My friend and I would like to spend 7-10 days south this winter in Aiken. She is not a beginner rider, but has a green horse and will be competing BN. I am a solid N on the cusp of going T - first for both me and my horse.
So - what are everyone's favorite venues in and around Aiken? Looks like the choices are Jumping Branch, Full Gallop, and Sporting Days.
Are you looking for places to school or compete? Julie at Jumping Branch is no longer holding recognized events, but is a great place for schooling. I like Full Gallop they have stuff to school for all levels and run a good event. You could probably find stabling at either place as well, although I know Julie generally has quite a number of people who winter at her place. Another nice place is Paradise. Pine Top really isn't that far from Aiken either.
If you're looking for a nice place to hack one day, I'd suggest going to Hitchcock woods!
The provisional competition calendar: http://www.usea3.org/Docs/HT-2010-Calendar.pdf
My opinion (again just that) on the Aiken Horse trial scene:
FOr greenies/newbies and move ups you cannot find a better place than Jumping Branch. Yes Julie has stopped running recognized HT's however don;t be surprised if she has her March one was a schooling HT. Jumping Branch is a user friendly place.
Hone your skills at either Sporting Days and/or Full Gallop, both are a little more challenging and their courses tend to be a little "tighter" but again good places to compete. Johanna Glass only has cross country schooling available during her many schooling shows (Once she gets them started they are every Wednesday). Full Gallop is more liberal with their cross country schooling the exception being the weeks preceding an HT.
The more challenging venues are Paradise and Pine Top, with Paradise (again my opinion) being the most challenging bang for your buck. I love the feeling of accomplishment there when I cross the finish line of Cross Country (and challenges of doing dressage along side of HWY 302) knowing I have just become a better rider for it.
If you can time your trip correctly you can hit at least 3 or 4 of the 5 in the series.
Hope this helps! I love it here!
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