Today, the Hiltons have about 20 horses on the farm, including babies, mares and stallions.
If Scott County is the ‘hub’ of Southwest Virginia’s horse country, Sherry Hilton is the ‘wheel, axel and engine.’ She is a founding member and current president of the 500-member Scott County Regional Horse Association, and the tireless driving force behind the highly successful Scott County Horse Park in Dungannon, Va.
Sherry is married to Martin Hilton and is the general manager of Cedar Point Farms (CPF), a 150-acre horse farm bordering the picturesque fishing stream called Big Moccasin Creek near Nickelsville, Va.
"My family acquired the farm in 1925. Early on, they raised hogs, sheep, chickens and wheat," said Martin, sitting in front of the center of CPF life, an old tobacco barn converted for horses. "I was born on the property and remember as a boy we made molasses from sugarcane and apple butter to sale. We also raised tobacco and corn, so we were pretty busy dawn to dusk."
Horses have always been an important part of CPF life. Growing up, Martin and his father raised and broke horses to work the farm. They also bred and raised riding horses, primarily for the family. But the real focus on saddle horses started in earnest when Sherry and Martin married in 1996.
"We were actually married in one of the old tobacco barns on a hill overlooking the farm. It was so beautiful," Sherry said. "At that time, we were raising cattle and decided to sell off our herd and focus on breeding, raising and training the finest saddle horses in the region."
Today, the Hiltons have about 20 horses on the farm: babies, mares and stallions. Standardbreds, Tennessee Walking Horses and American Saddlebreds, smooth gaited horses all.
"We particularly focus on breeding and training ‘Rack’ horses," said Sherry. "‘Rack’ is not a breed but rather a very smooth gait that provides the most desirable, comfortable and enjoyable ride for any event, including trail riding."
Sherry enjoys riding the trails of Scott County with her friends.
"I think Scott County and Southwest Virginia have some of the most beautiful trails," she said, "and I love the company and companionship of a good horse... and fellow horse men and women."
Resting deep in the high grass overlooking Big Moccasin Creek at Cedar Point Farms, a three-month-old filly is bathed by the late afternoon sun. Scott County at its most picturesque.