Teachers & Scholars

Whether you're a recreational rider or a polished competitor, Sweet Briar's vigorous instructional program meets your riding goals. Our faculty are dedicated to providing a rewarding experience for every student.

More than 20 innovative courses combine lecture and discussion with mounted instruction based on the principles of modern forward riding/hunter seat equitation. Small classes average three to six students, while elective courses may also allow you to pursue independent work.

The Faculty

Merrilee D. “Mimi” Wroten ’93
Mimi is the director of the riding program and an instructor in riding. She taught and rode professionally in New Jersey before returning to Sweet Briar, her alma mater.

She is a U.S. Equestrian Federation ‘R’ judge, an American National Riding Commission recorded judge and holds the ANRC top rider rating. She enjoys teaching and training riders of all levels and coaches successfully at home and away competitions. While at Sweet Briar, she has coached the ANRC team, the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) team, the fall field team and the hunter show team.

Mimi believes that “positive coaching helps young women become strong competitors in sports — and in all aspects of life. By setting goals, working toward developing skills and schooling a horse, a rider acquires an understanding of the time, effort and dedication needed to achieve success. These principles can be applied to a student’s academic work as well as her future endeavors.”

Contact Mimi at [email protected].

Louise C. Goodling
Louise graduated from Hollins University in 1985 with a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. At Hollins, she rode on the intercollegiate riding team, participating in the national finals in 1982, and fox hunted regularly with Rockbridge Hunt. Louise has trained horses and riders professionally in Central Virginia for several decades and is an ANRC level 3 rated rider. She’s has had the privilege to work for two masters and earned her colors in 1992 with Middlebrook Hounds.

Louise finds great satisfaction in sharing her knowledge of horses and riding. She is an advocate of the American System of Forward Seat Riding because it is a systematic approach to teaching both riders and horses that prioritizes the horse’s best interest while teaching riders of all levels to ride at their best.

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Fisch
Lizzie joined Sweet Briar’s riding instruction staff in January 2013. She is a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, now Randolph College, where she majored in history and rode on the IHSA team.

Lizzie has been teaching, riding and managing in the equine business for more than 20 years. Her experience is diverse and multidisciplinary and features dressage and fox hunting with many packs, including the Shakerag and Midland Hounds. She was most recently the assistant trainer at a show barn in Atlanta, where she also coached two Interscholastic Equestrian Association teams to multiple championships.

Visiting master teachers and guest lecturers enrich the curriculum and provide additional role models. Olympic gold medalists Joe Fargis, Melanie Smith Taylor, Lendon Gray, Judy Richter, Patricia Heuckeroth, Scott Hofstetter, Mike Henaghan, Bernie Traurig and Scot Evans have led clinics and addressed Sweet Briar's riding community.