SBC stables

In this December 2015 file photo, then Sweet Briar student Makayla Benjamin rides next to the college's stables. 

Sweet Briar College has announced philanthropist Richard C. Colton Jr. recently gave $1 million to support renovation of the college’s stables, which will be named the Howell Lykes Colton ’38 Stables in honor of his mother.

Sweet Briar started its formal riding program around 1920 and two years ago it competed in the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championship for the first time. Also that year, SBC graduate Makayla Benjamin won the USEF/Cacchione Cup, which recognizes the nation’s best collegiate rider. In April 2019 the team made history by competing beyond the opening round of the NCEA National Championship for the first time.

In November 2019 the Sweet Briar team was ranked ninth over fences in the initial NCEA Rankings, alongside powerhouse schools like the University of Auburn, the University of Georgia, Baylor University, Texas A&M and Texas Christian University.

“At Sweet Briar, one third of our students identify as riders, whether for competition or recreation,” Sweet Briar President Meredith Woo said in a news release. “Their participation in the program helps them learn lessons of perseverance, discipline and teamwork.”

Mimi Wroten, director of the riding program, joined Woo in thanking Colton for the gift.

“The renovation of our stables will allow us to continue the legacy of providing exceptional horse care and a superior experience for riders of all levels,” Wroten said in the release.

Howell Lykes Colton, Colton’s mother and a member of the Sweet Briar Class of 1938, served as the student head riding.

Colton’s donation will enhance Sweet Briar’s ability to cultivate scholar-athletes who are accomplished leaders and supportive team members — and to maintain a nationally-ranked program that attracts top riders, instructors and trainers, according to the college’s release.

“To this day, my mother’s life and what she did with Sweet Briar has definitely impacted us,” Colton said in the release. “We really admired Sweet Briar. Being part of its comeback is honoring my mother and has been a wonderful part of my life. Also, Sweet Briar is really well-known for its riding and I want to help keep it up. I’m satisfied to be able to help.”

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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