B rays Island is located amid some of the most scenic beauty you’ll find anywhere, and there are plenty of ways to explore this premiere sporting community in the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Equestrian pursuits have always been an important part of life here and were a priority when Sumner Pingree planned his development. Today, you’ll see horses grazing in lush fields or taking riders on exhilarating journeys over 60 miles of riding trails that criss-cross the property.
Brays Island Equestrian Center has 51 stalls, large and small arenas, a training-level dressage arena and a standard-size round pen. The Center hosts a variety of activities for owners and their families including clinics, group trail rides, summer equestrian camp and annual holiday celebrations.
Here are a few of Brays Island owners’ favorite ways to ride:
Brays affords a riding canvas for owners that is unmatched on the Eastern seaboard, with thousands of acres of scenery to be enjoyed on horseback and a trail system that meanders through vast, open fields, along rivers and salt ponds and through old-growth coastal forest.
Explore thousands of acres of common land on a daily basis on your own horse or on one of the many Brays Island horses.
The resident trail horses are carefully selected with safety in mind, so whether you’re experienced or just beginning to learn, there’s a spot for everyone on the rides.
Ride and Dine
Seeing the community from horseback is a unique experience. Throw in a handful of other owners, a wonderfully catered brunch, a Bloody Mary or two, and you’ve got something really special. Hosted periodically by the equestrian department, the “Ride and Dine” event provides a unique form of equestrian fellowship.
“Riders all meet at the Equestrian Center, where they are grouped together according to the preferred pace of the group: walk, walk/trot or canter,” Brays Island Equestrian Director Nicole Palazzo said. From there, everyone fans out across the community, all headed to a common destination. “This is a neat event,” said previous owner Marcia Hersh. “It captures what Brays is all about… the openness, the acreage. Brays is such a unique piece of property and to be able to take your horses out and take them to lunch, it’s just wonderful.”
Several hours and lots of good conversation later, the groups reconnect at the meeting spot, where Brays staff has been busy behind the scenes, setting the stage for an elegant meal. “By the time the owners show up, we will have the bar set up and meal ready,” said Alex Young, Brays Island onsite Sommelier. “They will step off their horses and get ready for a cocktail and lively conversation with their fellow owners, followed by a mouthwatering meal cooked by Executive Chef Ron Andrews and his staff. Everything is done to Brays standards, from the white tablecloths to the food itself. We want it to be special every time because, as we say, we are family serving family.”
If the 60 miles of equestrian trails on site aren’t enough, horse enthusiasts can explore the beaches at nearby Hunting Island State Park.
Equestrian staff members schedule and organize regular coastal riding trips on Hunting Island during the winter months, when the state park opens its beaches to horses. “It’s something everyone should do at least once,” said Steve Thurston. He and his wife, Cheri, keep two horses on Brays and love the riding opportunities offered there.
Graham and Rita Stikelether don’t have their own horses but always ride when they’re in town. “There’s such an interest at Brays in the equestrian facilities,” Rita said. “What’s really nice for us is that we don’t own horses, but we get to rent these. They’re all taken care of, and the staff does an excellent job of matching up the right rider with the right horse. We always feel safe, and the whole team puts together a wonderful trail ride when we bring guests.”
Owners can enjoy this scenic ride in the sand followed by lunch in the park twice a month during the months of December, January and February.
While equestrians enjoy the coastal riding life at Brays Island, they can also enjoy countless outdoor pursuits including shooting and hunting, boating, fishing and golf.