Horse lovers and their trusty steeds will find a second home in this bucolic equine destination, where training, competing, and even sleeping is horse centric.
For a horse girl like me, the mere mention of the opportunity to immerse myself in all things equine will have me pulling on my boots before you can say giddy up. I thought I was familiar with the “horse countries” around the nation, but one somehow escaped me – Thoroughbred Country, South Carolina.
The town of Aiken, within Thoroughbred Country, provides access to a wide variety of horse endeavors, whether you want to train or take lessons, cheer on a polo match, or simply ride on miles of trails. You will also find Stable View here, a former quail hunting lodge transformed into an impressive equestrian facility. Since opening in 2010, Stable View has played host to everyone from Olympians – including the Mexican Olympic Team who trained at the facility over the summer – to youth eventers seeking a top-class facility at an affordable price.
That means that virtually any day of the week, you can pull into the grounds, pick an arena, and watch hunter/jumper, dressage, or a 2,000-meter cross country event, all for free.
The feel of the facility and its ever-expanding grounds is low-key and welcoming – there’s no stuffiness or elite air in your surroundings. In fact, one of the most interesting – and fun – aspects of a stay here is the opportunity to sleep in a cozy, fully-equipped room in the stables. The upstairs space where I laid my head has been converted into a private suite, complete with a kitchen and two bedrooms. There’s something surreal about stepping just outside your room, peering over the railing, and seeing horses in their stalls, chomping on hay and letting out the occasional whinny.
You can also rent three-bedroom bungalows for your family or single-bedroom “Hunt Boxes” for yourself. The property’s proximity to historic downtown Aiken means there’s no shortage of restaurants and shopping when you’re ready to step away from the horses for a bit.
At 1,000 acres, 800 of which is conserved land, the property features plenty of flora and fauna to explore. Aside from taking long walks around the arenas and through the woods filled with long-leaf pines, you can bike 15 miles of trails. And bonus, since the weather in Aiken is temperate, this is a year-round destination for horse-lovers, with about 42 events taking place at Stable View alone.
A recent addition is the Healing Arts at Stable View. Begun as an opportunity for wellness for anyone – riders and non-riders alike – it’s the first of its kind at an equine facility in Thoroughbred Country. Healing Arts began in January of 2023 with twice-a-week yoga and a monthly retreat. It was the dreamchild of co-owner Cyndy Olliff and her co-owner husband Barry; together, they are working to expand their programming and build a Healing Arts Studio that will be nestled in the forest and provide a true retreat from the outside world.
For now, classes are held in the Pavilion building at the center of the property. In addition to yoga, monthly retreats that include a meditative walk and a sound healing session are also available. It’s a half-day of stretching, decompressing, and getting grounded – ideal for riders or anyone who just needs to align a chakra or two.
If you’re looking for an easy getaway – one that’s close to Columbia, Augusta, Atlanta, and Charleston – Aiken and Thoroughbred Country are a wonderful escape, a place where you can leave the world behind and channel your inner horse-lover.