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bigeqmom
May. 4, 2009, 09:26 PM
I've searched the forum for more information about IHSA, NCAA, and colleges; however, it is all very confusing! :eek:

I am hoping that by posting this I will be able to receive some clarification. My DD is a junior in high school, has a 4.0 GPA, competes at the national level in the big eq, and trains with a BNT. Now that we've been looking into colleges, she's expressed an interest in a college with a top equestrian program. She originally had her mind set on attending an ivy league university with a major in economics; therefore, academics are very important to her. Additionally, she would like a college equestrian program that competes at the top levels in hunt seat, as well.

We would like to know the following:

1. what is the difference between IHSA vs. NCAA?
2. which organization seems to recruit the "top" riders?
3. which university seems to have "top" coaches?
4. what quality are the horses and riders in the programs?
5. is my DD able to bring her own horse?

I am sure there will be more questions to come.

TIA! :D

make x it x so
May. 4, 2009, 09:34 PM
I can't answer all of these questions, but the difference between IHSA and NCAA is that NCAA is more equivalent to a varsity team- it is much more intense and coaches will actually recruit for NCAA teams. I have heard that most colleges with NCAA teams discourage riders from bringing their own horses because they need to devote the time to training on the college horses, and the schedule can be extremely rigorous. Also, I heard (but cannot confirm) that you are only allowed to do a limited number of shows (like...regular USEF shows) outside of school per year while still being eligible for NCAA.

IHSA seems a lot more laid back, from what I know, but can still be quite competitive depending on where you go.

On the east coast (where I live) you will generally find more competitive schools in the middle-southern states (VA, NC, etc.).

Being a high school senior myself, that's about all I really know. I have decided to attend a local university that just has a club/IHSA team because I'd like to keep my own horse, and to be honest, I know I will not be a professional in the industry and I'm more concerned about having fun than making myself known to the horse world and winning in steep competition.

Best of luck to both you and your daughter!

hj0519
May. 4, 2009, 10:32 PM
NCAA is a 'head-to-head' format. Two teams will compete, with one rider from each team competing against each other. The two riders from each team that are "paired" will both ride the same horse. They get a numerical score, the team that's rider has the higher score gets a point. There's both jumping and flat - jumping will be a regular eq course. The jumps are higher in NCAA - they're supposed to be 3'6", I think? In the flat, you ride a flat pattern that's sort of like a dressage test. Same thing as jumping - you and the other team's rider both ride the same horse, you get a numerical score, the higher score gets a point for the team. The team with the most wins at the end of the day wins the competition. Riders also get a timed warm up on the horse. NCAA recruits top riders. Many have been saying lately that if you are not a top rider, you aren't going to get recruited. NCAA teams are varsity teams - meaning they can be more intense and can involve a lot more time.

IHSA format is more similar to a regular horse show with over fences classes as well as normal flat classes. All the teams in the region will compete at the same shows, it's not just two teams against each other. There are divisions for every level (walk-trot, walk-trot-canter, novice, intermediate, and open). One rider in each class for each team is the designated "point rider" and the points they get (7 for first, 5 for second, 3, 4, 2, 1) will go towards the team's total score at that competition. At the end of the day, the team with the highest score wins. Riders can also compete individually and not as the "point rider" to qualify for regionals/zones/nationals as an individual. In order to qualify as an individual, you must earn 35 points, which will make you "point out" of your division and qualify you for Regionals. At Regionals, the top placings (depends on the region/zone how many riders) will go onto Zones, and at Zones the top placings will go onto Nationals. Throughout the regular show season, the teams accumulate points at every show through their point riders, and at the end of the regular show season the team that has the most points will go on to compete at Zones as a team. The jump heights for IHSA are smaller than NCAA. Riders get no warm up at all.

Coaching will vary. There are IHSA teams with very good coaches and very good riding facilities and horses. There are IHSA teams with not as great coaches/facilities/horses. Quality will vary. Some schools have amazing riding facilities (such as Mount Holyoke) and some schools have much smaller programs that are run out of facilities not owned by the school. Competition will also vary in IHSA depending on what region/zone you're in. There are also teams that are considered varsity at their school but compete in IHSA and not NCAA.

