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Totally envious of all you Aiken and Southern Pines spring-schoolers. Questions!

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  • #21
    I think Aiken is far more worth the cost than Denny camp. A friend of mine recently spent 10 days in Aiken. She hooked up with a trainer (who used to own her horse), took a bunch of lessons, did a CT, then an HT.

    The thing about Aiken is you are SURROUNDED by the best of the best. You ride your horse in the morning, then be a rail bird for a few hours or the rest of the day.

    If I was financially able and had the time THIS is what I would do exactly. Pack up for X amount of time, hook up with a trainer I like ( or a couple) take a BUNCH of lessons, hack in the Hitchcock Woods, and set fences and watch lessons. The eat at Taco Sushi and the brew pub.

    Southern Pines is nice, but I think you get a lot out of time spent in Aiken. Lots of different programs and trainers and teaching and riding styles to absorb.


    • Original Poster

      Aiken is only 75 miles farther than Southern Pines. And warmer, too. I've had both towns on my weather app on my phone this past month, ogling the temperatures enviously every morning.
      Click here before you buy.


      • #23
        Don't get me wrong, I do like Southern Pines, but I think Aiken offers a lot more. And, I think you'll have more flexibility as to WHEN you can go. You don't HAVE to go for a certain camp. You can pick any week from about mid Jan until the end of March, and get lots of great riding, lessons, learning, relaxing, and a show or two in.


        • #24
          Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
          I think Aiken is far more worth the cost than Denny camp. A friend of mine recently spent 10 days in Aiken. She hooked up with a trainer (who used to own her horse), took a bunch of lessons, did a CT, then an HT.

          The thing about Aiken is you are SURROUNDED by the best of the best. You ride your horse in the morning, then be a rail bird for a few hours or the rest of the day.

          If I was financially able and had the time THIS is what I would do exactly. Pack up for X amount of time, hook up with a trainer I like ( or a couple) take a BUNCH of lessons, hack in the Hitchcock Woods, and set fences and watch lessons. The eat at Taco Sushi and the brew pub.

          Southern Pines is nice, but I think you get a lot out of time spent in Aiken. Lots of different programs and trainers and teaching and riding styles to absorb.
          I have to agree with Yellowbritches.
          A big part of the fun for us is the people we're with. I think where friends and trainers go strongly influences where to spend the vacation. Aiken is a really cool town with a lot of history. We don't push our horses at all, we're definitely there for fun and to school. Nor do we clip them, although most do. A couple of our morning rides last week the temps were in the mid 30's, the days warming to mid 60's or so. But the footing is great most everywhere. We ride at most once a day, rotate between flat, stadium, hacks and XC schools with days off. The time flies by, but it's nice to be able to immerse yourself without the usual work and daily life hassles. It is a great place to learn, and like I said, blow some of the rust off.


          • Original Poster

            So come with me! (Amanda, not Tom. Tom, you can come along but it would be weird.)
            Click here before you buy.


            • #26
              Ah what a timely thread! I would love to go and audit the high performance sessions.
              Is it possible to go and take lessons on horses if you don't bring your own?
              We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.


              • #27
                DW--you would be welcome to join my group, we go down & help at the advanced horse trials and then stay for two weeks, may finagle a 3rd week next year. It's an hour from Aiken proper, but we have gone to school at Gibbes as well & went in to watch the training sessions this year. I love to go, when I get home winter is on its last gasp. I've been going down to Pine Top on and off since 2001; I am so fortunate that they let me bring a gaggle down each year, it is an amazing place to have to ourselves!


                • #28
                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                  So come with me! (Amanda, not Tom. Tom, you can come along but it would be weird.)
                  I would be there in a heartbeat (snort!)!!! Just this pesky job and boarders and horses expecting me to suffer through the winter for them.....now if the farm sells, you totally have a deal!


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post

                    Are there any/many H/J shows going on down there during March? I love to go watch some nice hunters.
                    Check out the Highfield's calendar, there is usually a ton of stuff going on there hunter/jumper wise: http://www.psjshows.com/highfields.php


                    • #30
                      I am going to try to go for a month next year. I have the luxury of working from home so I am hoping whatever team I hook up with can work around my "working hours" I am figuring $1800/mo for full care training board incl 5 lessons a week, plus shows and trailering which I think is completely worth it.
                      Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                      you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.


