Cool wire horse sculpture in the Aiken Brewing Co.
One thing I do no matter where I go, no matter if it is for work or for horses, is check out the area I'm in. You never know what you will find. This is how I know where I want to live, and where I don't. Or, more accurately, where I want to be stationed, and where I don't. For example, as soon as I find out I'm going on a work trip I start Googling everything horse related I can find in the area and spying on things on Google Earth. I know what and where everything is before I ever get into the area. Aiken I have already done this for a few years ago though when putting together my list of bases I'd like to get orders to.
Since I had a couple days in Aiken, of course it was mandatory to drive around a check out the equestrian developments. The favorite turned out to be a place called Three Runs Plantation, here is their website if you'd like to check it out further: http://www.threerunsplantation.com/ . It has two beautifully footed jumping rings and dressage rings with mirrors. There is a small cross country course in the middle of the neighborhood and 30 miles of bridle trails that are groomed regularly with cross country jumps along them around the perimeter of the development.
I immediately fell in love with this place and it's pretty affordable with lots from 5-20 acres from $90,000-160,000, and homes that are built and go up for sale range from $300,000 to $1 million. You can use your own builder, the house/barn just have to be pre-approved by Three Runs prior to breaking ground. That's fair, that is them making sure their nice development doesn't turn into a trailer park.
Here are some of the houses:
The barns generally match the houses.
Stalls connected to the house.
Beautiful house that had a matching barn in the back.
Stalls between the house and the garage. This one had runs at the back of the stalls that also went into connected pastures.
My favorite. Absolutely beautiful house/barn under construction. This had a GORGEOUS living area above the barn with a huge porch with glass french doors that opened into a great room.
Here are a couple others that were in another development:
Kevin Keane's winter home.
A beautiful little house that had a matching barn in the back.
While Three Runs is beyond amazing, it is governed by an HOA, which is to be expected. That would limit a lot of things you can do. While HOAs do pay for a lot of amenities and prevent people from turning their front/backyard into a junkyard, they do limit some of your activities. So, I mainly was checking out the houses for ideas of what we will build on our forever farm. We have recently very seriously started talking about purchasing land for our forever farm. After a couple years of talking about it, we have decided the only way we will have our forever farm exactly the way we want it is to build. Our main problem was deciding where we want to end up after the military. We are 99% settled on that, finally, and will be taking some trips to look at land later this year.
So, thanks Aiken for some more great ideas!