Tryon, Aiken, Southern Pines, other?

Hi all, I know there have been topics on this in the past (I have searched and read them!) but it seems like it’s been a few years.

My husband and I are ready to move somewhere with a whole lot less winter than Maine. We are not wealthy and not near retirement, so cost of living and job markets need to be considered. I am a nurse, and he is in the heating/cooling industry.

I’m a rider, jumpers/eventing/trail riding are my interests. Emphasis on jumpers over eventing, if I have to choose one over the other. I want to be somewhere with access to good instruction, decent schooling shows and rated shows, and likeminded people (sporthorse people). His interests are boxing/MMA and riding his motorcycle. We both enjoy hiking. We want to stay on the east coast.

The plan would be to sell our 20-acre farm in Maine and buy land/build something of similar size in the new location, keep my 4 horses at home, haul in somewhere for weekly lessons. I would LOVE trail access from the property, or if not from the property, at least within a 20-minute drive.

When he was in the military and stationed at Ft. Bragg, we lived in Raeford, so we know that area a bit, but don’t want to limit our options by just going back to what we know. We’re also looking into the Tryon and Aiken areas, but are there any other areas we should look into? Pros/cons of each place? We’re familiar with the towns surrounding Southern Pines, but what towns surrounding Tryon and Aiken should we consider/not consider? Any other insights/opinions/tips?

If you pose this question on the North Carolina and Dressage Training Facebook page, you will probably get a lot of replies. What line of business/work are you in? There is golf and horses around Aiken and Southern Pines, but it is is bit of a drive to a bigger city with more business opportunities. Tryon used to be the middle of nowhere, but has become the horse Mecca recently. It is still about an hour + to either Asheville or Greenville, SC. Coming East from Tryon, land may be cheaper, but there is not a whole lot going on between there and Gaston County.

I think “tryon” could be a good fit but I’d recommend looking a good bit further south like campobello, Inman, or Welford. True tryon land prices are really steep and you’re upwards of a hour from greenville proper. Going south cuts out a solid 20 minutes, which adds up for a daily commute and would be close to options like Waldrop or Seal Air. It’s also horse friendly with amenities relatively close.

When most people say Tryon, they really mean up toward Columbus and mill springs. That’s true horse country but it’s also bum diddly nowhere outside of horses in terms of most industries.

I lived in Landrum, just a few miles from Tryon. Dead boring if you’re into anything other than horses.

Thank you, this is exactly the kind of info I am looking for. I will check out the areas you mentioned!

I’m a nurse, and he does HVAC.

Not sure how much winter you get in Maine but the panhandle of WV might check all your boxes. The winter is mildish, way better than Maine, so far only a couple of small snows in Jan/Feb. We have all 4 seasons and close enough to Loudoun County to enjoy all the amenities of good trainers/vets/etc. The area is more conservative the farther you go west, but people are super friendly and very helpful. The land/property is still reasonable for the moment, but rising quickly from DC metro sprawl.

You will have no issues finding work as a nurse or in HVAC in the area.

There is a couple local race tracks, motorcycle clubs and a few boxing clubs, you would need to go to Loudoun for a good MMA club. Lots of hiking and out door activities in the area.

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I live in Aiken county and I would say the same thing about Aiken. But others might disagree.

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Boring is okay with us. We live in a town that has a population density of 56 people per square mile, and if it wasn’t for the 8 months of winter and the complete lack of horse shows etc, we would probably stay here forever.

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I’ll check it out, thank you!

Aiken people, I’ve found the horse park/Bruce’s field website, which looks great. Are there any other venues which have jumper shows (rated or schooling) within a 2-3 hour drive?

I also found the Hitchcock Woods site, which looks pretty similar to the Moss foundation in Southern Pines. Are there any other trail riding places near Aiken?

Thanks everyone for all the info so far!


Yes, there are lots of other places to ride in Aiken. There are deeded conservation areas around some developments with small farms. (We’ve ridden in them during our trips to Aiken, I just can’t remember the names.) Also, Whiskey Road Fox Hounds has territory outside Aiken. There’s a lot of big name eventers who winter in Aiken, so great availability for clinics and lessons, and also a couple of REALLY nice eventing facilities (Stableview, Full Gallop) that host events all winter long.

I will also say that I stopped and visited someone in Southern Pines this trip, and it looked beautiful. The Walther Moss Foundation in SP is actually much larger than the Hitchcock Woods. I’ve never ridden it, so I don’t know if it’s as delightfully set up with little schooling areas. In both towns, finding a property next to the foundations would be ideal but expensive.

I have an aquaintence who looked at all the same areas and settled in Tryon. I will try to remember to ask her what informed her decision.

PS - the reason I am not planning my retirement there is that for me, currently in a temperate climate, horsekeeping there is very expensive, because the grass that does grow in the pastures is not sufficient for forage, and all hay has to be shipped in, most from out of state. You’re probably feeding hay 9 months of the year where you are so maybe that’s not a concern; but the price of hay in these areas made me clutch my figurative pearls.

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As for Aiken, besides Bruce’s Field, Highfields does h/j local thru rated shows and Stableview does schooling jumper shows regularly. There are always lots of shows in Aiken throughout the year! If you want to go outside of Aiken, there is the SC Equine Park in Camden (1.5 hr from Aiken) which does h/j shows regularly. Going a little further out, Tryon is 2.5 hr away with several venues (TIEC, FENCE, Harmon Field), Mullet Hall in Charleston is a 2.5 hr drive, and Chatt Hills in GA is about 3 hr away.

