The Carolinas Equestrian Fall 2022

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Call Blake Boyd: 803-513-4037

EST 1898 Aiken, SC

From the whispering pines of America’s storied thoroughbred country... the shores of Lake Toxaway nestled deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

EST 1916 Lake Toxaway, NC

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803.998.0198 team Cissie sullivan & TraCey Turner SULLIVAN TURNER TEAM Meybohm’s #1 Team in South Carolina 2020 & 2021 Leader in Luxury Sales idylliC 24 aCre Farm in aiken, sC Horse CounTry
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Fall 2022 Volume 8, Issue 3


Lauren Allen

Publisher Pam Gleason

Layout & Design Larchwood Productions


Lauren Allen

Pam Gleason

Nancy Johnson Gary Knoll

Jennifer Murphy


Lauren Allen 803-240-1275 Pam Gleason 803-643-9960 Ashley Haffey 607-743-1309

General Inquiries

Lauren Allen 803-240-1275


Will Coleman on Cold Red Rum compete in the FEI *** at Stable View

Photography by Pam Gleason

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From the Editor

We are so excited to share our fantastic Fall issue. This is a magical time of the year: horses and riders alike are invigorated by the breeze blowing in cooler weather and prompting the colorful sprinkle of autumn leaves. It’s pumpkin spice season, plus all the equestrians from up north are migrating down South!

The Aiken scene is intense, and Stable View is at the center of it all with world class sport offerings in dressage, hunter/jumper and eventing. Pam Gleason takes a moment to explore all that has been accomplished in just 10 short years at this exceptional facility that continues to grow and improve.

Of course, if you’re going to be in Aiken, you’ll want to check out The Willcox. The historic inn has seen a lot over the course of its life, and delicious food, beautiful rooms, and a great drink menu continue to keep The Willcox at the center of a swirling equestrian scene.

Dr. Susan Fay and Celeste-Leilani Lazaris are both gaining an international following for their unconventional methods and profound results, and their clinics left participants “Reimagining Horsemanship.” Read about it on page 36. Don't miss our practical advice column featuring Jennifer and Kevin Murphy of National Bloodstock Transportation and their trailering tips and tricks of the trade. And in “Out and About” we sample photos from events all over the region, including a Combined Driving Event in Tryon, a PSJ show at FENCE, and a gaited show in Camden.

Our Equestrian of the Carolinas is Jim Rhodes who runs one of the most successful equine rescues in the Southeast and who proves that no matter how many years you spend with horses, there is always something more to learn. And our Under 21 spotlights a devoted 9-year-old dressage rider from Southern Pines named Holland Bird.

Finally, we feel lucky to have caught up with the equestrian sculptor Morgen Kilbourn in an article by Nancy Johnson. Kilbourn’s work somehow manages to capture all of the movement and power of the equine form in inanimate figures – in addition to her fine art work, she has also created some of the perennially beloved Breyer horses.

We hope you love these stories and pictures. Please reach out to us through our website at or on Facebook or Instagram and tell us about people we need to talk to, events we need to cover, or places we need to go see.

Ten Years at Stable View

A Natural Destination

Ten short years ago, Stable View held its first competition. At that time, it was not much more than a spacious farm and an ambitious concept. The owners, Barry and Cyndy Olliff, had not originally set out to create a world class equestrian facility in Aiken, South Carolina. But when they purchased the property that once housed the stable and kennels for Sage Valley Country Club, they knew they had something they wanted to share. Today, Stable View is an equestrian venue and much more, and it is attracting accomplished horsemen from all corners while also celebrating the environment and bringing the community together.

British Olympic gold medalist Leslie Law (Ocala, Fla.) aboard Voltaire de Tre, Oktoberfest FEI 4*, 2022 Amanda Flint and Irvington VDL competing in the Grand Prix at the Stable View Fall Finale, November 2022.

When Barry and Cyndy Olliff started farm shopping in Aiken back in 2010, their goal was to find a comfortable winter home. They wanted a base of operations from which Cyndy could go foxhunting, and she and a partner could continue a small business they ran retraining racehorses and selling them as eventing prospects. The parcel that would become Stable View was the first place they considered, and the last – in between they visited dozens of other farms for sale during six separate trips from their home in Pennsylvania.

In a 2014 interview, Cyndy remembered her reaction when she first saw the property: “I was so taken by the place, when I got out of the car, I was literally running down to look at the paddocks,” she said.

“It was more than we wanted,” said Barry in an interview this summer, remarking that they had originally planned a retirement on the Chesapeake Bay. “It was 160 acres with a beautiful barn, and there were kennels on the property and houses.” Even though they had some reservations, there was something that kept drawing them back, and finally they made a commitment.

Over the next few years, they spent time talking to experts in the equestrian world and allowing the property itself to dictate what it should become. Kim Severson, who won an individual Olympic silver medal in eventing at the Athens Olympics, introduced them to Captain Mark Phillips, who was then the chef d’equipe for the United States Eventing team.

Captain Phillips came to Stable View and agreed that the property was special. With its rolling hills, good soil and attractive vistas, it could be an ideal eventing facility.

“He told us we could really do something with it,” said Barry. “And that was the tipping point.”

At that time, they already had some cross country-style jumps on the property. Now they hired Captain Phillips to design a fullfledged competition cross country course. In 2013, almost ten years ago, they held their first schooling shows. The following year, in 2014, they put on their first recognized USEF event, the inaugural Oktoberfest Horse Trials with divisions up to Preliminary.

