Bridgewater College’s Riding Program Perseveres

Despite SRA Cuts, New Home for Riders, Horses


Kasey Brown, class of 2023 (left), her horse Weston, and C.G. Warren, class of 2023 (right) greet a student’s dog at Simmons Sport Horses. The facility hosts Hat Trick Training LLC, which provides both individual lessons and coaching for the equestrian teams no longer under the umbrella of BC athletics.

Samantha Brooks, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va.: Following the adoption of Strategic Resource Allocation recommendations to sell the Bridgewater Equestrian Center and downsize to a single NCEA team, the Bridgewater Equestrian Club worked to ensure that all BC students interested in riding would have the opportunity to do so.

The news of the SRA recommendations last year rocked the campus. Many beloved professors and programs were cut, leaving the campus in a state of fear and sadness. 

“It was like a bomb went off in the BCEC. Everybody was shocked and devastated,” said Equestrian Club President Mary Monaco, ‘21 and current student in the MDMS. However, the equestrian program refused to be defeated.

Over the summer, Monaco worked to find a facility to house the new program, eventually settling on Simmons Sport Horses in Mount Solon, VA. 

“I toured a bunch of different facilities in the area that we could potentially ride at and one of them was Simmons Sport Horses,” said Monaco. “Jared is the owner, and he was very nice and welcoming and had a million ideas and was very excited about having us there.”

“It’s a really nice facility. It’s a bit newer, and it’s a lot more homey,” said senior Walter Robb, wgi us equestrian Club vice president. “It’s run by a family, so it has this sense of warmth and hominess.”

With the facilities taken care of, the club needed to find a trainer who could work with them to provide individual lessons and coach the IHSA, IDA, and VHSA teams. As a result, Melanie Vest, former assistant director of riding, who was laid off as a result of SRA cutbacks, started her own LLC, Hat Trick Training, to provide these services.

“She decided to take a chance on us, and she created Hat Trick Training, which now operates out of Simmons Sport Horses,” said Monaco. “She and Jared are working together to basically ensure that we have the opportunity to ride. It all came together really quickly.” 

There are still a lot of emotions surrounding the selling of the Equestrian Center. Many of the riders bonded with the horses there and seeing them go was not easy. 

“There were a lot of tears,” said Robb. “It definitely wasn’t easy at first, and it’s not great knowing I’ll probably never see my favorite horse, Romeo, again. But in the end what really matters is that they’re being taken care of in their new homes.”

The Bridgewater Equestrian Club will hold their first club meeting on Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. in McKinney 100.