Emory & Henry takes over Virginia Intermont's equestrian program

Rick Wagner • Jun 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM

BRISTOL, Va. — A nationally recognized horse program will live on despite the demise of the college that operated it for four decades.

Emory & Henry College announced Tuesday it is taking over the Virginia Intermont equestrian operation and facilities, to be known as Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College.

VI shut down in May amid financial problems.

In making the announcement, E&H President Jake Schrum said that the Emory, Va.-based college is proud to be able to carry on the 40-year tradition established by the nationally celebrated equestrian program.

"We are excited to be adding to Emory & Henry's national reputation for excellence a program that has earned stellar recognition for excellence in equestrian competition," Schrum said in a news release.

The horse announcement was made at the state-of-the-art riding center previously used by VI.

E&H has taken over the lease of the center, which is located on 129 acres of rolling pasture land north of Bristol and owned by Don and Etta Nicewonder.

Emory & Henry is recruiting current Virginia Intermont students and new students to the competitive riding program, which has won 17 national championships, most recently in April.

The college has hired three former VI employees to serve as faculty members and coaches for the program, as well as eight staff members formerly with VI.

The college also has acquired VI's horses and equipment.

In addition, E&H is applying to its regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), for approval to offer Virginia Intermont's academic equine studies program, which prepares students to work in many areas of the horse industry through coursework that combines science, equestrian management and riding instruction.

"This academic program, which will provide opportunities for both scientific student research and pre-professional training, fits well into the E&H curriculum, which encourages both undergraduate research and real-world experience," said Dave Haney, vice president for academic affairs at E&H. "In addition, the quality of teaching that comes with this program is consistent with the high quality of teaching offered at Emory & Henry."

Patty Thiers, a former VI professor working at E&H, said she is excited that the VI program has found a new home with E&H.

"We look forward to carrying on the tradition, utilizing the same faculty, facilities and horses that have contributed to the program's success," Thiers said.

Bristol, Tenn.-based King University recently announced it was becoming the depository for VI student transcripts.

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