Meanwhile, they continued to make improvements on the property. They constructed a large covered arena for schooling, and a

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Stable View in 2015: a world class facility in the making.

complex of outdoor arenas with all-weather professional footing for dressage and show jumping. They converted the kennels to apartments, and added more living areas for people coming from far away. The original property was surrounded by 2,000 acres of conservation land. Over the next years, they bought additional pieces of this land, bringing Stable View’s total size to 1,000 acres.

In addition to the traditional facilities for horses and riders, they also built places for spectators and for other people who want a beautiful place to convene. The centerpiece of this is the LEED (Gold) certified pavilion that overlooks the main cross country course on one side and the original jumping and dressage arenas on the other. LEED (Gold) certification signifies that the structure was created using the highest green building standard, and is emblematic of Stable View’s commitment to the environment. Other amenities include a comfortable and elegant riders’ lounge located near the FEI stabling, which is stocked with snacks, coffee and other refreshments, all complimentary to competitors.

It has become a cliché to say “if you build it, they will come,” but this is exactly what happened

at Stable View. Initially, the facility attracted professional trainers who came down from the MidAtlantic for the colder months. By the winter of 2013, the farm had already been designated an official winter training site for the USEF, holding schooling sessions for horses and riders being considered for international eventing teams. The Olympian Boyd Martin soon made it his winter training base, becoming not just a boarder but also a trusted advisor.

Expansion continued on the cross country course, and Stable View held Aiken’s first Advanced Level horse trial there in 2016, and the first FEI one-through-three-star a few years later. Today Stable View has five USEF recognized horse trials a year, including two that go up to the FEI four-star level, and they hope to add a sixth very soon. Today, seeing Olympic riders of various nationalities at Stable View has become quite commonplace.

Stable View also caters to lower level eventers, as well as dressage riders, hunter/jumper riders, trail riders and more. For instance, the Eventing Academy series has its own smaller cross country course geared to novice horses and riders. These weekend events include a schooling day followed by a competition day over the same courses.

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Dressage shows at Stable View are very popular and usually have at least two rings running.

Dressage shows appeared on the calendar in 2018. Cyndy Olliff, who organizes these shows, strives to hire a variety of different judges for each event so that riders are not always showing under the same eyes. Hunter/Jumper shows are the most recent addition to the event roster and have slowly gained a following over the past three years. One thing that many riders appreciate is that, in addition to everything else that the facility offers, Stable View also awards generous prize money, even at lower level competitions. Additionally, to keep riders coming back, Stable View has instituted a number of loyalty programs to reward those who attend multiple events.

Equestrian activities may be the centerpiece and the inspiration for all the developments at Stable View, but there are other components to the facility as well. It is a wedding venue and a place for corporate retreats and family reunions. It is a nature preserve, with marked wildlife and bird watching trails, along with active programs that provide nesting boxes for bluebirds, screech owls and kestrels. There is an apiarist who has set up hives and has been harvesting Stable View Honey (you can buy it in Ollie’s Inn on the ground floor of the pavilion.) The Olliffs have enlisted a wildlife biologist in a successful

effort to restore the long leaf pine habitat for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, which now have colonized the forests. There are plans to create habitat for Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds as well.

A few years ago, Barry, who is 77, retired from running his financial company up North and he and Cyndy moved to their Stable View home full time. Managing such a large, active and multifaceted facility may not have been the retirement that the Olliffs had envisioned, but it seems they wouldn’t have it another way.

“I love it,” said Barry with a laugh. “The really interesting thing is the way it has taken over our lives . . . I’m a guy who is not going to sit and watch the History Channel. I want to do things; I want to be productive. If I can do this until I am 85, I would be very pleased.”

Over the past 10 years, Stable View has taken on a life of its own, becoming a valued part of the horse world in Aiken and throughout the region. The Olliffs originally saw it as a “gathering place,” where members of the community could come together for sport and for camaraderie. Today it is that and more: a true destination for horsemen and nature lovers alike, with a future that looks exceptionally bright.

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Laura Gaither Ulrich and FVF Nebraska, Grand Prix at the Stable View Fall Finale
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Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 15 Exclusive Clothing, Gifts and Sporting Art 126 Laurens Street SW Aiken, SC 29801 803.642.9772

In Practice

Ready for the Road: Hauling Horses

Whether you’re trailering down the street or across the state, being prepared and patient are vital when hauling. Here are a few things to consider when planning for any trip with horses.


Being over prepared will always be better than being on the side of the road without the correct equipment, functioning cell service, or help. Before you go:

1. Thoroughly check your tires. Check them prior to your trip, every time you stop for fuel or a break, and when you’re at your destination. The depth of tire tread is measured in 32nds of an inch. New trailer tires will have tread that is 10 or 11 32nds deep. When the tread gets down to 2/32”, it is time to replace your tires. Scan for nails, screws, splits, wear marks, bulging, or signs of wires. Air pressure is another consideration. Check your tire pressure and make sure that all your tires are properly inflated. While you’re down there, make sure the valve stems aren’t loose or leaking air.

2. Lights / Wiring Harness. Check to make sure that all of your lights work when you hook up to your trailer. Make sure there aren’t any exposed, frayed, or loose wires. Ideally you want to check your lights a day or two before your trip so that if any wires or bulbs need to be replaced, you have ample time to do so.

3. Emergency Kit for your Truck / Trailer. Your emergency kit should have three reflective safety triangles, a map, spare fuses, an LED Flashlight, a tire ramp or car jack, wheel chocks or wedges, a portable tire inflator, a fully-charged fire extinguisher, a tire pressure gauge, a spare trailer tire and truck tire with rim, and a fully charged cordless impact, lug, or torque wrench with sockets to fit both your trailer and truck lug nuts. If you don’t have a cordless wrench, the manual tire irons are a bit labor intensive, but a better option than nothing at all.

