July 27, 2009 : By Liberty University News Service
As Liberty University’s club sports program continues to grow by leaps and bounds, its newest addition provides the perfect illustration. Beginning in August, members of LU’s 20th club team will have the opportunity to show off their sporting ability by leaping over various jumps and obstacles — on horseback.
Recently, the university inked a deal with Serene Creek Run Riding Center in Forest, Va., making the facility the official home of LU’s first equestrian team. A full-service equine center just outside of Lynchburg, Serene Creek features indoor and outdoor riding arenas, a 20-stall barn, five one-acre pastures and numerous trails.
Owner Crystal Rivers, an accomplished rider and horse trainer, will serve as the coach. Once established, the team will travel to weekend shows throughout the fall and winter, hosted by the Southwest Virginia Hunter Jumper Association (SWVHJA), Virginia Horse Shows Association (VHSA) and the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). The team will compete against Commonwealth schools such as the University of Virginia, James Madison University and Radford University, as well as non-collegiate riders. Competition categories will include hunter-jumper, three-day event, Western, English, fox hunting and dressage.
“I’m very excited to coach the team,” Rivers said. “It’ll put Liberty University on the map as far as equestrian schools are concerned.”
Serene Creek will provide team horses, but students are welcome to board their own animals there. Rivers said she will also train student-owned horses if team members wish to use them for competitions.
Apart from competitions, the team will learn disciplines useful to aspiring farmers and veterinarians, including equine science and farm management. Students can also earn their CSER hours through Serene Creek’s TRBC community group. During the eight-week course, team members can assist in teaching first-time riders proper riding techniques.
Once the club’s season begins, Rivers said the LU community is encouraged to show its support at competitions and observe the team during Wednesday night practices at Serene Creek.
Serene Creek Run Riding Center offers trail rides to LU student, alumni, faculty and staff groups for a minimal charge.