settling down: s.c. horse country
The Aiken Training Track is located along Two Notch
Road, surrounded by established polo fields, quiet dirt roads
and a short distance from Hitchcock Woods, which, at over
2,000 acres, is one of America’s largest urban forests. Four
nearby event facilities offer competitions and schooling shows
throughout the winter season.
The Aiken Triple Crown is the community’s biggest sporting
and social event of the year. Over three consecutive weekends in
March, the Aiken Trials, the Aiken Steeplechase and the Aiken
Harness Races attract tens of thousands of fans. The mile-long
Trials have served as a training event for a number of thoroughbred champions over the years, including 1990 Preakness
winner Summer Squall, a runner-up in the Kentucky Derby
that year. Unlike the Trials, which is an unsanctioned event
with no prize money, the Aiken Steeplechase is one of the most
important stops on the National Steeplechase Association tour.
It draws crowds of 30,000, and there’s a waiting list for tailgate
spots along the railing at Ford Conger Field.
Living the Aiken Life
“It’s the most wonderful place to live,” says Mayor Fred
Cavanaugh, “and I’ve lived in many places around the country.”
And he’s not the only one who thinks so. It seems as though
Aiken’s relaxed pace of living and historic charm have lasting
effects on residents new and old alike.
“We absolutely fell in love with Aiken the minute we saw it,”
says Joe Sherman. He and wife Karen relocated to Woodside
Plantation in Aiken from Alexandria, VA, just under three
years ago. “The feeling all around is that everyone just loves
it here… Nobody’s going to beat it.”
Joe and Karen visited Aiken to simply feel the town out,
but ended up buying a homesite the very same day. “When
we planned the trip, we thought it would be one of many
explorations, but when we got here, it became the real deal.
We haven’t had a single regret. Just come spend a day or two
here, and you’ll absolutely fall in love with it!”
Part of what makes Aiken so distinctive is the way it
combines yesteryear charm and a moderate cost of living
with exciting recreational features. Because of this, Aiken has
become a magnet for horse lovers and ‘semi-retirees’ who are
moving south from the Midwest, the Northeast, as well as
north from Florida.
“People ask, ‘What on earth are you going to do down
there?’” says former New Jersey-ite Ron Krenta, who moved to
Cedar Creek in Aiken with his wife Dolores after his technical
illustrating job was downsized. Moving from the most densely
populated state in the nation to a small town in South Carolina
was a big change for the Krentas, but they haven’t regretted
one minute of it.
“You don’t have to be Southern to fit in here—Dolores and I
are proof of that,” he says. “In Aiken, everybody’s your neighbor.”
So whether you’re new to horseback riding or a veteran
equestrian looking to board your horse, South Carolina’s
horse country capital is surely a good place to be. |
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