4. Tell someone your route. It’s ideal to have someone with you during your travel, but if that’s not possible, tell someone where you’re going, what roads you plan to take, and your approximate departure and arrival times. Life360 is a wonderful and free app to use on your phone that allows you to share your location live with a friend or family member. Google Maps has a similar feature. If you are traveling in the mountains, be aware of the emergency ramp locations in the event your brakes fail.


The more familiar you and your horse are with loading, unloading and hauling, the better your chances are for a successful trip.

1. Practice hooking up, driving, and backing an empty trailer. This takes time, patience and confidence. Start out in an open parking lot, then move to a quiet neighborhood, then a not-so-busy road, then a highway,

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The penny test: Insert a penny into your trailer tire tread. If the top of Lincoln's head does not disappear, your tread is less than 2/32" and you need new tires.

and eventually a busy highway or interstate. Once you feel comfortable with driving, start practicing backing up.

2. Practice loading and take short trips. If your horse is an easy loader, half of your battle is already won! Consider yourself lucky. For those who aren’t so lucky, work with getting your horse familiar with the trailer, step up or ramp, and standing quietly in the trailer. There are multiple training methods out there, but if your horse is food motivated, try feeding your horse in the trailer multiple times without traveling anywhere. Once you feel comfortable loading and your horse is quiet, take short 1520 minute trips.

3. Practice putting your horse on the trailer with sheets/blankets and shipping boots/ wraps. The time to put shipping boots or standing wraps on your horse for the first time is not when you’re trying to load the day of an event or for an emergency. This is a common mistake that we come upon while hauling for clients. Clients want their horses to be safe from scratches, kicks, and rubs, so they place brand new shipping boots or standing wraps on about 15 minutes before we arrive, elevating the horse’s stress level. If you plan to use a

bumper for the horse’s head, a padded halter, shipping boots or standing wraps, bell boots, and a travel sheet or blanket, make sure your horse is familiar and comfortable with these items beforehand.

Tips and Tricks

We’ve been blessed to learn a lot of tips and tricks along the way of hauling. Here are a few things to consider.

1. Water. When we take breaks, we offer fresh water to each horse. We take 5-gallon buckets filled with water that the horses are already familiar with. We pour a gallon or so into another bucket and offer it to the horse. If the horse doesn’t drink, we don’t panic. Most horses don’t drink that much while hauling. Just keep an eye on them and offer plenty of water at your destination. For longer hauls consider bringing powdered Gatorade or molasses to mix in their water: this can entice them to drink.

2. Breaks. We typically stop every three hours to give the horses a break. During this break, which is about 20 minutes, we offer water, refill hay nets and check the horses’ overall comfort level.

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3. Overnight Layovers. If you plan to stop for the night, websites such as can help you find a place for the horses to rest. The average nightly fee ranges between $25-50 per horse. Some even offer electric and water hook ups for additional fees. If your horses are traveling in box stalls and you choose to keep them on the trailer overnight, be sure they have ample water and hay. We also like to tidy up their stall area regularly. We travel with muck buckets and fill these throughout the haul. Some facilities don’t want you dumping the dirty bedding, so this is a great alternative.

4. Cameras. Having cameras inside your trailer is the best advice around. Once you have used one, you’ll never want to haul without one again. These are the best tools for keeping up with what’s going on with your horse while you’re driving. For example, we had a very

well-behaved horse get his leg caught in a hay net that became loose. He never moved around or made a sound, but because of the camera, we could see that he was in trouble, and we were able to free him before he got hurt.

5. Halters. The safest halters are all leather or nylon halters with leather breakaway head straps. Always have extra halters and lead ropes on board in case one breaks.

6. Kick Pads. If you have a kicker or if you just want extra protection for your trailer, I highly suggest investing in a kick pad or bumper. A padded stall divider can be used for multiple purposes. We hang one on the back butt bars of naughty kickers and on the chest bars for smaller equines and babies to prevent them from going into a walkway. We even use them on our divider gates that have bars on the upper half so that horses can’t sniff noses.

Jennifer and Kevin Murphy live in Eastern N.C. with their children on a 10-acre horse farm. The couple run National Bloodstock Transport, providing horse transport services nationwide and offering local emergency hauling to surrounding equine and livestock hospitals and clinics. Visit their website at or follow them on Facebook. 252-422-3836.

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Under 21

Holland Bird's Dressage Dreams

Nine-year-old dressage rider Holland Bird of Southern Pines, North Carolina may seem like she was destined to be an equestrian, but her parents weren’t going to push her into riding. Holland is the daughter of a distinguished amateur dressage rider, Elizabeth (Beth) Parsons Bird and John Bird, an environmental engineer. Her grandmother is the horse trainer Lucy Parsons, who is the owner of Fair Day Farm riding school in Southern Pines. Lucy Parsons has students ranging in age from 6 to 70 years, and competing at all levels, from local schooling shows all the way to the USDF Dressage Finals in Kentucky.

Beth Parsons Bird says that it was obvious even from the age of 4 that her daughter Holland was serious about horses—she would make up and sing songs while she mucked, washed horses and cleaned buckets, enthusiastically attacking anything and everything that needed to be done. But it wasn’t until she was 6 that she really became serious about riding. According to her mother, she would wake her parents up on the weekends at 6 a.m. dressed in her riding clothes and asking to go to the barn. “If we told her to go back to bed, she would borrow my cell phone and call Grandma to come pick her up. We would usually hear the diesel truck come up our driveway within 30 minutes of that phone call.”

