WILLISTON--The last winter Jocelyn Deschene spent in Maine included frozen ice buckets every two hours, snow that was eight feet high and cold temperatures. Those were just some of the variables that served as the impetus for the horseman to relocate to Aiken.

Deschene is the owner of Dancing Horses Equestrian Center. The cold winters were only one of the reasons why she decided to leave Maine.

“I had seven students, they all competed and had qualified for championships, but they all went off to college,” said Deschene. “I had a choice to start over with a whole new group of kids, bring them through, or move to a place where I wanted to go and stay for a while.”

The dressage rider was familiar with Aiken, having competed in the area previously. Deschene went to Florida on a routine basis, and wanted to be located a little farther north.

“I went online and began looking for places to rent,” she said. “I found one, so I called, and went down later in the week to check it out. Two weeks later, I was selling my truck and trailer, buying a bigger rig, putting the horses in it and driving to Aiken.”

Deschene tested the waters, first by renting a place, before she made the decision to purchase a piece of property. She bought Dancing Horses Equestrian Center three months ago.

“Our idea is to stay here because it’s our intention to grow the business, while at the same time do things that are fun,” said Deschene.

Dancing Horses Equestrian Center offers training, lessons, boarding, host shows, has a dressage arena, a full stadium jumping course and some cross country jumping efforts. Future plans call for hosting jumper derbies; horse trials, novice level and under and dressage clinics, said Deschene.

“I’d like to build enough cross country fences to do an actual three phase (horse trials),” said Deschene. “I’m changing the stadium jumping course all the time because I get bored very quickly.”

Dancing Horses Equestrian Center also hosts a very different kind of show, something that Deschene became involved with when she was based in Maine, the cowboy challenge. Deschene had hosted dressage and combined training and schooling shows, and clinics.

“The western side of the barn got jealous,” said Deschene. “They decided they wanted to host an extreme cowboy challenge.”

Deschene’s experience as an organizer would be put to the test as the idea for the cowboy challenge was abandoned by those who had previoulsy been so adamant about having a competition showcasing the versatility of their horses, and their skill as horsemen.

“They all threw up their hands and walked away from it,” said Deschene. “I stepped in, and ended up finishing and running the show. The shows were popular and a blast.”

It’s Deschene’s hope that over time the cowboy challenges will flourish at Dancing Horses Equestrian Center and be as well received in Aiken as they were in Maine.

Combined training and schooling shows and cowboy challenges are part of the monthly calendar at Dancing Horses Equestrian Center. The combined training and schooling shows are the first Saturday of every month, and the cowboy challenges are held the following Saturday. Plans call for holding combined training and schooling shows at the facility each Wednesday.

“When we start offering the derbies, they’ll be held on the third Saturday of each month,” said Deschene.

Dancing Horses Equestrian Center offers the horses Deschene has in training ample variety, so it keeps their mind fresh while they’re in work. Dressage, jumping, the cowboy challenge course, racetrack and the trails on the facility and the adjacent property allows for the horseman to do something different on a routine basis.

Combined driving is another discipline that Deschene has recently become involved in, and would like for Dancing Horses to be able to host an arena driving trial in the future, she said.

“I drove when I was a little kid, a little bit here and there, and I’ve driven with people,” said Deschene. “And last year, I was a navigator for the first time. I had a great time. I have the bug. I actually have two driving horses.”

Dancing Horses Equestrian Center will host its inaugural Fall Festival on Oct. 28, starting at 8 a.m. The event will feature a combined training and schooling show, and a cowboy challenge, with part of the proceeds from the cowboy challenge entry fee going to Equine Rescue of Aiken. The Fall Festival will also feature face painting, pony rides, games and costume parade with prizes for the best costumes.

Dancing Horses Equestrian Center is locted at 149 Moseley Road, Williston. You can access their website at dancinghorsesequestrian.com.