What is the student-to-instructor ratio in most riding classes?
Classes range from 3:1 to 6:1. Small classes allow for the individual attention a student needs to develop skills and ability.
Will I be able to ride with different instructors?
Yes, each instructor teaches classes on a variety of levels
Where is the Riding Center?
The Sweet Briar stable is on our campus, approximately two miles away from the main quad. A van shuttles students back and forth, which allows them to ride between classes.
When is the riding center open?
Seven days a week: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends.
Who can ride?
We offer classes for beginners through advanced riders. There are several opportunities for serious show riders, but the majority of our students ride for fun to improve their riding skills and as a welcome break from their academic studies.
Do I have to pay for lessons? What do riding fees include?
Riding at Sweet Briar is part of the instructional program, so the cost of instruction is covered by your college tuition. Riding students who use college-owned horses purchase “blocks” of rides. This is basically a horse usage fee. Students usually use two rides a week for lessons and the remaining rides are used for independent riding, competitions or special activities.
Do I need my own equipment?
Students who ride college-owned horses need only their own boots and breeches or chaps. The school has some helmets available for introductory-level students to use. All tack is provided for college-owned horses. Private horse
owners need to bring their own equipment.
What are the college horses like?
The college owns about 45 talented and wellmannered horses of various levels to serve the diversity of riders and courses offered. Lower-level horses are known for their good temperament. Intermediate and advanced level horses are mostly warmbloods and thoroughbreds capable of higher quality performances. “Chinook,” “Love Z,” “Oh so Fine” and “Chasing Gold” are a few of our many upper level horses that have won ribbons and championships at shows such as; The Middleburg Classic, HITS Culpeper and Lake Placid. Instructors work with students to choose a horse that best suits their ability, personality and goals.
How can I get on a team?
Sweet Briar has five teams that riders may participate in throughout the school year. Tryouts for most teams are held the semester prior to their season with the exception of the IHSA team, which holds a tryout in the beginning of the fall semester. The teams are the IHSA team, the hunter show team, the jumper show team, the fall field riding team and the ANRC team.
What type of support do riders receive?
Sweet Briar’s five riding teams are supported on a varsity level. The IHSA, ANRC, ODAC and field team riders have their entry fees, shipping and travel expenses covered. Show team riders (hunter/jumper/equitation) have their hotel
rooms, shipping expenses, and the cost of stalls and shavings at three away-shows covered by the program. There is never a charge for shipping and training for SBC Independent competitors and team riders. The Cranmer fund
supports a range of enrichment programs for our students, and riders of any level are eligible to receive financial
assistance for their block ride fees through the Thompson, Neidlinger and Nelson funds.
How can I compete?
Our competitive riders participate in local through A-rated USEF/USHJA hunter/jumper competitions, collegiate competitions sponsored by the IHSA and ANRC associations and the ODAC conference, and in hunter trials and
hunter paces. If a student doesn’t make a team or does not have the time to commit to a team, she may still participate as an independent competitor.
Can I ride outside of class?
Yes! Students who demonstrate adequate riding ability and who know and obey our rules and regulations may sign up to ride independently on days that they do not have a lesson. Some students take this opportunity to practice what
they are learning in class, while others enjoy the trails with their friends.
What show opportunities are available for a rider who has ridden a lot but not competed? What about
the beginner rider?
For those riders who are interested in getting their competitive feet wet, a series of on-campus “intramural” horse shows are held that riders can progress through. The IHSA team also offers opportunities for riders from the beginning walk/trot level through the advanced open division.
Does Sweet Briar offer a degree in equine studies or equine business?
No. Sweet Briar does not offer these vocational degrees as they are not proven reliable credentials for entry into the “horse business.” Instead, we offer an equine studies certificate through which students gain hands-on experience and practical knowledge about the “professional” horse world with either a stable management or teaching/schooling
concentration, while pursuing a traditional college degree. Independent study projects, internships and collaboration between the riding program and other academic programs such as business and psychology allow students the opportunity to really customize their experience.
Can anyone bring a privately owned horse?
A student may bring her own horse to Sweet Briar if she demonstrates adequate riding ability, if the horse is suitable for the hunter- and jumper-oriented program, and if the student agrees to support the program’s rules and regulations. Because this is a private stable, riders do not compete with people outside the College for use of facilities. Students who board their own horses are not eligible for collegefunded need-based aid, but are still eligible for any federal need-based aid and any Sweet Briar merit scholarship for which they might qualify.
How much turnout is available, and what is the condition of paddocks?
There is plenty of room for turnout including more than 26 one-acre grassy, board-fenced paddocks, four smaller paddocks, and 13 large fields ranging from five to 15 acres. Horses are generally turned out individually for two hours
each morning, footing and weather permitting. Longer day turnout or overnight turnout is available for an extra fee.
What services do you offer to boarders?
Board includes two lessons each week, stall cleaning, feeding, blanketing, a daily inspection and picking of feet, and turning the horse out every day or lunging in poor weather. Additional services are available a la carte and include daily grooming, tack cleaning, trimming and mane pulling, and body clipping. For updated fees, please contact the riding center.
What activities are available just for fun?
Students of every level enjoy participating in the popular Halloween-themed games day, poker rides in the spring and fall, and weekend trail rides.