View Full Version : Virginia Tech Equestrian Team

Apr. 1, 2012, 10:25 PM
Hi all! I have decided to attend Virginia Tech in the fall, and I'm just looking for some more information on the riding team.

I heard that first semester freshman aren't even allowed to try out for the team? Is this really true? If so how did you keep up with your riding that first semester?

Secondly, I saw on the website that you have to be in a specific class to ride. What is this exactly? Like do you have to be a part of the class for every semester you're on the team? This part really confuses me haha.

Also any comments on the quality of the team/coaches/horses would be appreciated!

Apr. 2, 2012, 10:52 AM
CenterStage, you might want to check out the VT Equestrian website for more info; they might have answers to your questions there or you can email them directly. I think you may be much more likely to get quick, accurate answers there rather than waiting on the off chance that a current VT student will see your post. http://www.equestrian.org.vt.edu/

I rode at another school in VT's region when I was in school and worked for one of their trainers when I was in college. They have a very nice, recently opened facility. I know they just sent some of their horses to Zones this year and the handful of horses I have seen first hand are pretty nice for schoolies :) Good luck next year and Go Hokies!

Apr. 2, 2012, 01:49 PM
I knew a lot more about this a few years ago so things may have changed but as far as I know you have to be an animal science degree seeking student with an equine science major OR any type of degree seeking student in any dept with an equine science minor. Like a major in accounting with a minor in equine studies. It because there are SO many students and so many that are interested in riding. The tryouts are really competitive because of this as well. At VT, riding classes count towards your major so yes, you do have to be enrolled in an actual class in order to ride, whether or not you are on the team.

I think the freshman part is right too although I transferred in as a junior so Im not 100% certain.

There are a million and a half ways to keep up your riding in Blacksburg without being on the teams. The riding to $$$ ratio wasnt worth it to me so I spent less money and took frequent lessons and catch rode at private stables in the area. There are a lot of working student opportunities if you can ride well and plenty of private lessons/showing opportunities even if you dont have your own horse.

It would be best to contact someone directly though

Apr. 5, 2012, 10:57 AM
When I went to VT, your first semester of freshman year you needed special exception to be a part of the team. (I believe that the exception was only made because there were not enough open riders).

Speaking from experience, the amount of time and money it cost to be a part of the riding team at Virginia Tech was not worth it in the long run (at least for me). 12 years ago, it was $450 a semester to be a part of the team and you needed to take a riding class that was an hour long off campus in the middle of the day twice a week (figure that you need about 3 hours total to get your horse from the field, groom, tack up, lesson, untack, cool out, turn out, drive back to campus, park, etc.). If you take 16-18 credits a semester it is very difficult to fit in a riding class with all of your credits and labs. Also, they give priority to animal science majors (at least they did when I was a student). Now you also have to be a part of the equestrian club, as well and you have to take part in fundraising and group activities on the weekdays and weekends.

I was a part of the team for one semester before I decided it wasn't worth it for me. I decided it was more conducive to bring my horses to school to a barn off campus and ride on my own free time and horse show with my own trainer at the Lexington Horse Center on the weekends. The Lexington Horse Center is not far from VT and they hold horse shows all the time.

Apr. 6, 2012, 02:24 PM
I do not have any first hard input regarding the VT team but this seems to be a bit of a rip off.
I compete with my own university, a much smaller one, and the fee to ride is only $200(includes some merchandise) a year for non-equine studies students plus class fees. The team captains are purposely unaware of your major come tryouts, and if you are really good/show distinct potential..you make one of the two teams regardless of year/major. Also, the 80 horses available to ride are located on campus, in a beautiful barn with great trainers. Our team does do a lot of fundraising and we do spend a majority of our weekends with each other, but our riders always go to nationals successfully.

So.. I know the team is very accomplished, but I wouldn't be so quick to join without checking what else is in the area.:yes:

Apr. 9, 2012, 05:25 PM
CenterStage123, CONGRATS! Deciding to become a HOKIE was the best decision I made in high school. :) I hope you love your years in Blacksburg as much as I did.

Definitely check out the VT Equestrian Club website for info on the club, riding program and teams. I'd also recommend you email Coach Sherri Willis West (slwillis@vt.edu) to schedule a visit to learn more about the program and possibly watch a lesson if you can get down there before the end of April.

I rode on VT's equestrian team from 2000 to 2004. A lot has changed since then. The horses donated to VT are significantly nicer today and the facility now includes a heated indoor arena. The barn is technically on campus, but it's across 460 so you'll need a car to get over there or you can arrange to carpool with someone else riding at the same time. You cannot board your own horse at VT's barn. You need to be enrolled in an equitation class through the APSC department in order to be eligible to compete on the IHSA and IDA teams. You ride 2x/week in lessons (Mon-Wed or Tues-Thurs and the horses have Fri-Sun off unless there is a team practice). Unless it's changed one of those days was a flat only lesson and the other day was jumping. It's true that priority is given to APSC majors but I was able to get into a riding class every semester of my college career without issue. Don't be discouraged if your not an APSC major. You can still get in.

