Aiken is a Special Place
If you’ve been here for any length of time, you realize that Aiken is a very special place. Unlike most towns, it’s designed with the safety of horses and riders in mind. Here are things that make Aiken so different, as well as some suggestions for Aiken’s Horse District Etiquette that will keep everyone safe:
Many of the roads in the center of downtown are not paved. They’re still dirt roads because the softer footing benefits horses’ feet and legs. The dirt roads allow horses and riders to train on the roads without slipping, or damaging their joints.
Then there’s the Hitchcock Woods – a 2100 acre preserve with over 65 miles of trails in the middle of town where mountain bikers and motorized vehicles are prohibited, for the safety of horses.
There is a traffic light on Whiskey Road with a button high enough for equestrians to reach. This traffic light allows horses and riders to safely cross a busy road without fear of being hit.
There are multiple polo fields, training tracks, schooling areas right in the heart of the downtown, accessible from historic barns and stables built back in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s.
So…if you find yourself driving, jogging, riding your bike, pushing a stroller, or walking your dog through Aiken’s Historic Horse District, here are some rules you should know:
- The speed limit in the Horse District is 15 MPH. Err on the side of caution, SLOWER is always better
- ALWAYS give horses the right of way
- STOP your car, bike, or yourself, pull over, and allow horse or horses to pass by safely before proceeding
- If you are approaching from behind, SPEAK loudly and clearly, making sure both horse and rider know you’re there
- Horses spook very easily from BEHIND, as they do not have the ability to see directly behind themselves
- Give horse and rider a VERY wide berth
- Keep your dogs on leash, and never let them bark or act aggressively toward horses. Ideally, they sit quietly by your side while horse and rider pass by.
- BE PATIENT. If you are in a rush, DO NOT go through the horse district. Choose another route.
The Bottom Line
Remember that some of the horses you encounter will be young, and inexperienced. There may be others who are super fit, conditioned and very high strung. They may react or spook at something as minor as a paper cup on the ground, or the sound of a child behind them on a bike. Horses have a well honed flight response and will often spin and/or run away when scared. Causing a rider to fall off, or a panicked horse to run into traffic can be disastrous.
Expect that if you travel through the Horse District, depending on the time of day, you’ll see multiple horses and riders. Relax, enjoy, speak to the riders and give yourself more than enough time to enjoy the scenes and sights without becoming impatient. Remember, the horses and riders you see may be the next Kentucky Derby winner, Olympic medalist, or a child on a pony learning to ride. Please treat them all with the utmost respect and care. Follow the rules of Aiken’s Horse District Etiquette, and check out this article with additional insight.
If you’re interested in living your Best Life in Aiken, we’d love to give you a private tour of the Historic Horse District. Here’s a link of all the equestrian properties currently on the market in Aiken. And here are all the Historic Aiken homes for sale. Contact us for more information.