line all day long, ride after ride,” she recalls.

Horse Sense: The high school junior has worked through the competition circuit, riding every year in the medal finals of numerous big shows, including the Governors Cup in Aiken. She spent nine weeks over the summer competing throughout Kentucky and Virginia. Eliza is so committed to her riding lifestyle that she left the School of the Arts for homeschooling. The result: Instead of rising daily at 4:30 a.m. to tend to her horses, then logging two-plus hours on a school bus, “now I can ride in the mornings, study in the afternoon, and ride again later.” And, one surmises, she has more free time? “Nope—just more time for riding. It’s all I do.”


EVERYTHING EQUINE: Take a peek at www.lowcountryhorse.com for information on training facilities, riding camps, and tack shops, as well as an event calendar and photographs of local riders.


Join!

Charleston Polo Club
The sport of kings was popular in the Lowcountry up until the 1980s, when Hurricane Hugo laid the movement flat. Inspired by the popularity of play just up the road in Aiken, a local group of enthusiasts decided to give it a go. The club plans to host four matches this fall in an effort to revive the sport and its spirited audiences hereabouts. (843) 577-9827

Middleton Place Hounds
If “to the hounds” is your kind of rallying cry, then check out this club, where members and guests engage in the colorful pageantry of the fox hunt. The group practices drag hunting, which involves laying a scent with an inanimate object for the hounds to follow. The hunt club maintains a kennel of about 50 fox hounds. Visitors are welcome. (843) 881-4554, www.middletonplacehounds.com

Storybook Farms
This John’s Island stable hosts and coaches the College of Charleston Women’s Equestrian Team. On November 21 and 22, head out to the Bees Ferry Road ring for the intercollegiate horse show. (843) 571-2820, www.storybookfarminc.com




RESOURCES

Photograph by Jenny Archer; Profile Photograph by Shawn Mcmillen/Courtesy of Eliza Hay

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