Your daughter can generally bring her own horse. Some schools have long waiting lists for stalls or "applications" for the horse if you want to board them, other schools ride out of local barns and you can try to get a stall there if she wants the horse to herself, there are also schools where she can lease her horse to school and it would be used in the program for team practices, which she may not want because would want it to herself but the upside of putting her horse in the program would be not having to pay for it during the school year.

juniormom
May. 5, 2009, 02:44 AM
You will see many big eq names in the NCAA and IHSA. It depends on what your daughter wants out of the experience. Girls like Emily Williams and Whitney Roper have won the IHSA finals. One of the biggest differences is that in the NCAA you are unable to accept any competition money you win at any horseshow, including your own horse or repaying for your entries or stalls. The NCAA does recruit and you may get a scholarship, but will be expected to act as any other NCAA recruit. However, the IHSA teams can also involve a lot of time. This depends on where the barns are located, how much your daughter wants to ride, etc. You will be expected to help with fund raising, etc., but may show your own horse at additional shows, etc.

I would recommend that your daughter pick the school she likes the most for academics, etc. and then work on the riding. She can always board close by and not miss this short 4 year school experience. The IHSA teams have all levels of riders and your daughter may compete individually, as well as on a team. The best thing for her to get an accurate picture of the riding is to speak with the kids at any school she is considering attending. As in any other situation, there are good schools, good coaches, etc. and some not so good ones!

You might wish to go to something like the college bound invitational in Gainesville, Florida in order to get an idea of the NCAA shows. They just had the IHSA Nationals in Tenn. and the NCAA finals in Texas.

Good luck with your hunting! There are several other threads on these boards about NCAA and IHSA.

2DaPoint
May. 5, 2009, 07:18 AM
ummm.... the Varsity Equestrian National Championships (NCAA) were held in Waco, TEXAS. Not Oklahoma. (speaking a bit harshly as a Texan...... sorry)

Other than that, OP, you've been given some really excellent information.

In addition, the NCAA teams at each particular school seem to be a good bit smaller and more selective than the IHSA teams.
NCAA team members must be of the highest level of riding only.
IHSA has divisions at all levels of riding, so tend to be more accessible.

Past that, it really will be more about what your daughter wants from her college experience.
NCAA teams have "practice" whereas more of the IHSA schools also offer Equine Degrees and riding will become one of the curricular classes.
And, as others have suggested, your daughter will get to ride her own horse more often. (but certainly NOT at the NCAA/IHSA shows!)
Best of luck,
KD

Mayaty02
May. 5, 2009, 07:31 AM
Definitely recommend she pick the schools she likes academically, socially and by location, then work out the riding piece. Riding in college is very different than what she's doing right now and once she gets there, she may decide she'd rather just ride and show her own horse. I personally rode in the IHSA after doing the big eq and I wasn't challenged, didn't like the quality of horses (and I am no horse snob, I rode a greenie that I trained up from children's hunters to the big eq) and just didn't find it fun, so I only rode in college my freshman year. It wouldn't have changed where I ultimately went for college because I loved my school but if I had chosen a school just for the riding program, I probably would have had to transfer.

slp
May. 5, 2009, 08:48 AM
Definitely recommend she pick the schools she likes academically, socially and by location, then work out the riding piece. Riding in college is very different than what she's doing right now and once she gets there, she may decide she'd rather just ride and show her own horse. I personally rode in the IHSA after doing the big eq and I wasn't challenged, didn't like the quality of horses (and I am no horse snob, I rode a greenie that I trained up from children's hunters to the big eq) and just didn't find it fun, so I only rode in college my freshman year. It wouldn't have changed where I ultimately went for college because I loved my school but if I had chosen a school just for the riding program, I probably would have had to transfer.

Great advice. For any athlete in any sport, they need to ask themselves the question "if I can't do my sport anymore would I still want to go to school here?".
An advantage of being recruited for a NCAA team is that the admissions process becomes very smooth; coaches will get the ok from the admissions department (to make sure that the potential recruit is within or close to their general academic profile) before making that student an offer and often that admission is assured before the student has even filled out the application forms in the fall of senior year. I know kids that were amazing athletes that didn't get into their dream school after the coach had been courting them for a long time because they had lousy grades and test scores and they couldn't get them past the admissions department.
If there is even a remote interest in any of the schools that have NCAA varsity teams, go to that schools athletic department website and fill out the "potential recruit" questionnaire that is available on about 99% of their sites. She will also need to register at the NCAA Clearinghouse in the spring of junior year.https://web1.ncaa.org/eligibilitycenter/student/index_student.html If she is going to be a senior this upcoming year, do it NOW. Coaches are already actively recruiting for the class of 2010, some are already recruiting for the class of 2011. You can see which teams have NCAA teams (although not all on the list actually compete NCAA, some chose to go IHSA) at www.varsityequestrian.com and you can research the profiles of any of these schools at www.collegeboard.com. You can find the full lists of schools with IHSA teams at www.ihsainc.com, all current teams are listed under the 'General Info' tab. Good luck!

