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.
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.
Matt brings 24 years of experience as a professional trainer, during which time he managed and taught at his own farm and at the University of Findlay. He has trained students of all levels and has qualified students for many prestigious competitions. When in college, Matt was the IHSA Open Equitation Over Fences National Champion. Matt also judges and gives back to the hunter/jumper community by being a Board member for several of their associations.
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.
Tamara grew up riding and showing in Virginia. She brings to Sweet Briar 19 years of professional and collegiate coaching experience. She has served as both coach and assistant coach to the Lynchburg College and Randolph College equestrian teams. She attended Southern Seminary College in Buena Vista, Va., and continued her education at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo. Tamara has trained several individuals and their horses with great success in SWVHJA, VHSA and USEF competitions, and also judges SWVHJA and VHSA shows.
Amie, stable manager, has been a part of the SBC riding program for more than eight years. She has a M.Ed. with a specialization in equine studies from Salem International University. An excellent judge of equine fitness, she ensures that our horses are in peak physical condition.
Contact Amie at [email protected].
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.