When you think of equine-focused lodgings in the Upstate, the Red Horse Inn canters immediately to mind. Opened by Mary and Roger Wolters in 1995, the B&B crowns a hilltop on 192 acres of sylvan pastureland in the hunt country north of Greenville.
The inn is steeped in equine references, from its name—which honors the memory of Winston, the Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse cross the Wolters owned when they started the inn—to the network of fox-hunting trails that thread the wooded acreage. If you’re lucky, you might spot an outing of the local Tryon Hounds club, its members clad in formal hunt jackets, caps, and breeches.
Conceived as a horse-friendly retreat, the property enfolds six inn rooms and six cottages. The latter squat on a hill above the main inn, commanding splendid vistas of nearby peaks. Guests who want to bring their own horses can book the Hayloft Cottage, which has its own paddock and turn-out shed.
GREENER PASTURES // Bring your own horse for a stay at the Hayloft Cottage with its own paddock and turnout shed, or find your pleasure in another of the five cottages (such as the Granary at left and below) or six rooms on the property.
These days, a buckskin-colored mare called Secret grazes in the emerald pasture hemmed in by white farm fences. The four-year-old claims a prominent lineage: Secret is the great-granddaughter of the celebrated U.S. Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Keep an eye out for her in the morning, as she gallops and bucks her way across the eld on her fist run of the day.
Our lovely accommodations for the evening, the Gable Room on the inn’s second floor, proffers a large bathroom with a jetted tub, and a king bed swathed in gauzy white curtains and strewn with fabric rose petals. Folding tables and chairs wait in the closet, eager to be set up on the room’s small porch.
“Breakfast,” notes Mary, “sets the inn apart.” In the early days, she would lay out a morning buffet in the light-filled sunroom. As time went on, she noticed that guests would retrieve breakfast items to take back to their rooms. “By the time the thousandth guest said they preferred to do this, I finally changed the way I did breakfast,” Mary laughs.
Now each room has its own breakfast pantry, often hidden in a closet. The evening before, Mary stocks the mini-refrigerator with goodies such as muffins, egg and potato casseroles, and yogurt, fruit, and granola parfaits—not to mention orange juice and all the fixings for coffee and tea. Guests can heat up breakfast at their leisure using the coffeemaker and microwave provided in the room.
For those who want to explore the area, Mary coordinates activities for her guests, from horseback waterfall tours to winery visits. She will even pack you a picnic to take on the 15-minute walk that leads through the woods to the highest point on the property. At the summit—an idyllic spot for marriage proposals—two Adirondack chairs invite you to sit and savor the view.
The Red Horse Inn is a place of peace, where the silence is profound and relaxation is assured. And after 20 years, Mary Wolters still loves being an innkeeper. “It’s not like a job,” exclaims the daughter of an Episcopal priest, “it’s like a ministry. I get to make people happy for a living.”