slp
May. 5, 2009, 08:55 AM
One of the biggest differences is that in the NCAA you are unable to accept any competition money you win at any horseshow, including your your own horse or repaying for your entries or stalls.


This is the part that I still don't understand. There are several top riders in the midwest that compete NCAA and during the WEF season and during the summer I always see their names in show results winning thousands of dollars in the high A/O jumpers and Grand Prixs. Do they really have to not accept it or give it back, even if they don't own the horse that they are riding?

Tollriffic
May. 5, 2009, 09:34 AM
There is no limit on the number of USEF shows an NCAA rider can compete in only that their first commitment must be to the team and absolutely no prize money may be won. All that money those riders are winning must revert back to the show or they are no longer eligible. Some NCAA teams allow the rider to bring their horse to the team's barn but it becomes part of the team and is used in practices.

Nickelodian
May. 5, 2009, 10:39 AM
This is the part that I still don't understand. There are several top riders in the midwest that compete NCAA and during the WEF season and during the summer I always see their names in show results winning thousands of dollars in the high A/O jumpers and Grand Prixs. Do they really have to not accept it or give it back, even if they don't own the horse that they are riding?


My understanding is that if they are showing their own horse, they can't accept it. The horse show keeps it. If they are showing someone else's horse (not in the family), and that other person is paying the entries, that person can keep their prize money as the owner.

GallopGirl
May. 5, 2009, 10:50 AM
I did the Big Eq back east as a junior, and was interested in schools like Mt Holyoke and Smith because they're great academic schools and also have riding programs. I did summer programs at both and rode with both the trainers. I'd take Smith hands down over Mt Holyoke any day. PM me if you want more info on why I prefer their campus, academics, and riding program.

I decided I wanted to go to school somewhere else, so I just rode off campus at a local show barn and had a blast. I was still with a BNT, got into all the ammie classes, made great friends, and IMO got the best education. I can understand wanting to still be involved with horses in college, but it doesn't necessarily have to be in that format. For me, I had fun with my own horse on my own time doing my own thing. There are so many options out there. Make sure DD doesn't limit herself based on horses alone. ;)

ReSomething
May. 5, 2009, 02:29 PM
I am somewhat familiar with IHSA. It is a club so generally all are welcome. At the show, the riders pick their horses by lot just before the class, and are not allowed to warm up. They may be lucky and be told something about the way the horse goes, or not. Horses tend be of diverse quality, and it will definitely test one's ability to adapt. Your daughter would probably be permitted to bring her own horse, but would ride in team practice on school horses and compete on whatever horse she drew.

bigeqmom
May. 5, 2009, 03:11 PM
Thank you for all the replies. I had my daughter read them, and she is still leaning towards going to an ivy, and just boarding nearby. I think this would be a better option as well, because even though horses are her passion, she is focusing on her degree to make a living, not horses.

Hope everyone has a great day!

heartinrye
May. 5, 2009, 05:00 PM
This is the part that I still don't understand. There are several top riders in the midwest that compete NCAA and during the WEF season and during the summer I always see their names in show results winning thousands of dollars in the high A/O jumpers and Grand Prixs. Do they really have to not accept it or give it back, even if they don't own the horse that they are riding?

YUP. It sucks, BIG TIME.
I tried to get around the rule by donating my money to Just World, can't do that either though. :no:
If you ride a horse, anything the horse that YOU are riding can not accept prize money, no matter who owns the horse. If you own a horse that wins money that is ridden by someone else, you CAN accept that money, as long as you personally did not win it.

So those who win the big $$ in the summers and at WEF have to either give it back to the show management (which they REALLY don't like) or have them send a check in that amount to the VENC.