Holland’s family now lives in a house on the grounds of Fair Day Farm and Holland rides almost daily, practicing movements on any one

of several ponies: Brill, Alex, Westpoint and Bubbles. She says she doesn’t have a favorite but her 13.2 hand flashy chestnut pony Bursting Bubbles seems to be pretty special. He follows her everywhere, even without a halter or bridle, but no one else can catch him. Her first ride on him is also one of her favorite memories. She tried him out at a hunt barn in Pennsylvania Amish Country, and after she dismounted, he wrapped his neck around her in a hug.

For a little while this past year, Bubbles had to lay up after a small injury, so Holland rode Westpoint and had so much success that she qualified for the North Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Championship in November. Westpoint is a school horse in her grandmother’s program, who also carried Holland’s mother Beth in horse trials when she was in her 20s, after Lucy Parsons discovered him at a stockyard sale in Bennettsville, South Carolina and placed the winning bid for $862.75.

Holland is hoping to win Junior Introductory level Horse of the Year with Bubbles and plans to move up to Training Level next year. She is particularly interested in Musical Freestyles (an area in which her mother has some expertise, as the 2019 USDF Third Level Freestyle National Champion) and is excited to begin putting together her own rides to music. It may come as no surprise that when asked about what she wants to be when she grows up, Holland says, “I want to teach people how to ride, like my Grandma.”

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High Time Photography
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Equestrians of the Carolinas Jim Rhodes

Jim Rhodes is the president and executive director of Equine Rescue of Aiken (ERA) in Aiken, South Carolina. Based on a 90-acre farm of rolling green hills on Aiken’s southside, the rescue is among the most successful in the Southeast. It takes in and rehabilitates abused and neglected horses, finds new homes for Thoroughbreds off the racetrack and offers a robust slate of therapeutic and educational programs for humans as well – veterans and active-duty service members, children with hearing loss, first responders who need to learn how to handle large animals, and so on. ERA takes its motto very seriously: People helping horses; horses helping people.

Jim Rhodes, who is 65, lives on the grounds of the rescue with his wife Debbie. He came to his position there after a lifetime with horses.

wagon and one tied to the back. They would pick up trash along the road and go down to the bottom of the hill where there was a big open field, and I would always go down there and love on their horses. My adoptive family was not an animal family, though we always had a dog. I didn’t know until later where my attraction to horses came from.

“Everything that I have done in life, from my birth on, led me to this, And everything that I have ever done in life was a breeze compared to this."

“Everything that I have done in life, from my birth on, led me to this,” he said. “And everything that I have ever done in life was a breeze compared to this. This is the hardest thing I have ever attempted. It’s a daily challenge and it is never the same challenge.”

Jim was born in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and was put up for adoption at birth. “I was a chosen child,” he said. “I was adopted by a military and diplomatic family, and it was a very loving family. They taught me values and weren’t afraid to use discipline.”

Throughout his childhood, Jim lived in multiple places all over the world, including Ethiopia, Turkey, Japan, and Germany. His earliest memories are from Turkey, when he was about 4.

“The Turkish trashmen used to come by and they would have two horses pulling the trash

“Back in the States when I was in my early teens, my father was stationed at Fort Gordon, in Augusta, Georgia and I used to go to the riding stables there. In the summer, I would stay there all week, taking care of horses, saddling up 30 horses a day for the military people. Then the old barn there burned down and the new barn was run by a farrier, Mike Villareal. My father died and Mike took me under his wing. Later he started working at the Augusta Racetrack. I rode and exercised the racehorses there, Quarter Horses, and started going bush tracking, and I have never been out of horses since.”

As an adult, Jim became an engineer and worked for 28 years at Plant Vogtle, an electric power generating plant in Waynesboro, Georgia. Horses were his passion: He had a family then, and his own horses and a farm and “everything you could do with a horse we did.” He also developed a business buying and selling horses, which led to him founding the Perry Auction in Perry, Georgia, which he ran for 10 years.

“We did it twice a year, and we got to be the second largest sale on the East Coast. I used to be proud that there were no kill buyers coming to our auction. We had higher end horses, riding horses and carriage horses. But then when the market changed, the kill buyers started showing up. There were people that brought horses to the sale, and when they left, after

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paying their consignment fee and their stall fee and paying for their Coggins, they had to write me a check because I had sold their animal. There was not enough money in the sale to cover the expenses. That wasn’t the kind of business I wanted to be in.”

After selling the auction, Jim retired from his job. By then, he was divorced, and not sure what

he was going to do. He had a little tack business, and since most of his customers were in Aiken, that is where he went. But something in him needed to keep moving.

“I was lost,” he said. “So I got my dog Harley, hopped in my pickup truck, and I hooked up a horse trailer. I had a laptop computer and I got on the horse hauling site, and I traveled

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up and down the U.S. hauling horses. I went everywhere, back and forth – from here to California and Colorado, Washington State to Maine, to Arizona, just getting my head together. Finally, I came back here and was asked to help at the rescue, and then I was asked to take it over and the rest is history.”

Jim learned later in life that his love of horses may be in his genes. After his adoptive mother passed away, he found his birth mother in Florida and learned that his father was a man from Texas who was called “Cowboy,” and so was likely a horseman. At the rescue, he also became aware of some other things that he could not really explain.

