Big May Weekend

The grass is green, the weather spectacular, and Aiken is gearing up for a big spring weekend of equestrian events.  It’s a weekend that demonstrates both the depth and the breadth of Aiken’s equestrian community, with activities for many different disciplines and at many different levels. Where will you be?


Marcos Onetto on the ball

Marcos Onetto playing for Peachtree on his Best Playing Pony Elephant.

There are five polo tournaments in progress at three different clubs, including 6-goals at Aiken Polo Club and Wagener Polo Club, an 8-goal at Aiken Polo Club, and an 8-goal and a 12-goal at New Bridge Polo Club. Games this weekend are on Friday and Sunday. (Check our calendar with the tag “polo” for complete details. )

The USPA Congressional Cup 8-Goal at Aiken Polo Club will hold its finals on Sunday at 3pm on historic Whitney Field. The tournament, which includes four teams, has been going on since April 24. One finalist, Peachtree, is already set. Peachtree, is headlined by the 4-goaler Marcos Onetto and the 3-goaler Will Tankard along with Amy  Flowers (A) and Randy Rizor (1). The team has been especially strong, winning all of its match games, including an exciting face-off last Sunday with Hutchinson Farms. This match, which Peachtree won 11-10, was particularly interesting because it pitted Marcos Onetto against his older brother Horacio, also 4-goals.

The second finalist for the USPA Congressional Cup Finals will either be Kenny Ray Personal Fitness or Hutchinson Farms, depending on which team wins the Friday 2PM game at Meadow Hill Field 2. In either case, the finals game is sure to be action-packed. Aiken Polo’s Sunday games are geared to spectators. Come to watch from the sidelines, or purchase admission to the new viewing pavilion where you can enjoy hors d’oeuvres catered this week by Aiken Polo Club and a full bar sponsored by Remax/Tattersall Group.  The game starts at 3 PM: get there early to avoid the crowd at the in-gate. Check out the APC website for more information.

In other polo action: The Aiken Saddlery 6-Goal at Fox Nation also holds its finals on Sunday. This game is at 11 am. Again, one finalist is set: Hutchinson Farms, which features Horacio Onetto (he may have to play two finals on Sunday.) The other finalist will be determined at the 3pm game on Friday, May 8 between Jimeni Farm and Brookland/Brandywine. If Jimeni Farm (Kim Snider, Alex Lopez, Will Tankard, Nate Berube) wins, they will go to the final (In this case, Will Tankard will be playing two finals on Sunday.) If they lose, it will be between three teams, Jimeni, Brookland/Brandywine and Derry Heir. All three teams will have the same won-lost record, and the decision will be based on the number of net goals on each team’s record. Brookline/Brandywine has to win by 6 to be sure to make it to the final. If Brookline/Brandywine team wins by fewer goals than this, Derry Heir will likely be the finalist, although this could also depend on other factors in the scoring.  See the Wagener Polo website for more information. Also check the New Bridge Polo website for games at that club — they have finals coming up next week.

Eventing, Horse Shows, Trail Rides, Western Activities

audubon trail ride

Riders on the trails at the Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary

Polo not your cup of tea? There are many other things going on this weekend. On Saturday, the Spring Audubon Trail Ride will give riders the chance to explore the trails of the Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary by horseback. The ride starts at 9 am. It costs $35 and lunch is provided.  Trails go through tall woods, past meadows and along the Savannah River.

Stable View Farm

Going into the water at Stable View Farm

Saturday also features a schooling horse trial at Stable View Farm starting at 9 am and ending in the early afternoon. (Check ride times here.) Gale Libby Curtiss will be announcing, and if you haven’t had a chance to see the new course at Stable View and you have some time this weekend, this is a golden opportunity.

At Highfields in town, there will be a PSJ schooling horse show on Saturday and Sunday. Action starts at 7:45 am on both mornings and includes classes for children and adults, ranging from lead line and short stirrup to jumpers. The full schedule of events can be found here. 

Hunter jumping

Hunter class at Highfields Event Center

Want to sample some western events? You have two choices. At the Hippodrome in North Augusta, the Area 18 of the Cutting Horse Association is holding a show on Saturday and Sunday with classes for youth, novices, champions and seniors. Action starts at 9:00am and goes on all day. Find the schedule here.

Out in Edgefield at Recoleta Ranch, there are sorting events all weekend. This includes round robins and on Friday evening (starts at 6:30pm), Saturday afternoon and Sunday at 9:30. (Don’t forget Cowboy Church at 9:00am) On Saturday, the Ranch Sorting National Championship sanctioned show will be at Recoleta. Action starts at 10:00 am with round robins to follow.

With all of this activity going on in Aiken, this seems like one of those weekends when the most difficult thing is deciding what not to do. The sun is out, the horses are feeling good and it is not too hot. Whether you ride, compete or spectate, Aiken is a great place to be.