Lynchburg College and Sweet Briar partner on equestrian programs

Executive director Mimi Wroten (standing) has served Sweet Briar's riding program for 20 years.
Executive director Mimi Wroten (standing) has served Sweet Briar’s riding program for 20 years.

Lynchburg College and Sweet Briar College have agreed to collaborate and operate the equestrian programs from each college at the Harriett Howell Rogers Riding Center. Lynchburg President Kenneth R. Garren and Sweet Briar President Phillip C. Stone signed the agreement Friday morning in Stone’s office.

This collaborative effort will allow both colleges to grow their riding programs and continue providing athletic and educational equestrian experiences to students.

“I see this as just the first of many more collaborative opportunities between Lynchburg College and Sweet Briar College,” Garren said. LC has suggested a variety of ways that it can help Sweet Briar serve its students in the coming academic year, he said.

“I am pleased to embark upon this special collaboration with Lynchburg College,” Stone said. “President Garren and I have been friends for many years and we are both firm believers that small colleges must find creative ways to work together. We hope there will be additional opportunities in the future. We welcome the Lynchburg riding program to our campus.”

Mimi Wroten, a graduate of Sweet Briar who has served her alma mater’s riding program for the past 20 years, will be executive director of the facility and serve as the director of riding for both Sweet Briar and Lynchburg College. Additional staff members will work with students from both schools to provide one of the most comprehensive and well-rounded riding experiences offered to collegiate riders. Each school will field Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and American National Riding Commission teams, and students will have the opportunity to participate in local and in-house horse shows and clinics.

“The collaboration between both groups will allow the tradition and history of the forward system of riding to continue in a positive and long-lasting way,” Wroten said. “I am very proud to be able to educate students from Sweet Briar College and Lynchburg College at the Harriet H. Rogers Riding Center and can’t wait to start the year.”

Jon Waters, athletic director for Lynchburg College, and Wroten conceptualized the collaboration as a way to support Sweet Briar’s riding program while allowing LC’s program to grow.

“This opportunity provides both colleges with a chance to serve students and the Central Virginia equine community in an incredible way moving forward,” Waters said. “The riding center and grounds at Sweet Briar have been such a sanctuary and proving ground for riding for decades. It is truly a special place that has played such a significant role in the development of collegiate riding in the United States.”

“Mimi and I have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy working together over the past few months, and I have been inspired by her commitment to students and horses, as well as her overall determination. She is an incredible leader,” Waters said. “Mimi and her staff have a proven track record of success in developing riders at all levels and challenging them to grow both in the classroom and in the barn.”

About the Harriet Howell Rogers Riding Center

The riding center is named for Harriet Howell Rogers, who became the first director of riding at Sweet Briar College in 1924. The facility includes the Robin S. Cramer Hall, which is one of the largest indoor college arenas in the nation at 120 feet by 300 feet. It is large enough to accommodate group classes simultaneously with lessons for independent riders. Other amenities in the hall include a public address system for shows and demonstrations and a quality sound system that provides music for recreational riding.

Three spacious outdoor rings complement the indoor facilities, along with an enclosed lunging ring, more than seven teaching and schooling fields, and miles of trails and other fields on the 3,250-acre campus. Recently, the footing in the lighted outdoor ring was replaced with state-of-the-art footing. Riders also enjoy a hunter trials course, fence lines with coops, and a complete inventory of hunter-jumper fences suitable for USEF competitions.

More information about the Harriet Howell Rogers Riding Center can be found here.