View Full Version : Tell me about Aiken in the winter :)

Sep. 26, 2009, 10:13 AM
It's 4 months away, but my summer eventing season did not happen (remember all my whining about lame horses, hitting walls etc. ;) ) so you can imagine my excitement at the fact that I may be able to go to Aiken this year!!!
Are there any other hard working adult ammies like me making the trip? How long to you guys typically go down for? Where do you stay? Do your horses go with your coach or somewhere else? Do you abandon your husbands/babies/farms? Do you feel guilty about it?
Hubby is not 100% on board yet, but if he knew there were other members of the US Eventers' Husbands Association in attendance it would be an easier sell. I hope i can still find his t-shirt, lol!!!
So spill it: tell me about Aiken - I'm pumped!!!!

Sep. 26, 2009, 11:24 AM
I'm making the trip again this year. I usually head down around the third/fourth week of January, stay until the beginning of March, move to Raeford for Southern Pines Horse Trials I/II, and then head back home. I live in my motor home which gets parked right next to the barn where my ponies stable off of Hatchaway Bridge Road. My coach is at the same barn with her horses, so it's an intensively wonderful way get a head start on the season. Hubby Steve drives the horses down for me and comes back when we compete, but it's just the ponies, my dog Sully, and me for the majority of the time.

Feel guilty? Um, probably not as much as I should, especially on the days when I'm wearing a t-shirt on a sunny and 78 degree day in Aiken while Steve is chopping ice out of the water buckets wearing three layers and insulated cover-alls on a snowy and minus 10 degree day at home.

Sep. 26, 2009, 12:34 PM
I have switched to Florida, but used to do Aiken. Sent horse down with coach from around end of January to mid-late March. I work up here 3-5 days each week and fly down for the weekends (which has gotten more expensive). I have done hotels or renting a shared apartment for the season, which works fairly well. I take work with me and work when not riding (though it is surprising how much stuff there is to do and how well it sucks time :lol:). DH comes down for one weekend and throws a great party for the gang in Aiken. That weekend, we stay at the Willcox, which is really nice.

Sep. 26, 2009, 09:13 PM
Aiken ROCKS. Emstah and I will be there end of January through March. I'm trying to stretch it out into April. Last winter Em and I and our 3 dogs had a little house in town, our 3 horses were out at New Bridge Polo with our coach and her students/horses. We did all our own work which cut the board in half. We got there around the beginning of February and came home May 1st. That was a tiny bit too long. This year we'll be at a different place, with living space attached to the barn. :)
Yes, abandoned hubby and farm. We left one horse, one dog, 3 chickens and 4 cats at home. Had a great crew in and out of here who switched off caring for the abandoned. Hub came down for a week. There is no guilt. Guilt is a useless emotion. Ya, sorry they all had to suffer the Maine cold but plenty happy to be hacking my horse on sand in a t-shirt. Not to mention galloping, jumping, competing, picking paddocks, sweeping aisles, swimming the dogs, eating supper on the terrace......You cannot beat Aiken. It is dreamy.

Sep. 27, 2009, 03:05 PM
Awesome :)
I'm so excited! Hubby is planning to come down for a couple of weeks. I may do 3 weeks in march and fly in for a couple of extra weekends as well. Horses will probably be at Jumping Branch with my coach and may stay a little longer to travel to So Pines as well. Maybe we should plan a COTH winter eventing season terrace rendez-vous? The more I drink, the less guilty I feel ;)

Sep. 27, 2009, 03:16 PM
count on it. take it to the bank (and LOL, there is NOTHING else you can do that with in horses...) :cool:

Sep. 27, 2009, 05:41 PM
I go to Aiken in the winter, and I stay with my trainer and my horses at her farm (Jumping Branch). Super fabulous! No guilt, I have a teenaged son who is forgetting about me more and more and am separated-almost divorced, so that's all good. I love Aiken, every single bit of it! Jumping Branch is delicious and I get to hang out with my trainer who is also my good friend, so it makes for a very fun time. I am going to school this year, so I don't know how much time I can go, maybe just for my winter break. But it is soooooo worth it!