“I had a lady come out here one time who did Reiki and asked if she could use it on one of our horses that was struggling with some mental issues,” he said. “I’m old school – I don’t believe in that magic, woo-woo stuff – but I was sitting in the office and looking down at the far end of the barn where she was standing in front of a stall and I actually could see the aura coming off the horse and going into the lady. She stayed down there about 20 minutes, and then came into the office to talk to me and she was completely out of breath and exhausted. I thought maybe there is something to this.

“I had another lady come out who was an animal communicator. And she asked me, do you mind if I go around and talk to some of the horses. Inside I chuckled, but I said to her talk away! And so she went out on the farm. I was up in the office and there was no one else around.

Two hours later she came back to the office and she said, I’ve got a couple of questions for you that one of the horses asked. So I said, what did he want to know?

“And she said, there’s a big draft horse down in the back pasture and he wanted to know what happened to his partner.”

“Now nobody knew this story, it was something that I had never said a word about. But I had picked this draft horse up at the kill auction in New Jersey. I was in Charlestown, West Virginia and had already gotten four Thoroughbreds from the track there, and I was called by a major donor who told me she bought two horses at the Canterbury auction, an Arabian and a draft horse, can you go get them? When I got there, the draft horse was in the stall with his partner. But I didn’t have any more room on the trailer, and so I left his partner there in the kill pen.

“I told the animal communicator to tell the horse I didn’t know what happened to his partner. But really, I did. . . . Should I have tried to make room for him? At the time I didn’t think about it too much. I didn’t think he would know. But if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have left him there. I would have made room. That’s something I’ve learned. Horses know more, understand more, communicate more than we think.

“I don’t think you ever quit learning about horses,” he continued. “You never quit learning about life. If we are true with ourselves, we never quit learning.”

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Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 27 YOUR EQUINE DESTINATION FOR QUALITY AND SERVICE FOR THE PAST 40 YEARS. 803-649-6583 1090 East Pine Log Road, Aiken, SC 29803

A Visit to The Willcox

Aiken's Iconic Inn

For horse people especially, no trip to Aiken is complete without a visit to The Willcox, a gracious historic inn that has been a gathering place for the city's Winter Colony for over a century. You can go there for a meal in the restaurant, a drink at the bar, or better yet stay in a luxurious and comfortable room. Charming and elegant, The Willcox has been named one of the best small inns in the country. And yet, for all this, one thing that it is not, is stuffy. Warm and welcoming, The Willcox feels like home.

The Willcox, an inn in Aiken’s downtown historic district, was purchased as a private home in 1898 by an Englishman, Frederick Willcox, and his Swedish-born wife Elsie. Elsie was a chef and Frederick was a caterer at Aiken's Highland Park Hotel. After that hotel burned down in 1900, the Willcoxes converted their home into a hostelry, filling a need in Aiken's community.

At the dawn of the 20th century, Aiken was coming into its own as a winter resort for wealthy northerners. They came first for their health –Aiken’s pine-scented air was thought to guard against tuberculosis – and then for sport. The New Yorkers Thomas and Louise Hitchcock, leaders of Aiken’s Winter Colony, played polo and started a beagle hunt and then a foxhunt. Their friend William Collins Whitney and his sons played polo and golf and established facilities for each sport that are used to this day. Members of the sporting set in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and elsewhere came down for a week, a month or the whole winter to engage in a multitude of outdoor sports, equestrian pursuits being the most important.

By the 1930s, Willcox’s (now expanded to occupy the entire block) was known as the most chic of the Aiken hotels. It attracted a guest list that reads like an international Who’s Who. The Vanderbilts stayed there, as did the Astors, the Harrimans and the Iselins. Winston Churchill, Fred Astair, Elizabeth Arden and W.R. Grace were all guests. There is even a story, never definitively confirmed, that the inn was frequented by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt while he was in office – the inn backs up to an old rail line, and FDR was said to have arrived by private railway car and slipped in and out of the hotel unseen via a private door. (His close friend and companion, Lucy Mercer Rutherford, had a winter home in Aiken.) The Willcox was so exclusive, legend has it that when a prospective guest came to ask for a room, the doorman would look at his shoes. If they were not made in England by Peel or Maxwell, the guest would be told that there were no rooms and turned away.

After Frederick Willcox’s death, the inn was run by his son Albert until it was sold in the 1950s. At this point, the old Winter Colony

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was a shadow of its former self, and with fewer visitors coming for the season, the hotel was soon shuttered. It lay dormant for almost 30 years, slowly decaying, and by the 1980s was in danger of being torn down completely. Fortunately it was purchased and repaired, opening again as a hotel in 1985. It went through several owners in the ensuing years until it was finally acquired in 2009 by Shannon and Geoff Ellis, members of Aiken’s equestrian community, who have restored it to its former glory and then some.

Today, the hotel boasts luxurious rooms and suites – you can even stay in the Roosevelt suite. All of the rooms feature old world charm along with such modern amenities as high speed internet and various business services. Coming with your dog? The Willcox is a pet friendly hotel – so pet friendly, in fact, that you can have room service deliver a pet welcome basket filled with “a selection of homemade treats for your pooch.”

Left your dog at home but brought your horse? He can’t stay at The Willcox himself. But the hotel will deliver a bunch of carrots for you to bring to him. No wonder the place is a magnet

for horse people.

Some of the hotel’s other attractions include a saltwater pool, a spa where you can get a massage or have your hair styled, an award-winning restaurant and a lobby bar. The restaurant, which serves three meals a day during the week, is especially well known for its Sunday brunch. The lobby bar features live jazz music five nights a week, and is especially popular with Aiken’s equestrians on Thursday evenings during the winter season. As horse people sometimes remark, “Sooner or later everyone always ends up at The Willcox.”

