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Riding in the Lowcountry and beyond – pristine places and wide open spaces for equestrians

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The Lowcountry landscape is renowned for its beaches and golf courses. Downtown Charleston is a history buff’s dream. The variety of world-class cuisine and accommodations are just a couple of the reasons why our fair city is dubbed “the best” in one way or another year after year.

Why not add wide open spaces that accommodate a plethora of equestrian activities to the mix? The demand for equestrian-type properties is growing in the Lowcountry.

Earlier this year, the Post and Courier purchased the Steeplechase of Charleston. The Lowcountry event is one that is a proud tradition and this year’s event, presented by Baker Motor Company, is held at The Plantation at Stono Ferry in Hollywood. The event has been hosted at this location since 1986. Steeplechase of Charleston is for horse-racing fans -- with five high-stakes races – as well as family friendly events between each race.

The Plantation at Stono Ferry is known for its classic Charleston-style homes and offers a variety of real estate options. A mixture of established homes, new construction and town homes are here and the neighborhood borders Long Bridge Creek and the Stono River. The equestrian center has 22 stables and 25 acres of pastures. The Links at Stono Ferry is the semi-private golf club and residents enjoy golf, marsh, deep water and equestrian views. Homes range from $200,000 to over $2 million.

Saddle up spots

“There is a hidden equestrian gem on Edisto Island,” said Huger Sinkler of Holcombe, Fair & Lane. “Brookland Plantation has one of the finer equestrian facilities you will find in Charleston County.”

Sinkler lists the historical 18th century plantation for $3.6 million. Located at 2328 Laurel Hill Road, it sits on 60 acres with frontage on Shingle Creek. The 1803 Greek revival style main house has been beautifully restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The land, located within the ecological preserve of the ACE Basin, is permanently protected through a conservation easement with the Lowcountry Open Land Trust.

“Outdoor features include an eight-acre polo field with a professional irrigation system. The field can easily be converted to other equestrian uses including a dressage arena, jumping area or conversion to paddocks. There are five paddocks and one large turnout pasture,” he said.

Catherine Cobb of Live Water Properties agrees that the ACE Basin is a “gem region.”

“Fox hunting and trail riding on unique plantations in these areas swath over 350,000 acres,” she said. “Walterboro, Hendersonville and further south into Bluffton and the lower southeastern part of South Carolina – Pritchardville, Sheldon, Beaufort and Okatie – have been largely developed, though there are a few areas that have maintained their charm of a bygone era,” Cobb said.

Cobb said that Hawkeye Farm in Pinckney Colony just outside of Bluffton was only on the market for a short time. A five-bedroom home with 13.25 acres listed at $1.195 million. The property had a four-stable barn and fenced paddocks.

“Communities in Bluffton such as Spring Island, Bray’s Island, Oldfield, Palmetto Bluff and Rose Hill offer equestrian amenities,” she said.

Johns Island has the Mullett Hall Equestrian Center at the Johns Island County Park with over 700 acres and it serves as the spot for numerous competitive horse shows, festivals and events. There are two 98-stall barns, show rings and 40 acres of open fields. Equestrians can enjoy 20 miles of trails that wind through lush Lowcountry landscapes.

The Brickhouse Equestrian Center on Johns Island is a 40-plus acre boarding and lesson facility. It offers arenas and large fields for jumping and riding. Another 300-acre horse farm on Johns Island is the Stono River Stable. Just seven miles from downtown Charleston, it has a 14 stall main barn, six paddocks and pastures galore for riding.

Sinkler lists a $3.475 million dollar estate on 5827 Grimshaw Road on Johns Island that has 66 acres and has three acres of fenced horse pasture and a four-stall barn.

“Most farms are found on Johns Island, Wadmalaw, Awendaw as well as out towards the Meggett and Ravenel areas,” said Terry Seignious of Akers Ellis Real Estate. “There’s a growing population of these types of properties in Ridgeville and Summerville.”

Seignious said the need for these kinds of properties is in demand as amateur riders and owners move to the area. “I probably have at least one horse owner call me each week asking about horse properties,” she said. “There is a huge demand for smaller or home based farms and most boarding barns in our area are completely full with waiting lists.”

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Seignious lists an equestrian property on Wadmalaw Island at 6080 Josie Road. The estate-like home can be purchased as a farm. With views of the Wadmalaw Sound, the private estate sits on five acres within Martins Point Plantation, a private 900 acre community.

Horses, horses, horses

Seabrook Island has a full-service equestrian center on 22 acres. The island is one of the few areas along the east coast where one can ride horses on the beach. Riding along the shore or along the many trails with marsh views is an equestrian’s idea of paradise.

“Seabrook Island is the largest of Charleston equestrian communities,” said Michael Asnip, Broker in Charge of Seabrook Island Real Estate. “Seabrook Village backs up to the equestrian center, though these homes and homesites are smaller lot sizes than most properties on Seabrook.”

Seabrook Island is home of the first Audubon International Green Community in the state. The residents are dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural resources so it’s no surprise why the area is a draw for outdoor activities such as horseback riding.

“Residents and guests can explore the island by horseback riding such as a three-mile ride through woods, marshes and tidal creeks,” said Asnip. “There’s something for every level – a walking beach ride lets riders see dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles and other wildlife. For advanced equestrians, there’s a beach ride where one can walk, trot and canter on the North Beach.”

Homesites on Seabrook range from a third of an acre to over one acre Asnip said, with average home sizes around 3,000 square feet. “There are homes, villas and lots in this private island community and more than 2,500 property owners from all over the world.”

Over 700 families make Seabrook Island home year-round and homes are individually owned. “With no developers, you shape the island’s future with fellow residents. The island consists of about 1,000 homes, 1,100 villas and 500 lots. Buyers can also design their own private sanctuary from the ground up,” said Asnip.

“The full service equestrian center on Seabrook Island caters to all skill levels and offers premier short and long-term boarding,” Asnip said. “The center is the only amenity open to the public. You can bring your horse with you whether you choose to live here full or part time.”

Asnip lists a four-bedroom home that is across the street from Seabrook’s equestrian center at 2259 Seabrook Island Road that sits on .28 acres.

Around the bend

Some South Carolinian equestrians ride toward more mountainous territories. About five hours away near the Nantahala National Forest is Balsam Mountain Preserve. Many South Carolina equine lovers have second homes in North Carolina.

The master planned community in Sylvan, North Carolina has expansive trails and acreage -- 3,200 acres is in a dedicated conservation easement. There’s also dedicated equestrian homesites that allow owners to build their own facilities, as well as an equestrian facility. Some sites are surrounded by as much as 100 acres of preserved wilderness.

“Balsam is an easy haul for Charlestonians,” said Joe Dellinger, COO of Balsam Mountain Preserve. “It gives one an elevated perspective and one that can only happen when venturing out on horseback on miles of trails. For the traveling equestrian, it offers a state-of-the-art barn facility, all weather paddocks and a full-time, on-site equestrian manager.”

From the beaches to the mountains, Lowcountry equestrians have a wide range of choices to giddy-up and get away from it all.

Reach Brigitte Surette at bsurette@postandcourier.com.

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