Meteorological spring arrived last Sunday, March 1. The weather gods have responded and smiled on Aiken: it is actually spring here this week, with warm weather, sunshine and spring showers. The grass is turning green, the trees are budding and blooming, and there seems to be horsehair everywhere. Although the temperatures will be a little cooler this weekend, it’s going to be bright and sunny — perfect for enjoying the outdoors on a horse.
This weekend, March 7-8, is another active one, with a plethora of horse events, including eventing, horse shows, driving events and the semi-annual Audubon trail ride, which offers an exceptional opportunity to explore the trails of the Silver Bluff Audubon refuge by horseback.
Eventers have center stage this season, and this is another good weekend for them. On Saturday, there is a Dressage Test of Choice at Full Gallop Farm. This is followed, on Sunday, by a USEA/USEF horse trials, also at Full Gallop. Ride times and schedules are posted (click the links above to access them.)
Other major competitions for eventers in the Southeast this weekend include the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Fla, which offers the first International CIC three star of the year. This event attracts a number of top and up-and-coming competitors, including several that make Aiken their winter home. The Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, NC is also holding its first recognized horse trials of the year this weekend: the Southern Pines Horse Trials. A number of Aiken riders are planning to be there.
Here in Aiken, hunter jumper riders will continue to compete in March Madness II, a show going on at Highfields Event Center. Highlights include a $10,000 and a $15,000 mini prix on Sunday.
The Aiken area also boasts two competitions for driving competitors. The first, on Saturday, is a schooling horse driving trial and combined training at Gilcrest Farm in Windsor, that will include standard dressage tests and cones courses along with a modified marathon course. The second, on Sunday, is the final qualifying competition for the “Windsor World Cup” series at Katydid Farm, also in Windsor. The finals for this series will be on April 5.
This first full weekend of spring sounds action-packed, but this is just one example of the kind of diverse equestrian events that are available in Aiken. The following week is just as full of activity: On the evening of Tuesday, March 10, Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin will give their first Masterclass at Stable View Farm, with proceeds going to Equine Rescue of Aiken and the Aiken Horse Park Foundation. Wednesday, there is an eventing derby at Sporting Days Farm and on Thursday, a CT and dressage show at Apple Tree Farm.
This all leads into the weekend of March 14, which is the date of the Aiken Trials and the first Saturday of the Aiken Triple Crown. There are many more activities surrounding this event, including Breakfast at the Gallops (Friday, March 13) and the Aiken Trained Horse of the Year and induction ceremony at the Aiken Thoroughbred Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Spring is in the air, and there is a lot on the calendar. Where will you be this weekend?