Thursday, October 23, 2014

Equestrian Center grows

Activities such as trail rides and riding lessons are available to students

In a continued effort to offer state-of-the-art facilities, Liberty University opened an Equestrian Center last year that allows students to participate in various horse-related activities.

According to its website, the Equestrian Center features more than 30 acres of pastures, an outdoor arena and a barn. The facility offers boarding for student horses as well as lessons and trail rides for all Liberty students.

Loveable — Corinne Giobbie, an Equestrian Center staff member, tends to many of the horses boarded there. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Caroline Trexler, the barn manager, has been involved with the center since the planning and development stage and continues to be involved with the barn’s day-to-day chores.

According to Trexler, the staff usually starts their mornings between 5:45 and 8 a.m., feeding the horses their specific feed and supplements as well as administering any necessary medications.

“I have enjoyed working with horses since I was 5 years old in a variety of capacities and have always enjoyed the opportunity to learn and grow as an equestrian and in turn to translate that knowledge, time and effort to a horse or riding student,” Trexler said. “Seeing the reflection of that investment, be it humbling or encouraging, is just so much fun.”

The Equestrian Center also provides opportunities for riders of all levels of experience to enjoy a range of activities, such as English and western lessons, trail rides, recreation riding or visits to the animals.

Joelle Cole, a senior at Liberty, said that she recently had the opportunity to go on one of the free trail rides offered for Liberty students by the center.

“I learned the two different types of horseback riding and how to make the horse turn left and right, as well as to start and stop walking,” Cole said. “I had never been horseback riding before, so this was a new and slightly scary experience, being high up on a horse. … I loved riding up and down the hills and looking out at the mountains in the distance.”

“The range of opportunities and availabilities combined with affordability and a welcoming and friendly barn environment is entirely unique, and we have a blast,” Trexler said.

The Student Activities website also notes that, in addition to equestrian activities, the new facility has played host to Liberty’s fall festivals for the last two years. Michael Marrotte, a sophomore at Liberty, said that he attended the festival last fall with his friends.

“It was a pretty fun experience. We got to paint some pumpkins and got some free food, and it was cool listening to Dogwood & Holly, who was playing there,” Marrotte said. “It was just a good time of hanging out and enjoying the fall season. … It was nice to be out in nature and to get away from the books and computers and stuff.”

“I think it is a wonderful asset for Liberty students to be able to take time away from campus and enjoy God’s beauty,” Cole said.

According to its website, the Equestrian Center’s barn includes eight rubber-matted stalls with attached runs, grooming stalls, an indoor wash rack with hot and cold water, an outdoor wash rack, a heated student lounge and tack room with a washer and dryer, a feed room and men’s and women’s restrooms.

As the barn continues to receive more attention, Trexler hopes that new opportunities will arise.

“At this point, I would love to see the Equestrian Center grow by adding additional staff and expanded facilities so we can accommodate more students as riders and boarders,” Trexler said.

Any student can visit the facility to enjoy a trail ride, take a lesson or spend time with the available school horses. Students wishing to schedule a visit can go to the Student Activities office or email studentactivitiesinfo@liberty.edu.

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