Wonders12
May. 5, 2009, 05:34 PM
All of the info on here is really good. As for IHSA, the final standings from Nationals can be found here:
http://www.ihsainc.com/Nationals/Results/Final_Standings.aspx?y=2009

It's great to know she's focusing on a school with good academics! While it's not an Ivy League school, she may want to check out Stanford for IHSA. I ride against them and they have one of the nicest equestrian centers I've EVER seen. The academics are obviously exceptional. Plus, being in the Bay Area there are a lot of opportunities to explore different jobs, etc. They placed 3rd at nationals this year, and while their riders do have a significant amount of money, everyone is very nice. I realize it's on the other side of the country from where she's looking, but it's another option.

Good luck!

CFiona
May. 5, 2009, 06:04 PM
she may want to check out Stanford for IHSA. I ride against them and they have one of the nicest equestrian centers I've EVER seen.

I do have a friend currently at Stanford (riding) and I'm sure she'd be happy to answer any specific questions (She is not on COTH so you'd have to PM me and I can forward it on).

I did about a year of IHSA with a small state university. It was fun socially, but it did not satisfy me "riding-wise". I never got used to the the competition format of not being allowed to warm-up. I found myself only riding for about 12 minutes at each horse show (2 over fences and 10 for my flat class). I did learn a lot about controlling my nerves at shows (You want me to do what!?!? :eek:) but ultimatley I missed the saddle time.

I ended up finding a local H/J barn and taking lesson & traveling to shows with them.

juniormom
May. 6, 2009, 12:11 AM
I forgot that the IHSA Nationals were in Texas this year. I guess I was thinking about friends of ours that ride from Oklahoma! ;) At any rate, consider all of your options. Many of the IHSA teams have farms that they ride out of that attend other A shows during the year too. Some of the IHSA teams are very competitive. You learn a lot about horses by having to "just get on and ride." Many of the teams have very close friendships and are much more laid back than the NCAA teams. We have had a couple of friends stop the NCAA teams due to the fact of being unable to accept any money at all for their own entries, etc. The IHSA is more like a normal show and you compete individually, as well as for the team. Not all of the schools try to field a team for finals. Some of it depends on the school, as well as the goals of the team that year.

There are pluses and minuses to everything. Talk with the students at each school you are considering. It will be a short 4 years, so consider doing some new things. You can stay involved in the horses during the summers or board your horse close by if you decide not to do the IHSA team or NCAA!

Good luck!

Tha Ridge
May. 6, 2009, 01:50 AM
My understanding is that if they are showing their own horse, they can't accept it. The horse show keeps it. If they are showing someone else's horse (not in the family), and that other person is paying the entries, that person can keep their prize money as the owner.

This is not true. NCAA doesn't see the distinction yet between competition being judged on the horse, rather than the rider, therefore prize money may not be accepted regardless of who owns the horse.

Another interesting point about NCAA is that an athlete can maintain their NCAA amateurism, yet be a USEF professional. According to NCAA rules for equestrian, riders can accept money for teaching lessons.

mikeimp60
Sep. 15, 2009, 10:41 PM
Thinking about riding in college? Take a few minutes now to learn the differences between the two largest college riding organizations, the IHSA and the NCAA
The IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) is the oldest and largest nationally competitive college riding program in the United States.
Founded in 1967 by Bob Cacchione, the IHSA was the first to make equestrian sports part of the college experience for male and female students in a manner that is fun, affordable, educational and competitive. Numerous Olympic riders, including Greg Best and Beezie Madden are alumni of IHSA. Each year over 8,000 IHSA riders of all skill levels from over 360 colleges compete individually and as teams at regional, zone, and national championship levels.
There are no recruiting guidelines in the IHSA regarding amateur status. You can be a professional, earn prize money at horse shows, give lessons, sell horses for profit and still ride on an IHSA team. The IHSA coaches and prospective riders have no limits placed on them with regards to contacting each other and prospective riders can visit schools without restriction. Prospective athletes that are hoping for a scholarship need to realize that good grades and good SAT/ACT scores are just as important as your riding ability.