Sep. 27, 2009, 09:34 PM
Okay, I get it - Aiken's so fabulous in winter that everyone gets to be down there guilt-free with their ponies. I could do that! But what else is there to do down there besides play with the ponies?

Sep. 28, 2009, 10:38 PM
Go, go, go if you can afford it finacially - Absolutely no guilt, so no emotional expense!
I went in '06 - I'm saving pennines to go back this winter. The time suck post was accurate. It's horses 24/7. Taking your own lessons, horse care, hacking out w/ the working students and grooms, watching BNT teach lessons, competing on the weekends and on Wed. It's horse heaven from Jan through March. I'd stay as long as I could afford to.
As for non-horsey stuff, Aiken is really cute, nice restaurants and some shopping, but you will find that it's absolutely horse time consuming. It's fun to walk into a restaurant and over half the customers are event riders; eating well, drinking well and telling war stories. it's a den of horse talk and horse activity and it's remarkable how the population shrinks at the end of March.

lucky dog farm
Sep. 28, 2009, 10:59 PM
Drool, Drool.Drool!!! I so want to go to Aiken this year. My riding season will be ending soon and then no riding until end of March. I wonder if I could get my husband to get on board with it. He loves golf and I am assuming there are golf courses down there. I also wonder if I could find a place so I could bring the 6 horses and 5 dogs. Cats and the bird can can stay home.

Sep. 29, 2009, 09:06 AM
Go, go, go if you can afford it finacially -

How much would a winter in Aiken cost?

Sep. 29, 2009, 09:35 AM
How much would a winter in Aiken cost?
Are you KIDDING me? We don't ever actually add it up!!!!!!

Figure a house is roughly $1000-2000/month. A room in someone's house is roughly $100/week. Figure a stall is roughly $300-1000, depending on how much work you're willing to do. Hay is expensive. We take our own bc we cut our own fields here, meaning we have to pay to ship the boys down. From Maine is about $550/horse. Then there are all the xc schoolings you'll want to do, events you'll want to enter, food you'll want to eat, beer you'll want to drink, tack you'll want to buy, puppies you'll want to adopt.......o gosh, it is such fun. Not to mention, a very good and serious experience for your horses. You gotta do it.:winkgrin::cool:

Sep. 29, 2009, 09:57 AM
Went for 2 weeks in Feb. It was all I could afford, and worth every penny. Stayed with a trainer. Took 3 horses, so was quite busy keeping all three ridden and competing - didn't need any other activities. Bonus - lost 15 lbs during the 2 weeks. Need to do it again!!!:)

Sep. 29, 2009, 10:03 AM
Went for 2 weeks in Feb. It was all I could afford, and worth every penny. Stayed with a trainer. Took 3 horses, so was quite busy keeping all three ridden and competing - didn't need any other activities. Bonus - lost 15 lbs during the 2 weeks. Need to do it again!!!:)

Sounds like you were with Sal?! :lol:

Sep. 29, 2009, 10:08 AM
Ok guys if you can only go for ONE week, which week would you pick?
Bearing in mind that the season starts up here the end of March - and I wouldn't want to be going in Jan., if I am not competing until March at home.

Sep. 29, 2009, 11:53 AM
Retread, go later so you can head home and keep going. Look at the provisional calendar on the Area III site and see what's happening early/mid March. There are no bad events - it's event heaven from Jan thru March!!!!

Sep. 29, 2009, 12:18 PM
Can I just say I'm SO DANG JEALOUS?

I bought my wonderful new pony from Aiken, riding him three days in a row in the Hitchcock woods. Heaven.

IF I am successful in going up for full professor, and IF I get a sabbatical after I'm full, I'm planning to spend as long as I can afford there. So everyone, keep your fingers, toes, etc. crossed so that I might be able to do this in a couple years...!!!!

In the mean time, y'all keep talking so I can live vicariously through you. :lol:

Sep. 29, 2009, 03:40 PM
I can already taste the great food from Olive Oils! And am dreaming of hacking out in Hitchcock Woods, foxhunting during Aiken Hunt Week, and maybe even watching a little bit of polo. Kid is working with a trainer and a great group of girls this year, so I will have more time on my hands enjoying Aiken, while she works her butt off! I love Aiken.

