Laurens County Makes Good Horse Sense

Have you noticed the increase in trailers carrying horses up and down the interstate through Laurens County lately? Horseback riding is rising in popularity throughout the county, state, and nation and Laurens County is well-positioned to benefit economically from this growth with a little bit of foresight, planning, and good old horse sense. Many are aware of the Lander University Equestrian Center south of Laurens County. It’s located in Greenwood and offers academic, therapeutic, and recreational horseback riding opportunities for students and the general public. Situated on 37 acres, it’s a real asset to our area. Not far to the north of Laurens County, a bit farther away in Greenville County, is the Riverbend Equestrian Park. This 74-acre park was created in 1968 by the South Carolina General Assembly and is operated by the Greenville County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. It provides a range of services for horseback riders, mountain bikers, walkers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Both equestrian centers are widely known, even by those of us who do not own horses or know much about them, and both centers contribute to equestrian life in our area. The more recent increase in horse traffic, however, is due largely to a new facility underway about an hour’s drive north of Laurens County. The Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, NC, just off I-26 above Spartanburg, is open for business and is already becoming one of the nation’s premier equestrian centers, garnering international recognition. Launched in 2014 and still being developed, this 1,400 acre center will be opening its premier luxury resort hotel in 2017. Already, though, it has five horse rings, 500 permanent stalls, a 6,000-seat outdoor stadium with lights, and 500 additional stables. Presently, some 90,000 visitors are expected annually. Not surprisingly, most of them will come with horses. Why there? Because of the riding opportunities, and because of the availability of longer horse trails in the surrounding area. Horseback riders want and need longer trails to make moving their horses worth their while. How much is it worth? Recent news put the positive economic impact in Tryon at $185 million. Talk about good horse sense! Economic advantages could be reaped here, too, if we work together to create space and trails for horse enthusiasts to experience beautiful Laurens County. For example, the portion of Whitten Center property that has been under consideration for sale in Clinton has both ample natural resources and ease of accessibility to the interstate and the Sumter National Forest. What if the SC General Assembly and local leaders created an equestrian and outdoor recreation park for the people of SC here in Laurens County? Laurens County could easily become an attractive stop for folks and their horses, and for other outdoor enthusiasts, too, that otherwise would pass us by. The economic benefits would follow. By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about horses, contact the Laurens County Saddle Club and the South Carolina Horsemen’s Council. Consider also local equestrian businesses, like Black Horse Run, Kross Performance Horses, and TW Quarter Circle Ranch Ministries in Fountain Inn, as well as Palmetto Equestrian Therapeutic Riding Program in Clinton and Trinity Equestrian Center in Laurens. If you think horse trails are a good idea here, visit the Laurens County Trails Association’s website ( and let them hear from you. Simply put, friends, there’s plenty of good horse sense in Laurens County already, and we would be wise to find ways to provide more services for equestrians here. (In this column, “Nature’s Calling!,” Dr. Bob Bryant will be offering information and thoughts on a broad range of topics on the outdoors, especially for the people and communities of Laurens County.)

My Clinton News

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