Riding Program

The Sweet Briar College Riding Program is focused on the development of active and responsible women utilizing interactions with horses and horse sports and recreational activities in a strong instructional program as the medium. (See Course Descriptions)

This is accomplished by providing students opportunities to:   
a) develop skills in self-expression, self-discipline, and the self-confidence necessary to assume leadership roles   
b) interact with and learn from humans and equines of diverse backgrounds and abilities, thus encouraging a sensitivity to others
c) understand their responsibility for their own learning which will enable them to be successful learners long after leaving Sweet Briar.
d) increase their skill, understanding, and fitness for equestrian pursuits, and ultimately, their own physical well-being   
e) gain a sense of perspective regarding competition and understand the many definitions of “winning”   
f) explore and gain an appreciation of the historical development of equestrian sport and its impact on art, literature, and society through the years   
g) apply their accomplishments and experiences to a variety of outcomes including obtaining a job, gaining acceptance into a postgraduate program, competitive success as an exhibitor, development of a lifetime recreational activity, and appreciation of horses and horse sports from the perspective of an educated audience.

The depth of the program’s impact on an individual is somewhat a reflection of her degree of involvement with the program. There is an additional horse use fee for the mounted courses (see College Fees). There is no additional charge for coaching at competitions/activities or the lecture courses.


There are three riding team opportunities: Spring Hunter Show Team which focuses on state and AHSA competitions as well as ANRC Intercollegiate Championships; fall and spring term Club IHSA Team; and Fall Field Riding Team which focuses on Hunter Trials, Hunter Pace events, and riding to hounds. In addition, a fall and spring term independent competitor’s calendar in hunter/jumper and equitation divisions as well as Fall Hunter Paces and Hunter Trials is available to those students whose other responsibilities do not allow a team commitment or to those students not selected for a team. The College Riding Program is a member of the Virginia Horse Show Association (VHSA), the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), the Affiliated National Riding Committee (ANRC, and the American Horse Show Association (AHSA). The Riding Program sponsors a number of competitive opportunities for riders of all levels such as “Fun Shows,” intercollegiate competitions, and AHSA competitions in the hunter/jumper and equitation divisions, including the United States Equestrian Team Talent Search Medal Class.

The instructional program offers a management concentration and a teaching and schooling concentration for students interested in a career in the equine industry and for the student/amateur who would enjoy expanding her knowledge and experience in these areas. In conjunction with the concentrations, a range of potential internships have been developed including veterinary medicine in clinical and research settings, manufacturing, marketing, and museum curating, as well as others within the diverse aspects of the horse industry.

The College does not offer a major or minor in equestrian studies, but it does offer a certificate in Equine Studies. The vast majority of courses offered by the Riding Program, other than those taken to fulfill the physical activity requirement, will not count toward graduation requirements. However, all courses taken will be recorded on the transcript and will indicate the development of a good general background, as well as some specialization on an advanced level. If you are considering pursuing employment in this field, a Sweet Briar College liberal arts degree, an official transcript listing courses and internships successfully completed in the Riding Program, and a personal letter from the Director of the Riding Program will be most valuable in securing a good employment opportunity.

The program sponsors informal, organized, and educational recreational activities throughout the year. These opportunities include trail riding independently seven days a week, guided trail rides at least several times a week, independent riding seven days a week in outdoor rings or indoors with music. Field trips, Fun Shows and organized games such as an Easter egg hunt are also offered.

The program has a range of leadership opportunities that include the Riding Program Advisory Committee, the Student Riding Council, student teacher program, trail guides, and activity management positions such as horse show coordinator. There are also internships, externships, and other employment opportunities such as weekend stable worker, head of tack, and office assistants.

Riding Program Courses
There is an additional fee for riding (see College Fees).   

Instruction is provided for the beginning level through advanced levels, including schooling and AHSA hunter, jumper and equitation levels to accommodate students of varying abilities and experience. These courses are offered to fulfill the General Education Physical Activity requirement (IV.3) and a maximum of five credits in physical education activity courses and/or Riding Program activity courses may be applied toward the degree. Beyond this, students who elect to continue a riding education should register each semester for a course which meets their interests and goals. A minimum of two instructional sessions per week, as well as theory/written work, is required for the successful completion of a course. Credit is given at the rate of 0.5 credits per quarter or 1 credit per semester. In addition, several special courses are offered for full academic credit. Courses are offered on a rotating basis. Please consult the Riding Program Handbook for descriptions of current courses, the five-year schedule of course offerings, and for other information about the program.

Activity courses are graded on a P/CR/NC grading option only.

RDPR 162        Pre-position
RDPR 163        Position
RDPR 164        Advanced Position
RDPR 167        Independent Riders w/Hacking I
RDPR 170        Introduction to Position and Control
RDPR 171        Position and Control I
RDPR 172        Position with Hacking
RDPR 173        Competitive Trail Riding
RDPR 175        Position with Introduction to Jumping
RDPR 181        Position and Control II
RDPR 185        Jumping Fundamentals I
RDPR 186        Jumping Fundamentals II
RDPR 188        Riding Problems
RDPR 190        Introduction to Field Riding and Hacking
RDPR 196        Introduction to Riding Courses I
RDPR 197        Introduction to Riding Courses II
RDPR 198        Introduction to Natural Horsemanship
RDPR 281        Introduction to Showing Hunters I
RDPR 285        Introduction to Field Riding and Jumping
RDPR 286        Riding Courses I
RDPR 288        Dressage Sportif
RDPR 290        Prix Caprilli
RDPR 291        Introduction to Schooling Horses
RDPR 294        Introduction to Schooling and Competing with Jumpers
RDPR 296        Introduction to Competing Jumpers
RDPR 371        ANRC Levels Prep and Performance
RDPR 381        Showing Hunters I
RDPR 382        Showing Hunters II
RDPR 385        Fall Field Riding Team
RDPR 391        Schooling Young and Problem Horses I
RDPR 393        Schooling Young and Problem Horses II
RDPR 394        Schooling and Competing with Jumpers I
RDPR 398        Show Team

Non-Credit Courses
The department offers non-activity courses and seminars in special topics relating to the Riding Program. These courses meet once per week and, in addition, include readings, laboratory assignments, and a field trip or special project. These courses will be listed on the transcript but will not be counted for credit or toward satisfying the General Education Physical Activity Requirement.

RDPR 169    (0)    Basic Horse Care
RDPR 192    (0)    Form to Function
RDPR 297    (0)    Practicum for Student Assistants

Elective Courses
These courses are graded and count toward the hours required for graduation, but as non-activity courses, they do not satisfy the General Education Physical Activity Requirement.

RDPR 161 (1, 2, or 3)–Special Study
RDPR 207 (2)–Equine Activities Management Class
RDPR 218 (2)–Horse Care and Stable Management Practicum
RDPR 295 (1)–Teaching Techniques for Student Teachers
RDPR 297 (0)–Student Assistant Practicum
RDPR 361 (1, 2, or 3)–Special Study
RDPR 377 (1, 2, or 3)–Internship
RDPR 390 (2)–Farm and Stable Management
RDPR 392 (3)–Theory and Practice of Schooling Horses
RDPR 396 (3)–Contemporary Riding and Teaching
RDPR 461 (1, 2, or 3)–Independent Study


Course Descriptions

RDPR 161

| Special Study

RDPR 207

| Equine Activities Management Class

RDPR 218

| Horse Care and Stable Management Practicum

RDPR 295

| Teaching Techniques for Student Teachers

RDPR 297

| Student Assistant Practicum

RDPR 361

| Special Study

RDPR 377

| Internship

RDPR 390

| Farm and Stable Management

RDPR 392

| Theory and Practice of Schooling Horses

RDPR 396

| Contemporary Riding and Teaching

RDPR 461

| Independent Study