                      • #31
                        Oh Man, DW, I totally feel your pain! Especially since we are suppose to get hit with another six inches of the white stuff. Ugh! Enough already. I am in a town where half of the horse population goes down to Aiken for the entire winter. I really am beginning to hate them.
                        I would love to go for the month of March. By the time I got back the weather would be very tolerable even with the rain and mud. I dunno if I could afford to do it but if I could find someplace to stay and play with my horses, I sure would!


                        • #32
                          I am just grumpy because of the weather, er winter.


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Duramax View Post
                            Check out the Highfield's calendar, there is usually a ton of stuff going on there hunter/jumper wise: http://www.psjshows.com/highfields.php
                            Yes and there are eventers showing at both the rated AA and the unrated shows.
                            Three day events in Aiken and nearby.
                            And lots of other fun equine stuff. This Saturday is the spring jump race meet ( although it's probably sold out by now).
                            Breakfast at the Track Kitchen.
                            The Aiken Trials - flat racing was last week and the final leg of the Aiken Triple Crown is a polo match.
                            USEA training sessions held in Aiken.
                            Hunting in Hitchcock Woods.
                            Pretty much something to do everyday
                            Fan of Sea Accounts


                            • #34
                              Auburn piping in here.

                              I am sorry that so many of the folks in Southern Pines and Vass are upset that I mentioned that my mare was hurt by the deeper sand footing, as diagnosed by 2 separate Vets (one in NC and my Vet here in KY).

                              I agree that the hard, two a day workouts, 40 degree temps in the rain and on the sunny days (not for what you are looking DW, if you want to stay warm!), plus the deeper sand caused my mare to strain all four fetlocks. The left one has some shredding of the fibers, which has caused me to scratch the Paul Frazer CT and Spring Bay HT, too.

                              Before I left for NC, I had worked up to conditioning for over an hour, 3 days per week. I was up to 4, 4 minute trot sets, 2 min. walks in between the trot sets, plus 2, 2 minute canter sets. I rode 4-5 days per week in a 3" deep, sand arena. I added dressage and jumping onto the conditioning days, too. My BN level horse was in great shape for her level. However, she was not in shape for deeper sand, than in which she was used to schooling. BTW, the footing in the indoor arena, that we used in camp, was perfect.

                              Once again, I am sorry that the folks from Southern Pines are upset. I wish that WE could afford to live there. It is a beautiful place! The instructors at the camp were wonderfull! However, my horse and a couple of others could not handle the deeper sand. I am certain that any horse could acclimate, if given more time to get used to it. Those of you who live there have had the time to do so. If you come to KY and get a stone bruise from the rocky soil here, I will not be affronted. It happens. I do not blame the Sandhills of NC for this happening to my mare. I was just telling my experience.

                              I enjoyed the camp and learned so much, despite what happened to my horse.

                              However, I feel like I never want to return to Southern Pines. Those of you who live there and have taken this matter so personally, have discounted two Vets' opinions and made me feel like I am an awful person for speaking about what happened to me. If I could save someone else some grief by letting them know that they should leg up in deeper sand, then should not I do so?

                              Southern Pines and Vass, NC are lovely areas of the country. Although very cold for most of the week, the temps did make it into the 60's for the HT.

                              I have not been to Aiken, but hear that it is lovely, too.
                              When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


                              • #35
                                I think it depends on what you are familiar with -- I prefer the Carolinas to Aiken, not in small part because Aiken is 5 hours away, ack! Plus I know people here so it gives some more flexibility. Folks are so generous with their space, it really doesn't have to be expensive. The most expensive part for us is the lessons themselves -- a paddock and a bed can be had very cheaply thanks to the generosity of kind event people!

