Happy Trails!

April 2014
Written By: 
Paul Grimshaw

Local equestrian centers offer plenty of horsin' around

Travel magazines and brochures love to show photos of families and happy couples riding horses on the beach or along forested trails. There’s something both soothing and energizing about the image of these noble, powerful beasts and their riders clip-clopping in the sand and surf or meandering through a lovely glade, even if you’ve never saddled up in your life.

While most of the Grand Strand restricts horseback riding on the beach between mid-March and mid-September, there’s no lack of trail riding and equestrian opportunities year-round at some half-dozen horseback riding centers between Georgetown and Little River.

Wachesaw Equestrian Center, Murrells Inlet

Kathi Mills, owner of WEC, is a woman on the go. She re-opened the WEC, which at one time had been available only to Wachesaw Plantation residents as a part of its amenity package. Now open to the public, Mills and staff train, show and board horses, as well as teach professional level riding and jumping students and pleasure riders. “We have students as young as four and as old as 73,” said Mills, who moved to Murrells Inlet from Virginia three years ago to retire after nearly 30 years running a 100-horse equestrian center. “I discovered [you can’t retire]; horses are a lifelong thing,” she said.

WEC focuses on training for competition but offers plenty of pleasure riding packages as well. “I reopened [WEC] almost two years ago,” said Mills. “We have a small trail system on site, and the [arena], where we host birthday parties and family events. We offer a trail ride and Gymkhana games, but we also offer custom rides on the beach [in season] and trail rides at Hobcaw Barony. We offer riding lessons and show competition training, so most of our clientele are focused on that.”

For more information call (703) 282-8727).

Wampee Stables, North Myrtle Beach

On the north end of the strand, Wampee Stables is owned and operated by Richard and Debbie Parker on a farm that’s been in the family for more than a century. Offering trail rides, pleasure riding lessons, and even overnight summer camps, Wampee Stables is located out in the country between Little River and Longs on S.C. 57.

An average trail ride ($65) is 1.5 hours and includes instruction, treks through quiet tracts of forest and along open meadows, and is suitable for young and old. At the end of the trip, photos will be emailed to each member of the party at no additional charge. “You might see some wildlife, rabbits, deer, turkey and birds,” said Richard Parker. “It’s so relaxing. This is a nature trail ride, and depending on what season you’re riding in, different plants are in bloom. It’s beautiful.”

And the rides are for all abilities? “We go to the ring before we ever hit the trail,” said Parker. “The instructors know the horses and are so good with getting everyone comfortable. There’s a platform to get on the horses, so there’s no climbing. We offer a great trail ride.”

For more information and to make reservations, call (843) 399-1489.

An internet search will yield plenty of equestrian outfits in the area offering every level of instruction from beginner to advanced. Even if you’ve only admired horses from a distance, follow your horse sense to a Grand Strand backcountry adventure.


Photograph courtesy of Natalie Kimbrall Photography