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  1. #1
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    Aug. 22, 2009
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    Default Looking for IHSA/general riding experiences at a few schools...

    I'm currently embroiled in the fun of college research and application preparation, and riding is of course one of my top must-haves to keep me sane in college. I am interested in these schools, and I was wondering if anyone had any recent experience or knowledge of their IHSA/riding programs or of riding opportunities in the general areas. Thank you!!

    UCLA
    University of Virginia
    Cornell
    William & Mary
    Dartmouth
    Brown
    Swarthmore

    Thank you again!



  2. #2
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    Mar. 24, 2010
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    This year Dartmouth started being treated as a full NCAA compliant sport, which means there was more financial support for the team and I believe more practices. I'm not sure exactly how things have changed - I was just up there and snowed out of practices so I didn't get to talk to Sally about how it worked.

    Dartmouth is lucky to own their own 100 acre horse farm. When I was there we started instituting mandatory time in the weight room, running, etc., and I believe it has continued. I'm not sure if being NCAA compliant means the school pays for "uniforms" aka TS breeches and coats, or not. They always paid our entry fees, transportation, snacks, and some spending money for meals. I believe my senior year they also paid for hotels when we had two shows in a weekend, but I don't remember for sure.

    Riding is definitely just a small part of life at Dartmouth. There are typically some pretty nice horses who have been donated, and when I was there I both half leased a horse and rode a horse for a med student who didn't have the time she needed to ride, so I got opportunities to ride outside of practice, too. We had some good instruction and fun, and we were definitely NOT overly serious. We and UVM were kind of the "weirdos" of the place. I learned that I would ride in miserable cold if necessary, but given a choice I prefer feeling where my toes are instead of having to look at them. On extra cold days we would position people around the arena to tell riders what the body parts they couldn't feel were doing at shows. It wasn't actually that bad - but not what I wanted to deal with the rest of my life! If you're from a cold climate, it'll just be normal to you!

    It sounds like horses are not your goal in life based on your selections - that being the case, you should get chances to ride without too much trouble at Dartmouth. You can email sally.batton@dartmouth.edu to ask about the program because she runs the farm and coaches the team. When I was there I had one lesson a week, two team practices a week and usually a show a week - so I got to ride four days a week. While there, that was actually quite a lot to fit in! It also depends what major you pick, but with the quarter system you are spending a lot of time outside of class doing work and everything moves extremely quickly.


    Have you considered Stanford? I met the team and their coaches in '97-ish and loved them all and wished I had gone there. Nowadays, I have no idea if they have the same coaches or if things have changed, but something about them just seemed supportive and fun and like a program I would have loved riding in (and avoided snow!)
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  3. #3
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    Aug. 22, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    This year Dartmouth started being treated as a full NCAA compliant sport, which means there was more financial support for the team and I believe more practices. I'm not sure exactly how things have changed - I was just up there and snowed out of practices so I didn't get to talk to Sally about how it worked.

    Dartmouth is lucky to own their own 100 acre horse farm. When I was there we started instituting mandatory time in the weight room, running, etc., and I believe it has continued. I'm not sure if being NCAA compliant means the school pays for "uniforms" aka TS breeches and coats, or not. They always paid our entry fees, transportation, snacks, and some spending money for meals. I believe my senior year they also paid for hotels when we had two shows in a weekend, but I don't remember for sure.

    Riding is definitely just a small part of life at Dartmouth. There are typically some pretty nice horses who have been donated, and when I was there I both half leased a horse and rode a horse for a med student who didn't have the time she needed to ride, so I got opportunities to ride outside of practice, too. We had some good instruction and fun, and we were definitely NOT overly serious. We and UVM were kind of the "weirdos" of the place. I learned that I would ride in miserable cold if necessary, but given a choice I prefer feeling where my toes are instead of having to look at them. On extra cold days we would position people around the arena to tell riders what the body parts they couldn't feel were doing at shows. It wasn't actually that bad - but not what I wanted to deal with the rest of my life! If you're from a cold climate, it'll just be normal to you!