The lesson program is designed to prepare riders for IHSA and IDA shows. You won't ride the same horse every week. We usually swapped horses during our lessons so you'd end up riding 3-4 per lesson instead of 1. You'd jump a course and swap horses. If you missed badly or made a mistake there was no circling, starting over or trying again. You got off and hopped on the next horse. This was great practice for the IHSA show format where you ride an unfamiliar horse in unfamiliar tack around a course without so much as a trot step prior to entering the show ring. It's not for everyone though. If you'd prefer to ride the same horse every week and focus on preparing that horse for shows VT's program is probably not the best fit for you. Keep in mind that the horses are donations. Most were donated because they're older and moving down the levels or had "issues" that prevented them from being show horses. Some are A show quality but many are not. They are school horses. Don't be surprised if you rarely jump 3' in lessons and always practice simple changes. Neither are needed for IHSA shows. Also, unless things have changed most of VT's horses live out on the weekends. The winters in Blacksburg are cold so they'll be blanketed but will still have furry coats. Grooming before and after your lesson can take a while so make sure to schedule a buffer into your class schedule.

I feel like I've written a novel already.

I have to call out one last thing though... the friendships! The girls and guys in the Equestrian Club helped make my college experience as amazing as it was. We rode together, studied together, partied together and became such incredible friends. Anticipation mentioned that she only rode one semester at VT, but we were friends all the way through graduation. :) My bridesmaids at my wedding were all VT equestrians. If you decide to ride at VT I promise you will come away with so many amazing memories and hilarious stories... and you'll learn a thing or two about riding and horsemanship too! I still admire Coach T and Coach Sherri for dedicating so many hours of their lives to the program and the riders. They are both amazing women and I'm so lucky to call them friends.


(... and if you decide the riding program is not for you, there are plenty of barns in Blacksburg where you can ride or bring your own horse. Definitely plan on attending the first Equestrian Club meeting of the year though!)

Apr. 10, 2012, 09:38 AM
I do not have any first hard input regarding the VT team but this seems to be a bit of a rip off.

I should clarify: If I could have afforded riding on the team AND riding privately, I would have. Riding on the VT team would have been far from a "rip off" I just wanted to ride more than 2x a week.

However, in hindsight, having 2 professionally taught lessons on good quality horses each week probably would have been better than riding 4-5 times alone on lesser quality and mostly green horses at the private stables in the area.

Priority is given to equine majors because these classes COUNT towards your degree so your major is known when you try out. But, like FarnleyGarnet said, you can still get in. Sure, its is a bit expensive but the equine program is connected to the actual University and has to be revenue generating to support the other areas of the College of Ag or at least break even to avoid being cut.

Apr. 10, 2012, 10:23 AM
What FarnleyGarnet said.

BTW FarnleyGarnet...I graduated in 2002, rode 2000-2002. I bet we know each other :)

Apr. 10, 2012, 10:28 AM
I don't have first hand knowledge of the ins and outs, but VT was in my IDA/IHSA region. The had nice horses (loved when we needed some more and they'd bring one or two), competitive, well trained riders, and a close knit team.

Personally $450 a semester is really not that bad. 2 lessons (minimum) a week for approx. 12 weeks comes to just over $35 /lesson with some really nice horses, a great facility, and quality instruction. Honestly I can't remember what it was where I went, but that is far from a rip off in my book.

Apr. 11, 2012, 04:04 PM
What FarnleyGarnet said.

BTW FarnleyGarnet...I graduated in 2002, rode 2000-2002. I bet we know each other :)

We do! :)
In fact, you were nice enough to meet me outside West AJ and drive me to and from the barn a bunch my first semester at VT.

Apr. 11, 2012, 06:58 PM
I am a current student at VT and am not on the team. I chose to bring my green bean 3yr old welsh up here instead and board him.

There really are not any other trainers in this area that I would really want to pay for lessons with (if you want hunter lessons) so if you don't have your own horse the riding team is a great option!

If you have your own horse come board at Paris Mountain! It's beautiful and occassionally JT Talon was coming to teach lessons!

Apr. 12, 2012, 08:43 AM

There really are not any other trainers in this area that I would really want to pay for lessons with (if you want hunter lessons)

Have you tried other trainers?

There are other capable, talented, and professional "hunter" trainers in this area. If you want suggestions, you can PM me.

Apr. 12, 2012, 05:30 PM
We do! :)
In fact, you were nice enough to meet me outside West AJ and drive me to and from the barn a bunch my first semester at VT.

Ah ha! Got it :D You must forgive my slowness. This wind has blown all of my brain cells out of my head.