Cross-Country Schooling in Aiken

There are so many event riders and trainers in Aiken over the winter. Little wonder, with all the competing and schooling opportunities, along with our (relatively!) mild winter weather.

In the February-March issue of The Aiken Horse, we published an article about where to school cross country this winter. So many people have been reading that in our digital edition, we decided to republish it here, where it might be more accessible to a wider audience. So here it is:

Where to Practice this Winter

By Amber Heintzberger

Aiken is a winter hotspot for eventers and there are numerous excellent facilities in and around Aiken for schooling cross-country jumping. From the tiniest, introductory level fences all the way up to massive advanced complexes, there’s something for everyone. And you can’t forget the 2100-acre Hitchcock Woods, where there are inviting fences throughout the 70 miles of trails, hills to gallop up and down, and you can enjoy the natural beauty and history of Aiken while you are schooling.

Before setting out to school at any facility, consider the following:

    • At many venues, schooling is by prior appointment only, so call ahead.
    • Do not ride alone.
    • Consider the weather, and repair any damage to the footing.
    • Kindly leave your dogs at home.
    • In many cases a liability waiver, available from the manager, must be signed prior to unloading or mounting.
    • An ASTM approved helmet, safety vest and medical arm band are often required – and in any case highly recommended – for schooling cross-country.
    • A current Coggins is generally required.
    • Make sure that you know the current schooling fee and any other requirements particular to that venue.
    • If you are a volunteer at an event, you can often earn free schooling opportunities.

USEA/USEF Recognized Venues

Full Gallop Farm. Manager: Lara Anderson. Course: “Amoeba” (12”) through Intermediate, with some Advanced fences. Designed by John Williams and built by Tyson Rementer. Course runs over rolling, open hills, through short wooded paths and between fields. There are two water complexes, four bank complexes, intermediate corners, jump-throughs, brush fences and more. The footing is excellent.www.fullgallopfarm.com, fullgallopfarm@yahoo.com. 803-215-6590

Jumping Branch Farm. Manager: Julie Zapapas. Course: Tadpole through Preliminary course, including water, ditches and banks, goes along wooded paths and through open fields with rolling hills. There is also a galloping track and a dressage ring. Jumping Branch, like most places in Aiken, boasts excellent sandy footing.  Generally open year-round; closed if it rains and closed for two weeks before every show. www.jbfarm.com, zapapasj@bellsouth.net. 803-642-3484 (voicemail indicates if course open)

Paradise Farm. Manager: Lellie Ward. Course: Tadpole through Preliminary over open terrain including rolling, open hills and between fields. Paradise Farm features a nice, sloping hill that affords an impressive and extensive view of almost the entire course. Again, the footing here is superb. $50 schooling fee for XC, $25 to school show jumping, $20 to school dressage, $15 to hack around the property. Purchase schooling passes online, in advance, for a discount: $400 for ten cross-country schools. www.paradisefarmaiken.com, paradisefarm@gmail.com, 803-640-4918

Sporting Days in Aiken. Manager: Joannah Glass. Course: Home of the first recognized horse trials in Aiken, this established venue offers Tadpole through Preliminary courses including water, banks and ditches over open terrain. The footing is excellent. Free schooling often available for volunteers. www.sportingdaysfarm.com, sdaikenht@aol.com. 803-649-7075

Stable View: Aiken’s newest showplace facility is the winter base for a number of top event riders and the site of USEF high performance training sessions. The property features first-class cross-country courses from Beginner Novice through Preliminary levels, built by Eric Bull/ETB Equine Construction. Open fields and some woods on well-groomed and irrigated footing. The course is not open to the general public on a regular basis; however as a thank you to volunteers at both recognized schooling events at Stable View, schooling days are typically held the Saturday and Sunday following the event from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for volunteers only.  Contact Jennifer Helgrin: equestvolunteer@aol.com. Stable View info: www.stableviewfarm.com, info@stableviewfarm.com, 484-356-3173

Pine Top Farm. Managers: Glenn and Janet Wilson. Pine Top is just over an hour’s drive from Aiken, but with jumps up through the Advanced level, it’s worth the trip. The fences are varied and scattered across more than 200 acres of open fields and wooded areas, with multiple water complexes, banks and ditches. This winter, the course is undergoing a major rebuild under the guidance of course designer Derek di Grazia and will be closed until after the March event. www.pinetopfarm.com, glenn@pinetopfarm.com, FEE: $50. Call Janet first: 706-449-2029.

Other Places:

Bridle Creek Farm. Bridle Creek Farm is open for schooling to riders who schedule an appointment. There is an extensive schooling course including water and bank jumps, built by Eric Bull/ETB Equine Construction, with excellent footing. Fee: $40 per horse. Bridle Creek Farm’s rings and cross-country field are also available for horse shows, combined events and short course eventing. For facility rentals, please contact Ilene Boorman for terms, rates and availability: www.bridlecreekfarm.com, bridlecreekfarm@gmail.com, 202-457-7806. For schooling opportunities, email Meghan Perry of Meghan Perry Eventing: mpeventing@me.com

Three Runs Plantation. Course Info: Low, adjustable schooling fences in a field several acres in size, in varying combinations. There is a water jump with its own well, maintained at the correct depth. Schooling Fee: No fee. Only open to residents and their guests. Contact Info: Resident will take care of details. Or buy your own property and school for free! www.threerunsplantation.com