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  • Writer's pictureKendra DeKay

Spring Horse Events: The Aiken Horse Show

The historic Aiken Horse Show (sometimes also referred to as "The Horse Show in the Woods" has been held in the grass arena in Hitchcock Woods since 1916, and is one of Aiken's most cherished traditional equestrian events. The ring is beautifully decorated for the show, tents are set up for the catered spectator's lunch (tickets required), and it's a very lovely affair. It's held over three days, generally the first Friday - Sunday of April. Check for this year's schedule.

How to Watch The Aiken Horse Show

"Spectators are invited to view the lovely show grounds, setting and competition for FREE over the course of the entire weekend. The show is FREE to those who hike in via any of the Woods seven main entrances (Hiking in is not encouraged via the South Boundary entrance due to vehicular traffic). Driving into the Woods is permitted for the show and entails a donation for trail maintenance of $10 per car/day or $25 for all 3 days. Passes for all 3 days can be purchased at the entrance gate or in the office March 27-29, 2023. Spectators may bring their own picnic, purchase lunch from the concession stand or purchase a ticket (reservation required) for a catered lunch under the big tent - and view the lovely showgrounds, setting and competition each day.”


Show Schedule

The Aiken Horse Show is held over three days, generally the first Friday - Sunday of April. Here's the schedule from the 2023 show for an example of how the three days are usually set up. Classes start at 8:30 a.m. and the show day usually ends around 4 PM (depending on the number of competitors entered). Check for up-to-date info on this year's schedule.


"Opening Day, Friday, attracts some of the most polished performances of the weekend. The day starts with the $750 Aiken Hounds Welcome Stakes and ends with the $1,000 Aiken Horse Show Open Handy Hunter Stakes. During the day, the Open Hunter and Amateur divisions bring in accomplished competitors from around the region. Because there are only eight classes on this day, expect the action to be over rather early in the afternoon.


Saturday is family Day. First up is the Children’s Walk Trot division open to children 12 and under. Next comes the Walk-Trot- Canter, followed by Open Pleasure, Pairs, and then two divisions for young horses. Leadline, featuring the smallest and youngest children begins around noon. The ever-popular Costume Class comes soon afterward: there is always something inventive and interesting to see here. Saturday is also the day for Family Class, a Therapeutic Riding class and the Junior Hunter division. The most prestigious class of the day is the last one, the $500 Aiken Horse Show Junior Handy Stakes.


Sunday is Foxhunter day, tailored to active Foxhunting riders and their horses. For many of the exhibitors on Sunday, their sport is riding to hounds rather than showing, and this may be the only time all year they enter a show ring. This day also includes popular classes such as the Gentleman’s Hunter Under Saddle Challenge and the $250 Aiken Driving Club Silver Fox Challenge, for senior riders. Don’t miss the sidesaddle division Sunday afternoon: Aiken has an active population of sidesaddle riders, and their division includes a formal under saddle class, as well as an over fences class.

The Foxhunter Division, also on Sunday afternoon, is possibly the most hotly contested of the show. This division is open to horses and riders that have hunted at least three times together during the season. Not only does this division offer attractive prize money, it also has a special distinction. Everyone is always eager to see who will be crowned Foxhunter Champion, earning the right to be featured on the cover of next year’s Aiken Horse Show program.”

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