Hands-on Training at Virginia Intermont

At Virginia Intermont College, showing on the college team is fun, but the real emphasis is on the school's excellent curriculum combining liberal arts courses with real-life vocational training designed to prepare students for careers in the horse industry.
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At Virginia Intermont College, showing on the college team is fun, but the real emphasis is on the school's excellent curriculum combining liberal arts courses with real-life vocational training designed to prepare students for careers in the horse industry.

Whenever students begin the search for a college equestrian program, the first thing on their minds tends to be concerns about riding and showing opportunities: How many horses? How many riding classes per week? Is there a team? How large is it? How often do they show? Do they win? Even though we compare very favorably in each of these areas, at Intermont our focus is not primarily on riding and showing. We are a college offering a comprehensive educational program specifically designed to give students real skills that will help them to succeed as equine professionals.

Over half of our 150 equine studies students participate on our Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), International Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IIHSA), Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Dressage Association (IDA) and/or Affiliated National Riding Commission (ANRC) teams. In addition to team competitions, our students host schooling and rated shows, and they attend schooling and USA Equestrian-rated shows using their own horses or those provided by the college. The riding teams at Intermont receive a great deal of financial support from the college including team and individual membership fees for the IHSA, IIHSA, IDA and the ANRC, team practices, transportation to and from shows, coaches' fees, travel expenses, including airfare, hotel fees and meals.

Intermont has a string of more than 75 high-quality school horses housed in 100-plus stalls, two indoor arenas, one outdoor arena, hot- and cold-water wash racks, a cross-country course and lots of turnout in the form of cross-fenced paddocks-all located on the 135-acre riding facility eight miles from main campus.

Despite these wonderful features, the greatest source of pride at Intermont is a curriculum that is a combination of the best of college liberal arts and science courses plus real-life, hands-on vocational training. We offer premier undergraduate courses in equine nutrition, and lessons learned in these classes carry over to the barn, which is why Intermont has a colic rate that is well below average for a barn this size. Intermont's equine faculty of college-educated, extensively experienced riders and trainers oversee our stable management, show management and schooling and training programs. And they are tough taskmasters. No matter how minor the task may seem, if it isn't done right it is done over until it is right.

Intermont is by no means a glorified show barn. We are here to teach the business of show management, stable management, teaching and schooling or to prepare you for graduate-level education in veterinary medicine or other equine science fields.

It is not an easy program. It demands a lot of the students mentally and physically and requires a great deal of time. You have to really love this kind of work or you don't make it here or in the real world after you graduate. It is not for everyone, but then neither is the horse industry. It is definitely a labor of love.

Eddie Federwisch is an assistant professor and director of equine studies at the Virginia Intermont College Riding Center.