    It sounds like horses are not your goal in life based on your selections - that being the case, you should get chances to ride without too much trouble at Dartmouth. You can email sally.batton@dartmouth.edu to ask about the program because she runs the farm and coaches the team. When I was there I had one lesson a week, two team practices a week and usually a show a week - so I got to ride four days a week. While there, that was actually quite a lot to fit in! It also depends what major you pick, but with the quarter system you are spending a lot of time outside of class doing work and everything moves extremely quickly.


    Have you considered Stanford? I met the team and their coaches in '97-ish and loved them all and wished I had gone there. Nowadays, I have no idea if they have the same coaches or if things have changed, but something about them just seemed supportive and fun and like a program I would have loved riding in (and avoided snow!)
    Thank you for all the information!
    Your assumptions are accurate - I don't want to be a professional equestrian, but it needs to be a big part of my life

    The cold thing is something I have to consider as well... I'm from Northern CA so I'm not at *all* used to it... but change is good, I suppose!

    And it's interesting that you mentioned Stanford, because I actually rode for their IEA team for a while so I know the facilities/coaches/horses really well. It's a FANTASTIC program, and Stanford is my top choice for several reasons including that. But I need options... with a 3% admission rate, you never know. Also, it's practically in my backyard, and I'm getting that leave-the-nest itch... we'll see...



  4. #4
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    Mar. 23, 2005
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    I don't know what, if anything, Swarthmore has as an organized riding program. I know the Bi-Co community (Bryn Mawr & Haverford) has always cobbled together some sort of riding club or IHSA team depending on the year and interests of the students, but I never heard anything about Swat having a publicized program. This might have changed in the last few years since I graduated, but it's definitely not as organized as some of the other schools with barns and more formal programs. It's a wonderful school, though, so depending on your priorities and how much you value a large riding presence you should not discount it.



  5. #5
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    Oct. 24, 2008
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    Portola Valley, CA
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    I co-founded the UCLA team. We had fun, but it was really difficult to find a good barn/training situation because UCLA is in the middle of a city with few horses around; you have to drive over the hill to the valley which can take up to an hour each way.

    The team is small but still active. I wouldn't pick UCLA just for their equestrian team. If their academics and city life attract you, then UCLA would be good because the horses can play a smaller role in your university experience. If you want horses to be a big part of your experience, I would pick a school that's a little more rural.

    Best of luck!



  6. #6
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    Well, riding is nice but what the heck are you majoring in? Might be helpful to know how those activities would fit in with your course load and typical schedual...especially if, like UCLA, you are talking an hour each way-if you are lucky with that traffic.

    Some of the school IHSA programs are...lacking... but same school is wonderful for your major and career placement/networking. You can also just take lessons from a good area barn to keep up the riding instead of trying to pick a school strong in your major AND a riding team.

    Might be worth mentioning not everybody who wants to participate gets a chance to do so.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  7. #7
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    Oct. 24, 2008
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    Portola Valley, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    Well, riding is nice but what the heck are you majoring in? Might be helpful to know how those activities would fit in with your course load and typical schedual...especially if, like UCLA, you are talking an hour each way-if you are lucky with that traffic.

    Some of the school IHSA programs are...lacking... but same school is wonderful for your major and career placement/networking. You can also just take lessons from a good area barn to keep up the riding instead of trying to pick a school strong in your major AND a riding team.

    Might be worth mentioning not everybody who wants to participate gets a chance to do so.
    Very true, especially the last part. The benefit of a small team is that your opportunity to show is increased, but the team atmosphere will be very different and you will most likely have to pay all your riding and showing expenses.



  8. #8
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    Mar. 1, 2012
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    Pasadena, CA
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    I don't know much about the team there, but there are loads of barns around Charlottesville.
    I'm comin', Elizabeth!



