Welcome

Looking for a college where you feel at home on Day 1? That’s what happens for riders here.

Great horses. Passionate instructors and coaches. A riding center that sets the standard for collegiate programs. All in one extraordinary landscape.

We’ve got the complete package at Sweet Briar — and it makes ours the best equestrian program of any liberal arts college in the country.

Are you a competitive rider? We’re one of just a few colleges in the nation to offer both an NCEA equestrian team and an IHSA equestrian team.

Are you a field rider? We have 18 miles of spectacular trails winding through our 3,250-acre campus.

A beginner? We love them. We’ve got the horses and instructors to launch you on a lifetime of horsemanship.

Want to run a horse-related business? With classes in horse training and our interdisciplinary equine study certificates, you’ll have a big toolkit of skills you can take into horse farm management or teaching and schooling.

We know why you love to ride.

Riding matters deeply at Sweet Briar. We believe horsewomen have remarkable tenacity and discipline, with a sense of selflessness to match. It’s no coincidence that horsewomen go on to be such effective leaders.

Sweet Briar riders become your second family.

You’ll meet many different kinds of riders at Sweet Briar — with many different plans in mind for after graduation.

But whether you’re competing at a national level or you’re a weekend rider, you’ll all share a love for horses that unites you in ways you never thought possible.

It’s the kind of community that’s hard to keep to yourself. In fact, it’s not unusual for the roommates of riders to tag along on a practice day — and end up on one of our riding teams.

Areas of Focus

Competition

Makayla Benjamin '18Through a combination of flatwork and gymnastics, our program emphasizes the development of a horse for hunter/jumper/equitation competitions. The curriculum includes theory and history of the forward system of riding. Riders learn what is expected of horse and rider in a variety of settings through classwork and competitive experiences.

Recreation

Sweet Briar has much to offer students who wish to ride primarily for enjoyment, recreation or fitness. Riders can improve their partnership with the horse by refining their aids in the ring, enjoy a quiet hack across campus, or don a costume for a Halloween-themed show of fun and games.

Training/Schooling Horses

For riders interested in training concepts, this program emphasizes schooling and re-schooling horses. Schooling classes start with groundwork and natural horsemanship, then progress from there using a systematic approach to both flatwork and jumping to develop skills that are applicable to a range of horses and specialties.

Field Riding

From relaxing walk-and-talks to exhilarating foxhunting, field riding has always been integral to Sweet Briar’s program — and to the foundation of modern-day hunter/jumper riding. Field riding builds partnership and trust between horse and rider, appreciation for the environment and the natural beauty that surrounds us, and fellowship between people from various backgrounds who enjoy the freedom of riding across the countryside.

Riders develop confidence as they explore Sweet Briar’s campus and spectacular trails — our outdoor classroom. For all riders, there are ample opportunities to hack out and participate in hunter paces and hunter trials. Advanced field riders may have the chance to experience an actual hunt with a local club such as the Bedford County Hunt, Farmington Hunt Club and Oak Ridge Fox Hunt Club.

Equine-facilitated Leadership

Sweet Briar Riding is incorporating Equine Facilitated Leadership (EFL) into its curriculum. Instructors will be following the Epala® Model of Equine Facilitated Coaching. EFL is primarily non-mounted work that relies on the horses’ instantaneous response to humans’ physiology and body language in order to teach awareness. This work requires no previous experience with horses.

Equine Studies Certificate

The certificate program is similar to a minor degree. It offers two separate concentrations — management, and teaching and schooling. The program combines a strong liberal arts foundation with preparation for a potential career in equine-related enterprises such as farm/stable management, horse show management and/or training and teaching.

Many riders deepen their knowledge through pre-veterinary courses, internships and independent projects. Students can choose an on-campus position such as teaching assistant or trail guide to gain leadership experience.