Northern horse lovers flock to Aiken

Image by Flickr user NovakImage by 20081009aiken.jpg The annual Blessing of the Hounds. Crazy.

Aiken is one of those town's in South Carolina I occasionally hear things about but would never think to think to visit, but maybe that's because I'm not a horse person.

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The New York Times has an extensive piece on how the town has a thriving horse-related culture, and the Northerners are flocking to it. An excerpt:
“It’s a different world down here, laid- back, no stress and all horses,” said Ms. Giobe, a rider and a retired New York investment banker. “On Halloween, kids dress up and go trick-or-treating on horseback. The bell rings, you open the door, and a horse walks his front hooves into your house.”

The Giobes bought a 5,100-square-foot brick house on 2.5 acres for $980,000 in 2002. “You don’t get attitudes in Aiken,” Ms. Giobe said. “Everyone’s friendly. It’s a nonstop party.” ...

There’s no such thing as holding your horses in Aiken.

There are steeplechases, fox hunts, polo matches and other competitive events. The streets downtown have names like Citation Drive, Ruffian Road and Saratoga Street, and the sidewalks feature a herd of life-size fiberglass horses. In the center of the city is the Hitchcock Woods, one of the largest urban forests in America, a nearly 2,000-acre preserve meant for horsy fun, complete with hilly trails and jumps.

Never would have guessed. Go read the full article.

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