  9. #9
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    Jun. 12, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jumpthemoon16 View Post
    Thank you for all the information!
    Your assumptions are accurate - I don't want to be a professional equestrian, but it needs to be a big part of my life

    The cold thing is something I have to consider as well... I'm from Northern CA so I'm not at *all* used to it... but change is good, I suppose!

    And it's interesting that you mentioned Stanford, because I actually rode for their IEA team for a while so I know the facilities/coaches/horses really well. It's a FANTASTIC program, and Stanford is my top choice for several reasons including that. But I need options... with a 3% admission rate, you never know. Also, it's practically in my backyard, and I'm getting that leave-the-nest itch... we'll see...
    Nothing to add about the schools you've mentioned but I wanted to give some thoughts based on experience with some of the ideas listed above.

    I felt similarly when I went to school as it sounds like you do. I didn't want horses to be my main focus but I did want them to remain a big part of my life. I picked a schools based on their academic programs for what I wanted to do first because it seems like no matter where you go, there will be horses and horse people. Now, more than two years into my career and I am so happy I did that. I went to a top 5 school for my major and I am really reaping the benefits now. I was lucky enough that my school had an IHSA team, but even if they hadn't I would have been able to find plenty of riding opportunities.

    I went from a relatively moderate climate to a rather extreme one for college. I found it rather difficult to deal with at first as things are very different from region to region. Overall though I would not let that me a factor in your college decision.

    I also wanted to touch on the whole leaving the nest itch thing as I had that big time when going to college. I HIGHLY recommend going far away from what you know at least once in your life. College seems to be the perfect opportunity for that as most all the freshmen will be in the same boat. Although it isn't always easy (It was NOT easy for me AT ALL), you learn and grow so much from it. I wouldn't have changed that experience for the world.

    Again sorry for not adding much as far as the colleges go but I had to chime in on the other stuff. Good luck and I hope you find the perfect fit!
    "Be the change you want to see in the world."
    ~Mahatma Gandhi



  10. #10
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    Nov. 29, 2010
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    I don't ride at UVA, but there are in my region. The team trains out of The Barracks with Claiborne and her daughter Maria. The Barracks is a big A-AA show barn and have some really great show horses that the students are able to ride. I can't say enough good things about Claiborne and Maria. They are wonderful. The girl that I am friends with that rides on the team really enjoys it.



  11. #11
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    My sister rode for William and Mary during her undergrad years. She found the team to be very inviting, with good horses. She loved the coach, Karen Greenwood. My sister hadn't ridden competitively since 9th grade, because she had been burned out, and Karen made riding and showing fun and enjoyable for her again. They aren't a super, super competitive team like VIC or Centenery, but they turn out good riders and they have fun. In their region, they were the team who qualified the most riders to go on to regionals as well.
    There's coffee in that nebula.



  12. #12
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    Nov. 9, 2011
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    A word of advice: pick your college based on your academic aspirations and not the IHSA team. Riding opportunites will exist at almost every school you might choose whether or not its with an IHSA team. Getting a top notch education in a good field and having networking opportunities will allow you to have the career you want and the means to enjoy horses at whatever level you wish to later in your life.

    Theres more to life than horses. I rolled my eyes at my parents when they told me that growing up but its true! I wish I had listened! Instead I went to a school with a decent IHSA team but a poor business program. 2 years later I realized I would have to transfer to another school, delaying graduation by a year and costing me more $$$. UGH!



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeanCounterPony View Post
    A word of advice: pick your college based on your academic aspirations and not the IHSA team. Riding opportunites will exist at almost every school you might choose whether or not its with an IHSA team. Getting a top notch education in a good field and having networking opportunities will allow you to have the career you want and the means to enjoy horses at whatever level you wish to later in your life.