Eliminating the expense of shipping or even owning horses puts IHSA competitions within reach of many who would otherwise miss the equestrian experience while in college. This is an all inclusive program open to riders of all skill levels and socio/economic backgrounds. Competitions offer classes for beginning to advanced riders; in Hunter Seat Equitation there are eight levels of Hunter Seat riding - beginner walk-trot through open where Medal /Maclay riders are sought and in Western Horsemanship and Reining there are six levels of Western Riding - beginner through open/Reining. Teams may be student run “club “teams or be a part of a college’s athletic program the difference between the two usually breaks down to how much the college financially supports the team. Club sport teams are entitled to compete at all IHSA competitions but in most cases the riders receive little or no financial assistance from the school. There are some colleges however who help with lesson expense and many of the teams hold fundraisers to help offset expenses. Many of the colleges with degreed programs in equine-related fields have school supported IHSA teams and offer athletic and academic scholarships for riding. The IHSA allows and encourages alumni participation all the way to the national championship.
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has been around for a very long time and is the governing body for all varsity athletics in the United States. In 1998, equestrian was classified as an NCAA emerging sport. Many people within the horse industry have united together to help advance the sport to full NCAA championship status. In order to attain this goal and hold a NCAA Equestrian Championship, there must be 40 Division I/II schools that sponsor equestrian as a varsity level program. Currently 23 colleges and universities offer equestrian as a varsity sport and more continue to add the program each year.
The NCAA schools decided to make Equestrian riding a woman’s sport; this helps the colleges satisfy the mandates set forth in Title IX in which the courts ruled that colleges must spend an equal amount of money on scholarships for female athletes as they do the male athletes. For this reason the NCAA schools only have female riders on their teams. The NCAA schools have both English and Western teams and they tend to look for the more advanced riders who have a great deal of show experience. All NCAA equestrian programs offer up to 15 scholarships that they can award either as full rides or partial rides paired up with academic scholarships and or financial aid.
The NCAA has a very strict set of rules to follow; some of these are listed below, however for a full understanding you should go the NCAA web site and familiarize yourself with all the rules. One thing you might notice is that NCAA schools do not advertise their riding programs; this is one of the NCAA rules. Another major rule you should be aware of is; if you are interested in qualifying for an NCAA scholarship you must first register with the NCAA clearing house. This is done by having your high school guidance counselor fill out form 48H and send it to the NCAA, you must also have your SAT and ACT scores sent directly to the NCAA Clearinghouse, test scores on an official high school transcript are no longer accepted.
Riders must be considered and amateur in order to be considered for recruitment The NCAA also has very strict amateur rules; they are actually stricter than most equestrian governing bodies. One question you may ask is; will my winnings affect my amateur status? The answer is YES! It is recommended that prospective students keep a record of expenses and winnings for all shows. Prior to enrollment at a university, winnings can not exceed the dollar value of your actual expenses related to that competition, during college no prize money is allowed to be received. Strangely enough according to the NCAA varsity equestrian web site, teaching lessons does not affect your amateur status with the NCAA as long as payment was comparable to the going rate. It is important to note that amateur status for the NCAA differs from that of the AQHA and USEF. For more information you may call the NCAA Clearing house directly by calling 1-877-262-1492 or visit the NCAA web site
There are also very strict rules concerning contacts by the college coaches, school visits etc., you, as a prospective student, should familiarize yourself with these rules since breaking them will effect your eligibility. There are NCAA equestrian teams in both Division 1 and 2 schools and their recruiting guidelines must be followed to the letter... I can not stress enough that the NCAA and IHSA teams are also looking for very strong academics as well as good riding ability. It is very important to have good SAT or ACT scores and a respectable GPA.
In both organizations the host colleges provide horses and tack. Horses are chosen by random draw and riders do not have the opportunity to warm up or test a horse over a jump before entering the show ring. Riders are judged in accordance with USEF/USHJA/AQHA/NRHA rules.
If you would like to read more about each organization you can visit the NCAA Varsity Equestrian website at http://www.varsityequestrian.com/ or the IHSA website at http://www.ihsainc.com/. You can also visit www.equestriancollegerecruiter and read about the equestrian college recruiting process in detail.
Michael Imparato
EquestrianCollegeRecruiter.com

ponymom64
Sep. 16, 2009, 09:13 AM
Michael - thank you for your post - it had a lot of useful information. I also have a high junior hoping to ride in college, so this was very timely.

I will have her give your info to her guidance counselor.

