Originally created 08/16/97

Ride '97 looking for local support



AIKEN - Organizers of a new equine event to be held next month in Aiken appealed Friday for the public's support.

Coordinators of Ride '97, a charitable trail ride for all breeds of horses sponsored by Buick and GMC, say not even half of the 300 riders that they were expecting to participate have registered for the event scheduled for Sept. 20.

The purpose of the ride is to provide equine enthusiasts a chance to participate in a scenic trail ride.

"We really do need Aiken's support," said Deborah Easter, secretary of the South Carolina Quarter Horse Association. "It's an opportunity for equestrians to get together and support charitable organizations that the equestrian community has a direct influence on. We'd like for people to sign up in advance."

Camden is lobbying to hold the trail ride next year, she said.

"If this doesn't go well (in Aiken), the possibility could be Camden," she said.

The event is expected to help raise nearly $750,000 to benefit horse industry causes.

Proceeds will benefit research to promote equine health, therapeutic riding through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, programs of the American Quarter Horse Association, Hitchcock Woods, the Aiken Heart Association and Specialized Therapeutic and Recreational Riding and Driving Inc., which provides equine experiences for people with disabilities.

The event is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. with a pre-ride meeting followed by a morning loop in Hitchcock Woods.

Hitchcock Woods is a 2,000-acre woodland preserve in the center of Aiken known as the largest urban forest in the country. Trails weave through the woods for horseback riding, carriage riding and walking.

Following the morning loop, all riders will meet at a base camp for a light lunch followed by an afternoon loop. A catered dinner will be scheduled after that and then evening entertainment. Awards and prizes will be presented before the entertainment.

Costs are $90 per adult riding horses; $60 per adult non-riders; $40 for children riding horses; $80 per adult for families riding horses; and free for children 8 and under not riding horses.

Reservations may be made by calling toll free (888) 414-7433. For local information, call (803) 642-0664.