Sep. 29, 2009, 04:43 PM
I can already taste the great food from Olive Oils!

Sorry to tell you, Olive Oil closed last year. It has a great and delicious restaurant in its stead......blanking on its name right now.......the new guy was so gung-ho when he opened he was even going to look into doing Vegan recipes for Emstah! Still deff worth a trip!

Sep. 29, 2009, 05:23 PM
Oh no, last year Cuizine, this year Olive Oils...The place was always packed. How could this happen? So so sad. Any other suggestions for favorite eats? We can only dine at Maria's but so many times. I am bummed.

Sep. 29, 2009, 05:50 PM
HMMMMMM, the food choices are soo great!!!

THere is Tacosushi (sp), where you can get awesome mexican or sushi.

Then there is Cafe Blanco, hmmmm great cuban food. I've eaten there like once a week and still haven't had a bad meal. The sangria is really tasty too.

Pat's restuarant is good home cooking and breakfast. Only open until 3pm (I think) then is a martini bar at night. So a great place on the chilly days here in Aiken because the food is stick to your ribs good stuff.

There is always stuff going on at the Tiki bar and the Aiken hotel. THere are a bunch of other places to eat in Aiken (more dressy/ richer places) that I have been to a hand full of times- Oliva's, good food, but very few choices and the manager is very opinionated.

Best pizza joint is in Williston called Russel's Pizza- AWESOME pizza!!! The actual pizza joint in Aiken sucks for food, but good prices on alcohal and beer. Usually has live music on saturday night too. The have a great Aiken marketplace to get some fresh, organic food and other goods with a bakery. There is a sandwhich/ coffee shop dowtown and a place to order meals to take home. Also a wonderful ice cream joint too. There is malea's but haven't eaten there and 100 Laurens- food was good but pricey.

Another place to try for breakfast is the Track Kitchen. So much to do and eat. THey also have your typical chain restaurants in the other side of Aiken.

Sep. 29, 2009, 07:44 PM
The Bowery, Up Your Alley, Stoplight Deli. I'm moving back after 11 years at the end of October. Look forward to seeing y'all.

Sep. 29, 2009, 09:45 PM
But it's soooo far to drive!!! I took the pony down to Southern Pines last spring & SWORE I'd never do that trip again....but now that winter's coming, it's not so hard to think about! Polly - how does one find houses/rooms for rent? Is there a Classifieds listing you'd recommend? Or is it more word of mouth?

Sep. 30, 2009, 12:31 AM
Go to Aikenhorsesonline.com - there are all sorts of classifieds and a message board.

Oct. 5, 2009, 10:06 PM
aiken is great!!! use to stay at longwood in ocala which frankly is like disneyland for eventers. that place is incredible but there were not many shows to do. so i chose to try aiken 4 yrs ago and will never switch.
have stayed on the farm,, in aiken hotel,, and rented a home. slept best at aiken hotel which is odd because we were in the dog wing. so many events in such a close proximity...it can't be beat. always something to do. i have rescued three dogs down there so i am at my limit with a total of four. aiken is not expensive...our hobby/passion is. last yr i swore to control myself. i brought two horses instead of one....took more lessons than ever...rented a lavish apt...and spent more money on tack and blankets...my new ottb needed stuff of course....and didn't work for 7 wks. i am a nurse so i do agency...no jobs down there last yr so i played. came home to bills and then my new guy colicked and of course surgery was required...spent all summer working...competed twice due to funds and lack of time and am trying to figure out how i can do it all over again...without the colic. lol. go!!!!! it is the best time ever. by the way,,,, hitchcock woods is the absolute best time.

Oct. 6, 2009, 03:13 PM
A:Diken has everything to do with having fun..social engagements almost every night-start at the wilcox and then head on to laurens street for hotel aiken and all the local hang outs-there is shopping,eating,and riding and watching polo,eventers,driving is huge and show jumpers too..its so busy..ck out www.aikenhorsesonline.com for more info and check the calendar dates too...lots of people come to aiken so there will be some one u know here!!: