Highlights & High Points

Sweet Briar, a nationally acclaimed liberal arts and sciences college for women, has been a leader in the development of modern riding in the United States and has an international reputation for outstanding instruction and exceptional facilities.

The Riding Program gives you the opportunity to develop your equestrian skills while you pursue an exceptional liberal arts education.

Quality instruction enables even beginning riders to become confident recreational riders and successful competitors in a few short years. And, although competitions are an important part of our program, competing is not the final measure of achievement. It's one part of the process of training the rider and horse, and provides experiences that improve the work done day-to-day.

Scholars and Riders

At every level, riders have a variety of opportunities, with an emphasis in three major areas: hunter/jumper/equitation, training/schooling young horses, and hunter-oriented cross country.

An Equine Studies Certificate with concentrations in teaching and schooling, or management is also available. You can further enhance your knowledge in pre-veterinary courses, internships, and independent projects. Career-building leadership positions are available as teaching assistants, activity managers, and Riding Council members.

Equine Studies Certificate
The certificate program, with two separate concentrations - one in management and the second in teaching and schooling, features a strong liberal arts foundation combined with preparation for possible careers in equine-related enterprises such as farm and stable management and the teaching of riding.

The hunter/jumper/equitation program includes schooling the hunter and jumper and competition preparation. You'll develop an awareness of what is expected of the horse in a variety of settings through class work and competitive experiences. Your instructors emphasize developing a quality hunter or jumper through a combination of flatwork, gymnastics, and a range of courses.

Training/Schooling Young Horses
The program also focuses on schooling. You will train both on the flat and over fences. Instructional courses provide a systematic approach that applies to a range of horses and specialties. Sweet Briar integrates both green horses and reclaiming projects into the schooling program.

Hunter Oriented Cross Country
Instructors encourage you to hack out in Sweet Briar's fields and on the vast network of campus trails to learn to ride over uneven terrain. This develops confidence and relaxation in the rider and the horse.

At Sweet Briar, we pursue a thorough educational approach in preparation for hunter-oriented cross-country activities and competition. Students participate in trail rides, hunter trials, and hunter pace events. These activities offer pleasure and valuable variety away from the show ring. Many students enjoy riding to hounds with the Farmington, Keswick, and Bedford Hunts in Virginia.

Advanced/Independent Projects
Besides these main areas, advanced students may, with faculty assistance, choose special independent projects such as teaching, veterinary studies, the breeding industry, judging or management. If you're interested in pursuing a career in the horse industry or in another equine field, you may design a plan of study under the guidance of the Director of Riding. The College has an outstanding pre-veterinary/pre-med program, and excellent internships are available to strengthen your experiences. The Career Services Center works closely with you to develop a powerful resume and research career opportunities. The Director of Riding writes personal recommendations for those students completing Equine Studies Certificate concentration requirements.

Leadership Opportunities

Students in the Riding Program often seek to expand their knowledge and experience by serving as trail guides or in activity management positions such as horse show coordinator.

On-campus employment opportunities include weekend stable worker, tack cleaning, stall picking, office assistant and other jobs. You may also gain leadership skills through on-campus internships, student representative positions, or student teaching:


The Riding Center offers accessible, first-rate experiences to students interested in the equine industry. For example, an assistant to the stable manager coordinates labor and supplies for 60 horses in work, while also pursuing special projects in budgeting and management.

Riding Program Advisory Committee
The student/faculty Riding Program Advisory Committee presents a full calendar of events and is the voice of student opinion in Riding Center programs.

Riding Council
The student-run Riding Council lends spirit and leadership on a peer level to the entire program. Students lead the way in formulating and carrying out the policies, rules, and regulations of the Riding Program. Other Riding Council members help current riders improve and enjoy their riding, as well as teach new riders about the program.

Teaching Assistants
After completing the "Teaching Techniques" course, interested riders have the opportunity to become teaching assistants, working alongside an instructor with a group of lower-level riders. Assistants learn while getting hands-on experience. The next level up is "student teacher."

Riding Fellows Program
Riding fellowships, tailored to the needs and objectives of new riding teachers, are available for both SBC and non-SBC graduates. Riding fellows teach students at certain levels, receive mounted instruction, and participate in all of the lecture courses. Additional responsibilities vary depending on a fellow's interests, experience, and skills.