Best

showmom858
Sep. 16, 2009, 10:57 AM
Michael,

Thank you for the information. I have a highschool sophomore that really wants to ride in college and has some friends riding for NCAA teams that she has been talking to about opportunities at their schools.

I am going to cut and paste your post so that I have it in the file I have started for her college search.

Spotted Pony
Sep. 17, 2009, 09:42 AM
"riders do not have the opportunity to warm up or test a horse over a jump before entering the show ring"

Actually they do - for NCAA once the draw is made there is a 3 or 5 minute time period once the riders are mounted when they can do a quick hack of the horse and I believe jump up to 3 jumps. This is monitored and the judge is not present.

When I competed IHSA you had time for a quick W-T-C but I can't remember being able to jump any jumps.

Tha Ridge
Sep. 17, 2009, 09:48 AM
"riders do not have the opportunity to warm up or test a horse over a jump before entering the show ring"

Actually they do - for NCAA once the draw is made there is a 3 or 5 minute time period once the riders are mounted when they can do a quick hack of the horse and I believe jump up to 3 jumps. This is monitored and the judge is not present.

When I competed IHSA you had time for a quick W-T-C but I can't remember being able to jump any jumps.


For NCAA, you are given four minutes and up to four jumps. This is timed and the judge turns their back.

For IHSA, the horse's bridle is held until the moment you walk into the ring. There is no warm-up, period.

showmom858
Sep. 17, 2009, 12:20 PM
When my DD's were younger they rode with a trainer that coached the IHSA team at a local university. My girls helped to warm up the horses and the riders that were there competing would be able to watch the warm up as I remember.

HenryisBlaisin'
Sep. 17, 2009, 02:03 PM
I rode IHSA (quite a few years ago, now) and found the quality of competition to be very good. OTOH, riders can't show below their level for points, because after a certain number of points, a rider must move up. My team was national champions my sophomore year. We rode against Dartmouth and Harvard, among other schools, in our zone.

The quality of horses does vary, but it seemed as though the judges took that into account-if you rode a poor horse well, it didn't hurt you against someone who was a passenger on a great horse-in fact, it probably helped. Some programs may be more laid-back, but ours wasn't-our coach was very hard on us, and ther were numerous practices and meetings, as well as our regular lessons-you had to ride in lessons at least twice a week to be in the program, and you had to try out and be accepted in order to compete. Our coach was very picky about turnout and there was nothing casual about our team!

At our school, you could bring your own horse, but you either paid full board, or your horse was used in the lesson program for $5 off board per lesson. The coach rarely assigned you your own horse for lessons, so riding your horse was on your own time. Schools do not bring horses to a competition-the host school provides them all (some do borrow from nearby programs). The team captain draws each rider's horse out of a hat, and you can watch the horse being ridden, but cannot warm up-once you get on, in the ring; you are being judged from the moment you step off from where you mounted. I don't know if they make you redraw if you draw your own horse at a show-my guess would be yes, but I don't remember it ever happeneing, either.

I only rode for two years but would have gone all four if my school hadn't decided that riders had to pass a fitness test (I had a knee injury and could not run and the school wouldn't allow a dispensation even though I had doctors' notes-I passed the rest). I really enjoyed the experience-but was very happy at my school even after I had to stop riding on the team.

mikeimp60
Oct. 22, 2009, 06:49 PM
Thinking about riding in college? Take a few minutes now to learn the differences between the two largest college riding organizations, the IHSA and the NCAA
The IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) is the oldest and largest nationally competitive college riding program in the United States.
Founded in 1967 by Bob Cacchione, the IHSA was the first to make equestrian sports part of the college experience for male and female students in a manner that is fun, affordable, educational and competitive. Numerous Olympic riders, including Greg Best and Beezie Madden are alumni of IHSA. Each year over 8,000 IHSA riders of all skill levels from over 360 colleges compete individually and as teams at regional, zone, and national championship levels.
There are no recruiting guidelines in the IHSA regarding amateur status. You can be a professional, earn prize money at horse shows, give lessons, sell horses for profit and still ride on an IHSA team. The IHSA coaches and prospective riders have no limits placed on them with regards to contacting each other and prospective riders can visit schools without restriction. Prospective athletes that are hoping for a scholarship need to realize that good grades and good SAT/ACT scores are just as important as your riding ability.

