If the idea of an open road, wind in your mane, 32 art horses, and five mountain towns makes you giddy (up), then this venture is for you. The Art of the Horse Outdoor Exhibit, hosted and created by Our Carolina Foothills, offers a tour of the Foothills area while showcasing artistic talents through creative horse displays.

Illustration by Timothy Banks

LANDRUM, SC

Begin your journey up scenic Highway 11 to grab an Art of the Horse map from The Cliffs at Glassy guard station. Here you’ll glimpse the first art horse, designed by Spartanburg artist Barbour Bordogna. Catch six other horses at places like Whimsical World Gallery or Stone Soup, which offers scratch-made baked goods, sandwiches, salads, brick-oven pizza, and more. If you tour on Saturday, check out the farmer’s market in full swing, where you’ll find the art horse Constellation: The Stars Shine for Everyone.

TRYON, NC

Tryon may be tiny, but it’s the location of eight art horses and many interesting must-stops. Grab a coffee in St. Luke’s Plaza at Tryon Coffeehouse, and if you’re getting hungry—don’t say you could eat a horse—check out Katie D’s NY Deli for authentic bagels. Tryon was the birthplace of jazz sensation Nina Simone, and she is honored here with a bronze statue. Sit on the bench across the street from the plaza for a good view of the art horse that pays tribute to her.

SALUDA, NC

Continue north on Highway 176 into Saluda. Although only two art horses stand here, you won’t be disappointed with the town’s offerings. Grab a meal at Caro-Mi Dining Room (check their hours first), and if you feel like stretching your legs, head to Pierson’s Falls for a quick and relatively easy hike in this beautifully preserved park by the Tryon Garden Club. When you’re ready to hang your boots for the night, check in at the Blue Firefly Inn and view the Carolina horse by Greenville artist Hamed Mahmoodi. For dinner, don’t miss the The Purple Onion, which usually has live entertainment on its picturesque patio. On your way out of town, spot the Dream Weaver horse by Gigi Dover.

COLUMBUS, NC

Wind your way to Columbus and be sure to get a caffeine boost at Openroad Coffee just off I-26. There are four art horses in this town, including one by artist and equestrian Laurie Sullivan, who brings light to all eight disciplines of the FEI World Equestrian Games this month. Go winery-hopping at Overmountain Vineyards and Mountain Brook, then finish the day at Italian stand-out Giardini Trattoria.

MILL SPRING, NC

Mill Spring is the next stop made notable for the formidable Tryon International Equestrian Center, full of restaurants, shops, and real horses. During September 11–23, TIEC will be home to the FEI World Equestrian Games (to learn more, turn to page 71). As you take in the area, locate the four art horses near TIEC, Caitlyn Farms, and Brights Creek, especially Ode to WEG, Barbour Bordogna’s anchor art horse stabled at TIEC, as well as Forces of Nature by renowned artist Jagadish Pradhu.

From Landrum to Mill Spring, five Foothills towns northwest of Greenville celebrate the area’s equine heritage with the Art of the Horse outdoor exhibit. For more information visit ourcarolinafoothills.com/art-of-the-horse