The Willcox is located on Colleton Avenue, just a short walk from the new entrance to the famous Hitchcock Woods where members of the Aiken Hounds have been hunting since 1916. With a blend of modern convenience and oldworld charm, it has taken its place as “Aiken’s living room,” attracting out-of-town guests and Aiken residents alike. Visitors come for the amenities and the ambiance, the food and the camaraderie, and, perhaps, to imagine how things used to be.

For more information, visit

34 The Carolinas Equestrian Fall 2022
Ike Sankey and his compatriots put The Willcox's horse-friendly reputation to the test before the Best of the West horse sale in 2021. Above Left: Well-behaved dogs welcome! Top Right: Julliard in Aiken concert in the lobby; Above Right: The Willcox prides itself on comfort. Below: Samantha Spitler leads the annual Hoofbeats Christmas Parade down Colleton Ave.

Reimagining Horsemanship Visiting Clinicians Bring New Perspectives

The Carolinas recently welcomed two unique equine experts who are hoping to establish a gentler, more effective and more sound way of working with horses: Dr. Susan Fay and Celeste-Leilani Lazaris.

Susan Fay travelled from Colorado to South Carolina where she worked with students privately and in clinic settings in Camden and Aiken. Dr. Fay, a lifelong rider and research scientist, is the author of the book Sacred Spaces, Communion with the Horse Through Science and Spirit, and she focuses on using energy and intention to help handlers communicate with their equine partners. Her lessons help equestrians gain a better feel for their own energy and recognize how incredibly sensitive

horses are to human energy. This awareness makes training easier and demonstrates that methods based on dominance and endless repetition are unnecessary.

Celeste-Leilani Lazaris came to Southern Tier Equestrian Center in Mooresville, North Carolina from Tacoma, Washington to teach her “Balance Through Movement Method” and to offer “Nerve Release” workshops designed for bodyworkers and veterinarians, or any horse owners who are particularly interested in helping horses relieve areas of discomfort and nerve pain. She has developed a following as a biomechanical lameness specialist and an expert in equine movement and muscle development.

Lazaris’s work with humans who have pain stemming from neck and shoulder impingements caused her to consider how many horses may suffer from similar discomfort. She believes that because horses have no collar bone, the muscular development of their thoracic sling (the muscles that hold up the horse’s chest) is vital to their soundness and comfort. A properly developed thoracic sling provides padding and holds space for the fragile brachial plexus nerve structure that resides at the base of the neck under the horse’s shoulder.

Lazaris has developed a series of postural cues for owners and horses to work through both on the ground and in the saddle to make sure that horses are using their bodies correctly and constructively. The dramatic changes that some horses undergo with her exercises offer hope to owners whose horses aren’t living up to expectations or who are struggling with rehabilitation from injury, EPM, neurological issues, and other conditions.

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Dr. Fay and Kay Hunter relax after their session with the mini Bebe, who worked on improving focus and relaxation while Hunter practiced projecting calm confidence.

During her Balance Through Movement clinics, Lazaris worked with each horse and handler one on one, showing them how to help their horse find the right posture on the ground and in the tack. In her Nerve Release Workshop she demonstrated her techniques for releasing areas of discomfort and then had students work on horses, themselves.

Stacia Strong, who hosted Lazaris for four days of clinics and workshops at Southern Tier, was overwhelmed at the response from riders of a wide variety of disciplines and levels.

“All of the horses left with remarkable improvements in posture,” she said. And while the primary goal may be to help handlers bring the horse’s body back into integrity, the process also pays dramatic relationship dividends as owners and equines practice presence and connection through her exercises.

“Along with releasing nerve impingements to take a horse out of dysfunction, step one is also about establishing the relationship with the horse,” says Strong. “The horse is not just a tool; it is a functioning being, living and breathing. The mindset changes drastically just by giving the patience and space for the horse to unwind. So many people have said ‘Gosh my horse is just so different now, emotionally and physically!’” Strong already has plans to bring Lazaris back next year.

Beverly Devereux of Asheville, North Carolina, attended sessions with both clinicians. Devereux has one of those special young horses who has kept her guessing, even though she is an experienced equestrian. “I was very impressed with Dr. Fay’s work in Aiken, where I attended her clinic at Full Moon Farm. The best way I can describe it is that I think her work is like the milk that goes under and around the Cheerios in a bowl of cereal—it is foundational, but it is easy to not realize how important it is. I have been really working on my own energy and making sure that I am breathing slowly and modelling a feeling of safety and comfort when I am around my horse."

Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 37
Celeste Lazaris allows Copper to spend a few minutes processing after demonstrating her nerve release techniques. Copper was an enthusiastic and expressive participant, even lying down and rolling in the arena during the bodywork session.

Devereux also has been integrating the exercises and release techniques she learned from Celeste Lazaris to help her horse develop correctly. “I think the two clinicians are really doing amazing things, and the work they are demonstrating fits very nicely together. With the pillars [the postural cues developed by Lazaris] I can try to help my horse to be comfortable in his body, and to use his body correctly, while with Dr. Fay’s work I can help support him by being in my mind and body correctly, too.”

During her clinic, Dr. Fay led students in breathing exercises to slow their breath and center their energy. She discussed their thoughts and feelings, and helped them project calm leadership. One horse who was severely anxious about being saddled made incredible progress as the owner and Dr. Fay practiced visualizing tacking up while releasing anxiety.

