Wealthy business executives, professional athletes and famous musicians come to Hilton Head Island to retire or buy a second home.
But now the island is home to another sort of athlete - most of whom would be considered failures in their sport.
Meet "Explosive Cloud," A horse whose owner likely had high hopes of making it big in thoroughbred racing.
The problem was he didn’t want to run.
“He’s far from explosive,” said Sondra Makowski, 31 co-partner of non-profit Second Wind Thoroughbred Project and co-owner of Driftwood Stable on Hilton Head Island.
When taken out for a trot by a teenager getting riding lessons on a recent Friday morning, Vander — the new name given him by his Hilton Head owners — called all the shots as he sauntered and stopped beneath the shade of a live oak tree.
And that’s why Vander is on Hilton Head. He's owned by the non-profit SWTP and the group is trying to find what would make him happy.
Makowski's business partner, Dayle Eldredge, 62, explains it this way.
“What if you were told you had to be an accountant,” Eldredge asked and immediately answered back, “No, I don’t want to be an accountant.” ... “Some horses don’t want to be a thoroughbred. Some horses want to work cattle, play polo, fox hunt, even trail riding. You have to feel them out and find what they want to do.”
Eldredge said thoroughbreds are the most versatile breed in the world and have big dreams of the island location.
Hilton Head may be the place where she can start to live that dream with the help of retired veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The program is similar to Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding — a model at that is extremely successful.
While some of the thoroughbreds are abused with strong twists of the ear or bridled over their teeth to get them to respond, the majority of the horses SWTP works with usually have one overriding health problem — ulcers.
Thoroughbreds that race live regimented lives. Eldredge says when training or the race is over, they are taken back to their 12-feet wide by 12-feet long stall.
They don't get to socialize and they have no pasture time.
And then when one horse doesn’t win, owners often simply move on to the next one.
The group's leaders have years of experience and networking with horse breeders. That creates a steady flow of thoroughbreds into the program.
And Elderidge has a long, familial connection to the would-be champions.
Her mother, Gayle Frasier, was a stallion coordinator at Harley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds in Ocala, Fla., for almost 15 years.
Eldredge started competing at 10 and got her first former racehorse when she was 14. She's a licensed horse show judge with the United States Equestrian Federation, a board member of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association and helps to approve facilities in the U.S. for horse retirement facilities.
"When we get them here (Hilton Head) we give them time to slow down and decompress."
But it's expensive.
SWTP estimates it costs about $300 to $650 a month to take care of a horse in the program.
“Mom and I have been paying out of pocket. We have a small grant but we also throw fundraisers,” Eldredge said as a woman with several youngsters pulled up to the stables and asked to feed the horses.
In a year, Eldredge estimates it will cost $70,000 to provide food and medical care for the nine Thoroughbreds. That amount doesn't include the rent for the farm.
And there's a lot of horses that won't make it in the racing world.
In 2015, Eldredge said estimates showed that there were 22,000 births of thoroughbreds in the U.S.
Only the smallest percentage of those horses will become successful for their owners.
On Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Driftwood Stables at the Paddocks located at 200 Jonesville Road on Hilton Head Island, visitors will be able to tour the barn, meet the owners and learn the back stories of their thoroughbreds. A wine and cheese party will follow for a small donation.
Most people buy a thoroughbred thinking they are going to make millions.
The odds are they won't.
Elderidge wants to show them that living happily can be a victory all in itself.