I am not well versed in the trail riding in Aiken besides Hitchcock Woods, but there are several farms that let you do XC schooling for the day and several show venues have schooling day options during the week when there aren’t shows going on.

Another thing to note seeing that you are a nurse, I believe Augusta has a decently big hospital system there? That’s pretty close to Aiken, but Lexington/Columbia is about an hour away with several big hospital systems too if you’re willing to commute that distance.


There is a hospital in Aiken, but it’s small and IMO it’s not particularly good (my ex and I both had bad experiences in the Aiken hospital emergency room). The hospital system in Augusta is better. That’s where I would go if I needed a hospital. Even though the Aiken hospital is closer to where I live.

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The Tryon area is home to 200+ miles of membership trail systems, Harmon Field (schooling and rated shows), FENCE (schooling and rated shows) and Tryon International Equestrian Center (rated shows), a good number of barns that offer in-house schooling shows and/or clear round jumping days, three fox hunts, a large surgical equine clinic (and many other vet practices), dozens of farriers, feed stores, hay growers/dealers, just about every discipline (with up/down to top pro instruction/training), and a packed schedule of clinics, hunter paces, lectures, and community events revolving around the horse. You can drive for hours up and down the roads around here and continually pass horse farm after horse farm. The real estate market is HOT right now, so prices for the prettiest properties are at a premium, but there are lots of older places which are also being snapped up for better bargains and updated. We’re an hour south of Asheville, a half hour south of Hendersonville and 45 minutes northeast of Greenville… all along the I-26 or I-85 corridor. Spartanburg, SC, is 25 minutes south on 26. If you like small, Southern friendly and laid-back, this is your vibe. There’s no nightlife to speak of, but there’s a zillion miles of hiking trails among the Blue Ridge mountains. Towns to search on include: Tryon, NC … Columbus, NC … Landrum, SC … Campobello, SC … considered the “Foothills” and part of the Isothermal belt that’s responsible for our (mostly) comfortable weather. A little further out - Inman and Boiling Springs, SC … Forest City and Rutherfordton, NC and you get a little more heat in the summer. If you have specific questions, feel free to PM me. :slightly_smiling_face:


I LOVE Aiken. We literally show 2-3 times a month just in Aiken (from AA to C to schooling). You’ve got Highfields, Bruces Field, Stableview right in Aiken among others. Within 2 hours, I have Tryon & Atlanta. I can run to Cataloochee to ski in a day or to Charleston to the beach.

We’ve been here 4 years and I can’t say enough good things about it. I am never bored either - in fact my complaint is there are too many fun things to choose from around here.

If you’re a nurse, there are plenty of jobs in Augusta - much better medical facilities there than Aiken. And PLENTY of HVAC opps here - we’re in the midst of a real estate/building boom and not enough skilled contractors to go around.

I’m happy to answer any questions - people were incredibly kind to us when we moved here and I always believe in paying it forward. I’m in real estate as well as horses so happy to share some ideas or show you anything if you come to town.


@nycjumper, I just may have to take you up on that offer! We are planning a long weekend trip down to Aiken in a couple of weeks to scope things out!

Suggestions on where to stay, what to see, etc. are welcome!

Lots and lots of airBnB and VRBO options in Aiken, it’s a winter colony, lots of rentals available from tiny cottages to big houses.

What to see - you have to ride in the Hitchcock Woods. You have to.

Lunch or brunch at the Willcox is fun.

Cruise the tack shops, especially AikenTack Exchange for consignment stuff.

Go to the training track and watch the horses gallop, then have breakfast at the Track Kitchen.

Cruise down Boundary Avenue - it’s the iconic Aiken street with the live oak canopy over the road.

Shopping downtown is fun - lots of cute shops, and it’s not so big that it’s overwhelming.

Get a schedule of local horse events and check out something at Bruce’s Field or the other venues. You’ll see some big names bringing out their young horses.

Spectate at a hunt meet with Aiken Hounds, Whiskey Road Hounds or Sugarfoot Beagles.

Can you tell I’ve loved my visits to Aiken? :slight_smile:

I’ll shoot you a PM with my email/tel.
As far as what to do
For restaurants (if you’re comfortable eating inside)
Track Kitchen, La Parisienne, New Moon or the Willcox (brunch) for breakfast
Lunch faves include all the places on Laurens - What’s Cookin, Betsys and there’s a new sandwich shop that just opened
Dinner: Solovino, Malias, Tako Sushi, Whiskey Alley the Brewery, Grumpys, Locals & sit outside in the Alley one night and enjoy something from the Tap Room if you enjoy beer and eat
Aiken Saddlery, Oak Manor, and the Tack Exchange are all must stops. Dover is here as well.
Take a meander through Hitchcock Woods (GET A MAP AT THE ENTRANCE - it’s easy to get lost;) I’m always a fan of Hopeland Gardens. Take a walk in the horse district - we have dirt roads in the middle of town for the horses.
Must stop at Equine Divine and all the cute shops along Laurens if you’re doing some shopping.
We’re midst busy season horse show wise - no spectators allowed but happy to take you over to a show if you’re here during a weekend as we’ll be at all of them!

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