Laura Thomas, of Winnsboro, SC, organized Dr. Fay’s trip this year, which follows a similar one she put together in 2021. Thomas says she

has witnessed the transformative power of Dr. Fay’s work with her own horses. “The deeper energetic connection to my horses and the progress we have made in working with Dr. Fay defies words. Every horse person, regardless of discipline or skill level, could benefit from learning to be fully present and open with their horses and allowing their horses to be the same. Energetic communication makes the physical flow smoothly and flawlessly… Breath awareness, being an energetic model, imagery, allowing the horse to work through emotions and not just making them push through… Imagine what horses and humans could accomplish together!”

The equestrians who attended these clinics were lucky to benefit from both of these creative, kind and gifted women as they shared their experience and guidance for the betterment of the horse world. The ripples they are creating will continue to spread and generate positive change in how we are with our horses, and hopefully in how we are as people as well.

38 The Carolinas Equestrian Fall 2022
Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 39 Established 1977 Horse Trailers Stock Trailers Utility Trailers Cargo Trailers Dump Trailers Equipment Trailers Sales and Service 11021 Garners Ferry Rd Eastover, SC 29044 803-353-8826

Equestrian Sculptor

Morgen Kilbourn Finds Her Niche

The love of horses extends well beyond the barn for most equine enthusiasts. Their passion is evident in many aspects of their lives, including an attraction to horsethemed clothing and jewelry. Their homes are not immune to horse fever either, and are often decorated with equestrian paintings, prints and photographs. As a lifelong horsewoman, the North Carolina artist Morgen Kilbourn has developed another opportunity for celebrating horses in art: unique and affordable equine sculptures.

Morgen has sculptures in museums, and many grace the homes of private collectors throughout the country. Her work has been recognized by numerous organizations, including the Society of Animal Artists and the American Academy of Equine Art, for which she has served as the Dean

of Sculpture. She has created some very highpriced one-of-a-kind commissioned pieces, and has also sculpted several models for the renowned toy company Breyer Animal Creations – tens of thousands of these models are produced and are sold for around $60 each.

But Morgen says her focus is the market in between those extremes. Although she produces sculptures in various sizes and media, including bronze and china, artist resins are her most popular product. These are limitededition sculptures, designed on a 1:9 scale or smaller, and can be purchased directly from her for $350-$500.

“It’s a niche market,” she says. “The sculptures are not painted; people paint them themselves or have artists do so,” Morgen explains, adding, “Most of my customers want to paint

Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 41

the sculptures to resemble a specific horse.”

The resin designs are a hit with other horse artists: “This gives them a way to create a type of three-dimensional horse art, instead of just doing them on canvas.”

Morgen emphasizes that her resin sculptures are a piece of art, not a toy to be played with. “Breyers are made in acetate plastic. It is softer and more forgiving than a resin. If you drop a Breyer horse it won’t necessarily break, but if you drop a resin one, it undoubtedly will.”

She builds most of her sculptures in the studio on her 12-acre farm in central North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, numerous dogs and several horses. “I sculpt in several media depending on the subject, and to challenge myself. Mostly I work with a hard clay, a soft clay, and a bakeable clay. I don’t often work in wax. I would use soft clay for a horse that is fleshier, one that I didn’t want to have a stock horse look with hard chiseled muscles. For a warmblood, I

might try soft clay and for a stock horse, bakeable clay would work well.”

Morgen has made sculptures to represent specific horses, such as Belantis, a dressage champion ridden by the German Olympic gold medalist Isabel Werth, which the rider commissioned as a fundraiser in her native Germany. “But I prefer to do my own designs and not someone else’s horse, and it avoids any copyright issues,” Morgen says.

Morgen portrays horses realistically in any discipline and has an uncanny ability to portray movement. Growing up in Connecticut, she says she was always around horses, first riding and later grooming for high level event and dressage riders. She understands the animal’s movement and the role of conformation.

“When I was 18, I rode with a classical dressage trainer which is how I got on that track. She taught me all the biomechanics of movement.” Morgen is excited about new technologies that

42 The Carolinas Equestrian Fall 2022

combine anatomy overlay software with videos of horses. “I am passionate about hyper-realism and this innovative new technology now allows me to show people how the biomechanics work.”

Textural surface detail is also key to Morgen’s work. She explains that the definition in a finished piece, no matter the media, depends on what kind of detail the artist creates. “I like to do the surface capillaries and really tiny details. They show up exceptionally well in the resins,”

art career. “I’m not sure if I became a sculptor due to nurture or nature,” she says. “It was precisely because of seeing my grandfather and father’s careers that I didn’t want to go into art. For my grandfather, even though he sold big abstract pieces that can still be found all around Connecticut, it wasn’t consistent and not enough to live on, so he was teaching all the time. And then my father’s high stress commercial work; I didn’t want to do that either,” Morgen explains.

"I would ask top level riders for critiques of my work. . I soon realized they weren’t looking at the proportions, only the movement."

she says. But she explains that with bronze some of that detail can be lost, depending upon how the piece is treated after the poured bronze comes out of the mold. “The poured pieces are cleaned by sandblasting, and some places sandblast more than others.”

Although her father was a commercial sculptor and her grandfather a fine art sculptor and teacher, Morgen never intended to have an

So after college, she worked in the biotech field until a downturn in the economy forced her layoff. “While looking for a job, I was working as a groom and began sculpting dressage horses. I would ask top level riders for critiques of my work, and oddly, I found they don’t give the best feedback,” she recalls. “I soon realized they weren’t looking at the proportions, only the movement.”

Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 43

Morgen says she doesn’t have any aspirations to be a commercial sculptor, but her foray into the commercial field through Breyer Animal Creations has been a great experience. “I’ve done several pieces for Breyer which has been huge for me,” she affirms. She explains that, ironically, this was a life goal for her when she was a child.

“When I was about 10 years old, I was reading one of the little booklets that comes with a Breyer model,” she says. “I was amazed to learn that each piece is made by one artist, not a committee. I was used to how my father had to work with numerous artists designing Cabbage Patch Kids for Coleco Industries. He never got credit for his work. Breyer is very respectful of their artists, and I so admire and appreciate that.”

Her first piece for Breyer was Wyatt, an action stock horse, produced in 2014. Since then,

she has sculpted another stock horse, two sport horses, and a sleeping mare and foal for the legendary model horse company.

Morgen occasionally teaches week-long sculpting seminars. “I have done numerous group clinics through the American Academy of Equine Arts, three at the Kentucky Horse Park and one at the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum,” Morgen says. She keeps the group small to allow plenty of time with each student. She adds that the students’ experience levels vary widely. “In one clinic I had a woman who I would call a ‘bucket lister’; she had never touched clay before. But right beside her was a woman who had sculpted a life-sized horse. I was so jealous, as that is something I’ve dreamed of doing.”

Visit and look for “catalog of work” to see available pieces. Join her email list to receive notifications of new offerings and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 45
Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 47 Camden SC I-20 Exit 101 Your Camden Showgrounds a 501c3 non-profit organization 288 STALLS WITH RUBBER MATS, 3 EXHIBIT RINGS WITH STATE OF THE ART FOOTING, 2 COVERED ARENAS, FANS, CATTLE PENS, LUNGEING, SCHOOLING, AND VENDOR AREA 443 Cleveland School Rd Camden SC 29020 Mailing Address P O Box 2174, Camden SC 29020 Please contact the Show Manager with questions about their event. Since 2009 For Booking Information 803-486-4938 or for Event Calendar NAME A STALL We will provide a name plaque to honor your horse. PM for details. Ask us about NAME A BARN, NAME A RING & MORE! We love to see our visitors showcased across the property! We look forward to seeing you ringside! Check our Facebook Page for Schooling Series Days Not state funded ARENAS The Next Step in Footing SERViCES: • All Weather Arena Footing Installation • Facility & Riding Arena Design Layout • Round Pen Installation • Drainage System Installation • Turf & Polo Field Installation • Laser And GPS Capabilities • Barn Pad Excavation & Installation • Standard Blue Stone Available THE NEXT STEP iN FOOTiNG Consulting services are available for all aspects of the design and construction of your equestrian facilities. OUR PLEDGE: CB Arenas offers unparalleled peace of mind for all your equestrian facility needs. 973-222-1668 | CBFARMS.US “Love my arena. Thanks Clint for the great work.” ~ Kate Brown, 5* Eventer/Trainer

Index of Advertisers

Aiken Horse Park 23

Aiken Polo Club 46

Aiken Saddlery, Inc. 27

Banks Mill Feeds 39

Barefoot Trimmer 49

Best Farrier Service 49

Camden Horse Blanket LLC 26

Camden Hunter Jumper Series 38

Carolina Company RE 51

Carolina Trailer Sales 19


Clint Bertalan Farms LLC 47

DFG Stables 27


Equine Divine 15

Equine Dynamics 49

Happy Paws Pet Sitting 49

Henn Automotive 15

Highfields 22

Hunter’s Trace 23

LA Trailer Sales 15

Laura O’Connor Equestrian 14 Mark Lexton 39

Sullivan Turner Team|Meybohm RE 5 Meybohm RE Vaillancourt 4

Middleboro Trailer Sales 39 NibbleNet 39

SC Equine Associates 18

Shangri-La Equestrian 49

South Carolina Equine Park 26 Stable View, LLC 52

The Tack Room 14 The Willcox/Greystone Inn 3 Tryon Equine Law 49

Vintage Copper and More 39


Our advertising deadline is December 30 and the issue will be out in January. Check out the full ad rates and advertising guidelines on our website:, or contact us for more information. Advertising design assistance is available.

Our Winter 2023 Issue features JUNIOR RIDERS!

Ask about our YEAR END CONGRATULATORY SPECIALS. This will be a great time to celebrate the achievements of all our Carolinas riders, young and old.

Lauren Allen, Camden SC 803-270-1275

Pam Gleason, Aiken SC 803-643-9960

Ashley Haffey, Statesboro NC 607-743-1309

48 The Carolinas Equestrian Fall 2022
Finalists in the SCHJA Governor's Cup


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864-735-8502 (Ashley)

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Servicing Davie County and surrounding area. Barefoot horses do compete at the highest levels. Optional glue on shoes for performance or transitioning. Lisa Habbley: 815-354-0765;

2016 MODEL OTTB Mcdreamy would be the perfect event horse. He has a puppy dog personality & loves to be pampered. $11500. Find his video at 607-743-1309


The Carolinas Equestrian is looking for advertising representatives. Commissionbased PT jobs for self-starters who know horses and horse people. Tryon, Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Southern Pines NC. Columbia, Charleston, Greenville SC. Email Us:

Fall 2022 The Carolinas Equestrian 49

Parting Shot

Elegance in Tryon

50 The Carolinas Equestrian Fall 2022
Marianna Padgett Yeager with her Hackney, Bravo, competing in the FEI 2-star for Single Horse at the Tryon CDE, Tryon International Equestrian Park. Marianna's husband, Gary Yeager, is her groom. Photography by Sharon Packer.
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