                                ETA -- sand in EITHER place can very much be an issue for a horse who is not used to it. Arena footing is NOT the same as the sandhills at all, there are many areas in both states where the loose sandpits can get deep and one must ride carefully. Injuries happen and strains do happen. You do need to know your horse and proceed carefully if they are not acclimated to widely ranging surfaces. A couple years ago, the Nationals for endurance racing was held in SC sand -- many horses from up north or out west were pulled or retired with injuries b/c they were not hardened for the deep footing.

                                But we know horses can hurt themselves anywhere -- it's just up to us to do our best to make sure they are as prepared as possible and we have minimized as much risk as we can.
                                Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                We Are Flying Solo


                                • Original Poster

                                  For the record, Auburn, I didn't feel like your posts about your experience (and I'm sorry for Tess and yoU!) were in any way a slap at Southern Pines, nor a blanket condemnation of going down there with a horse. I took Gwennie down there for the original AEC in 2004 (?) and thought the footing was gorgeous. But she was dead fit at the time and had been working hard. It is definitely worth considering when one is bringing a horse that is only working indoors, and this is duly noted.
                                  Click here before you buy.


                                  • #37
                                    Auburn, I'm sorry for your experience, but I think the point most are making is that there are PLENTY of horses that come and go from SP and Aiken for various amounts of time and DON'T get injured. I don't know why your mare got hurt, but I don't think SP is the lameness sure bet that your story makes it out to be. I've spent time in SP (and lots of time in Aiken and Camden, SC...which, btw, is the sandiest of all three), and have never had an issue like that. I've actually REHABBED tendon horses down there. And I've had horses go footsore on occasion. There are A LOT of horses that go with their owners for a week, two weeks, a month, etc, and return home happy and sound. If anything, you're a one off. I'm sorry for you. You seem to have rotten luck, but I don't think your issue is typical.


                                    • #38
                                      I love Aiken. Haven't gone the past couple of years (time/money/older horse) but in the past went pretty regularly. I agree that if you can figure out the finances, it can be helpful to send your horse down ahead of you if there's someone down there you trust to take care of them- I think they often travel better with a commercial shipper, and you can that way maximize your time down there.

                                      I would find a coach or trainer you like that would work with you regularly - many people have day rates that include or nearly include regular lessons, schooling, etc. Everyone has favorites (and not-so-favorites), but there's such a wide variety that you can find someone whose style you like who will have the time to work with you and who you'll enjoy auditing their lessons when you're not riding. You can set up a week or two around a couple of horse trials - the mid-week ones are particularly nice if they are still going on, and then plan on going to a "big" show over the weekend to watch the upper levels (like doing Sporting Days or Full Gallop midweek and then watching the Pine Top advanced). Maybe also schedule around when you think there might be HP training sessions, which can be really fun to watch too.

                                      I think the old man's days of that much travel are probably over, but hoping my youngster might go down next year or thereafter - so will let you know if we end up doing that and you'd be more than welcome to tag along!


                                      • #39
                                        I would recommend checking with Becky Holder http://grind001.wix.com/teamholder#!vstc0=training or Sally Cousins http://sallycousins.com/Sally-Cousin...ing-Aiken.html, both of whom are very flexible and reasonably priced for short stays and both of whom are incredible trainers. Sally has lots of opportunities to get out schooling, etc. all of which is included. I did the 2011 season with Sally and it was amazing. I got a great rental deal on a room in a house and there is stuff on aikenhorseonline and craigs list for people housing or you can stay at one of the less expensive hotels. Country Suites and Sleep Inn are both reasonable, but not scummy and on the correct side of town if riding with Sally. Let me know if this begins to materialize. I am vaguely considering Aiken next year, just for a change of pace, but I like the warmer Florida weather. GotSpots gives good advice about timing. I did a longer stay when I went to Aiken. For Florida, I have done 3 day weekends, using my vacation time over a 6 - 8 week period, but only needing to take 8-10 days of vacation time to do it.
                                        OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                                        • #40
                                          Didn't mean to drag you into this, Auburn, I apologize. Your story resonated with me because my gelding is very particular about footing and I could NEVER take him somewhere with footing that is so different from what he is used to. Not all horses are the same and it is not always a management issue. I don't have any problem believing the opinion of 2 vets!

                                          Again, my apologies.