Expanded Liberty Equestrian Center hosts weekend event
July 31, 2016 | Rustburg, Va.
Liberty University riders captured team and individual medals in Saturday's and Sunday's equestrian competition of the 2016 Virginia Commonwealth Games, the first official event to be held in Liberty's newly expanded Equestrian Center arenas.
The show, which featured collegiate, youth, and open divisions in the Hunter Seat and Western disciplines of the sport, was sanctioned by the Virginia Horse Shows Association and the Southwest Virginia Hunter Jumper Association. It was one of more than 60 events in this year's Commonwealth Games, hosted and sponsored by Liberty.
Showcasing the new 120-foot by 300-foot indoor and outdoor riding rings, the horse show took place in both the indoor and outdoor arenas simultaneously over a period of a day and a half.
"The local hunter/jumper community was supportive of the event, with about 50 horses showing up for the weekend," said Jim Arrigon, Liberty's executive director for equestrian programs. "Everyone left happy and said they would return again."
Pete Lampman, president of Virginia Amateur Sports, Inc., and the Commonwealth Games, presented awards for the two classic events. Among the spectators were the athletic directors for both Randolph College and Lynchburg College as well as Merrilee Wroten, director of the riding program at Sweet Briar College.
"It seems everyone wanted a look," Arrigon said.
The gold medal winner in the team competition was Liberty's Team One, which included Kendall Burdette, a sophomore from Baltimore, riding "Howard," owned by Liberty; Zoe Lepke, a sophomore from Richmond, Va., riding "George," owned by Jim and Gwen Arrigon; and Emily Chafins, a sophomore from Columbus, Ohio, riding "Denny," owned by the Arrigons.
Liberty senior team captain Cassandra Steptoe, from Bristol, Tenn., was the top individual winner as champion of the Hunter Classic, riding "Remington," also owned by the Arrigons.
Construction continues at the Liberty Equestrian Center, located in Campell County on the other side of Liberty Mountain from the main campus. There will be some follow-up work done on the indoor arena while structural progress is made on the new team barn next door. That facility, when finished on Sept. 1, will house 24 horses and include team locker rooms, a team meeting room, and workout and study space for the student-athletes.
Liberty's equestrian program will hold open tryouts for any full-time student from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, and will begin practice the following week. Both teams open their seasons on Sept. 17, with the Western team traveling to St. Andrews University while the Hunter Seat team makes its debut in the national level Tournament of Champions event at Goucher College in Baltimore.