Eliminating the expense of shipping or even owning horses puts IHSA competitions within reach of many who would otherwise miss the equestrian experience while in college. This is an all inclusive program open to riders of all skill levels and socio/economic backgrounds. Competitions offer classes for beginning to advanced riders; in Hunter Seat Equitation there are eight levels of Hunter Seat riding - beginner walk-trot through open where Medal /Maclay riders are sought and in Western Horsemanship and Reining there are six levels of Western Riding - beginner through open/Reining. Teams may be student run “club “teams or be a part of a college’s athletic program the difference between the two usually breaks down to how much the college financially supports the team. Club sport teams are entitled to compete at all IHSA competitions but in most cases the riders receive little or no financial assistance from the school. There are some colleges however who help with lesson expense and many of the teams hold fundraisers to help offset expenses. Many of the colleges with degreed programs in equine-related fields have school supported IHSA teams and offer athletic and academic scholarships for riding. The IHSA allows and encourages alumni participation all the way to the national championship.
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has been around for a very long time and is the governing body for all varsity athletics in the United States. In 1998, equestrian was classified as an NCAA emerging sport. Many people within the horse industry have united together to help advance the sport to full NCAA championship status. In order to attain this goal and hold a NCAA Equestrian Championship, there must be 40 Division I/II schools that sponsor equestrian as a varsity level program. Currently 23 colleges and universities offer equestrian as a varsity sport and more continue to add the program each year.
The NCAA schools decided to make Equestrian riding a woman’s sport; this helps the colleges satisfy the mandates set forth in Title IX in which the courts ruled that colleges must spend an equal amount of money on scholarships for female athletes as they do the male athletes. For this reason the NCAA schools only have female riders on their teams. The NCAA schools have both English and Western teams and they tend to look for the more advanced riders who have a great deal of show experience. All NCAA equestrian programs offer up to 15 scholarships that they can award either as full rides or partial rides paired up with academic scholarships and or financial aid.
The NCAA has a very strict set of rules to follow; some of these are listed below, however for a full understanding you should go the NCAA web site and familiarize yourself with all the rules. One thing you might notice is that NCAA schools do not advertise their riding programs; this is one of the NCAA rules. Another major rule you should be aware of is; if you are interested in qualifying for an NCAA scholarship you must first register with the NCAA clearing house. This is done by having your high school guidance counselor fill out form 48H and send it to the NCAA, you must also have your SAT and ACT scores sent directly to the NCAA Clearinghouse, test scores on an official high school transcript are no longer accepted.
Riders must be considered and amateur in order to be considered for recruitment The NCAA also has very strict amateur rules; they are actually stricter than most equestrian governing bodies. One question you may ask is; will my winnings affect my amateur status? The answer is YES! It is recommended that prospective students keep a record of expenses and winnings for all shows. Prior to enrollment at a university, winnings can not exceed the dollar value of your actual expenses related to that competition, during college no prize money is allowed to be received. Strangely enough according to the NCAA varsity equestrian web site, teaching lessons does not affect your amateur status with the NCAA as long as payment was comparable to the going rate. It is important to note that amateur status for the NCAA differs from that of the AQHA and USEF. For more information you may call the NCAA Clearing house directly by calling 1-877-262-1492 or visit the NCAA web site
There are also very strict rules concerning contacts by the college coaches, school visits etc., you, as a prospective student, should familiarize yourself with these rules since breaking them will effect your eligibility. There are NCAA equestrian teams in both Division 1 and 2 schools and their recruiting guidelines must be followed to the letter... I can not stress enough that the NCAA and IHSA teams are also looking for very strong academics as well as good riding ability. It is very important to have good SAT or ACT scores and a respectable GPA.
In both organizations the host colleges provide horses and tack. Horses are chosen by random draw and riders do not have the opportunity to warm up or test a horse over a jump before entering the show ring. Riders are judged in accordance with USEF/USHJA/AQHA/NRHA rules.
If you would like to read more about each organization you can visit the NCAA Varsity Equestrian website at http://www.varsityequestrian.com/ or the IHSA website at http://www.ihsainc.com/. You can also visit www.equestriancollegerecruiter and read about the equestrian college recruiting process in detail.
Michael Imparato
EquestrianCollegeRecruiter.com