You know the type—the child who trots instead of walks. Who never runs, but gallops. Who pretends her string beans are hay. Who plays for hours with plastic toy horses but has no idea what to do with dolls or action figures. That’s right: the horse-obsessed child.
Lucky for you, South Carolina is full of amazing equine experiences for kids and adults alike. Here's how to indulge your horse-loving child.
South Carolina has both majestic mountains and an astonishing sea shore, deep and ancient forests, and languid marshes. For older kids, the chance to ride a horse in some of the most beautiful places in the US is a dream come true. The range of places you can ride is amazing, from the long empty beaches to the waterfalls of the Upstate. Check out our roundup of some of the best and most unique places to ride while visiting South Carolina.
Of course, not all horse-obsessed kids are old enough to go on an amazing trail ride. (The minimum age for some is 10-12.) But never fear. South Carolina is lucky to have lots of places sure to delight even the youngest of the horsey set.
Meet a Marsh Tacky
No, no, we don’t mean a sticky swamp. Marsh Tackies are South Carolina’s state heritage horses. These small, durable, good-natured and sure-footed horses are descendants of the horses first brought to the South Carolina coast by Spanish explorers. They were uniquely bred to be good workers in the difficult, muddy, swampy land of the Lowcountry. Now a very rare breed with fewer than 400 in existence, seeing a Marsh Tacky is a real treat for horse lovers of all ages.
The Coastal Discovery Museum of Hilton Head Island has Marsh Tackies living in its historic barn and grazing on the property. They are the museum’s most popular “exhibit!” And once you’ve had your fill of these unusual and lovely horses, make sure you and your children explore all the other amazing exhibits and programs of the museum.
Take a Carriage Ride in Charleston
The horse-drawn carriages of Charleston can’t be missed. They fan out and spread across the historic peninsula. And a ride in one of these carriages is great for families in so many ways. You’ll get to see so much of beautiful Charleston from the comfort of a padded seat, while history buffs learn a million esoteric facts and tiny tidbits about Charleston’s rich and surprising history.
But for horse-obsessed kids, it’s all about the massive creatures pulling the carriage. Ask for a seat up front, and your little ones can watch the driver guide the horse as it negotiates the cobblestone streets. Many of the stables will let you pet the horses, too, if you get there early. Palmetto Carriage Works has a really neat big red barn that’s open to the public to visit the horses.
Be Swept Away to Medieval Times
Quite possibly one of the most fun ways to eat dinner you’ve ever experienced, Medieval Times in Myrtle Beach is an amazing horse show, an exciting sporting event and a delicious dinner, all in one. At this dinner show, tiers of tables and seats ring the arena, so everyone has a great view. As you're seated for the evening, each family will be assigned to cheer for one particular knight. This is when the fun begins. You cheer your head off and stamp your feet as your knight competes in jousts and other horsey contests. Slowly, knights and their charging horses are eliminated until just two remain.
The horses in the show are just amazing, galloping full speed just a few feet from you, or showing off in incredible and hard-to-believe jumps and choreographed exercises. While you won’t be swept back in time, you will be swept up in the fun!