    Theres more to life than horses. I rolled my eyes at my parents when they told me that growing up but its true! I wish I had listened! Instead I went to a school with a decent IHSA team but a poor business program. 2 years later I realized I would have to transfer to another school, delaying graduation by a year and costing me more $$$. UGH!
    Here here!! I just graduated and originally couldn't bare the thought of taking a break from riding. I rode my first semester at a hj barn in the area (I went to WakenForest in NC) but after that I reserved riding for Christmas and summers and my home trainer was always willing to whip me back into shape. Now, I'm out of school and had the best four years ever, got a solid degree and focused heavily on forming lasting personal and professional relationships and can still ride! The most difficult thing about Riding for me was planning my schedule, which was only set a semester at a time and then would get all jumbled up again when new classes rolled around.

    Undergrad is a unique part of life for sure and it's gone in a blink. And unlike other athletes, you have a sport that you can participate in your entire life!

    Good luck with the applications... They are loads of fun
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



  14. #14
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    Aug. 22, 2009
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    Thank you for all the replies!

    Not to worry, academics is my #1 priority - if the school doesn't have a great IHSA team, I'll find a way to ride. I'd just like to see what's out there (if you notice I also asked about general riding in the area), and have it as a factor in my choices. The spreadsheets are coming out, people!

    I'm planning on majoring in something Psychology-related. I go to a very competitive, academic-centered private prep school and I've been balancing that with riding/competing for quite some time here, so I don't think I'm going in completely ignorant as to scheduling and the like.

    More information is welcome and appreciated!



  15. #15
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    Aug. 22, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by besttwtbever View Post
    Nothing to add about the schools you've mentioned but I wanted to give some thoughts based on experience with some of the ideas listed above.

    I felt similarly when I went to school as it sounds like you do. I didn't want horses to be my main focus but I did want them to remain a big part of my life. I picked a schools based on their academic programs for what I wanted to do first because it seems like no matter where you go, there will be horses and horse people. Now, more than two years into my career and I am so happy I did that. I went to a top 5 school for my major and I am really reaping the benefits now. I was lucky enough that my school had an IHSA team, but even if they hadn't I would have been able to find plenty of riding opportunities.

    I went from a relatively moderate climate to a rather extreme one for college. I found it rather difficult to deal with at first as things are very different from region to region. Overall though I would not let that me a factor in your college decision.

    I also wanted to touch on the whole leaving the nest itch thing as I had that big time when going to college. I HIGHLY recommend going far away from what you know at least once in your life. College seems to be the perfect opportunity for that as most all the freshmen will be in the same boat. Although it isn't always easy (It was NOT easy for me AT ALL), you learn and grow so much from it. I wouldn't have changed that experience for the world.

    Again sorry for not adding much as far as the colleges go but I had to chime in on the other stuff. Good luck and I hope you find the perfect fit!
    This is very helpful! Thank you.

    Yeah, I kind of wish Stanford wasn't so close to me I LOVE the school, it literally has everything I want and according to my college counselor (former Stanford admissions officer) I have a chance there. But it's so dang close to home!



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jumpthemoon16 View Post
    This is very helpful! Thank you.

    Yeah, I kind of wish Stanford wasn't so close to me I LOVE the school, it literally has everything I want and according to my college counselor (former Stanford admissions officer) I have a chance there. But it's so dang close to home!
    The positive to that is you know you can ride even if you don't want the commitment of the IHSA team!


    If you have a chance at Stanford you will at any of the top schools. To some extent beyond that will be a mix of what the admissions officers are looking for and if you happen to fit it. I've had multiple admissions officers at selective schools tell me they throw out the scores once they have their top group and go off interviews, essays and recommendations. I think you're looking at a good selection of schools!


    I know my friends who were psych majors at Dartmouth loved it; none of them went into psychology fields or ever intended to, so I don't know how it is as a prep for grad school or anything. Incidentally, I'm from Tucson and went there in part because it was so far away - Arizona State offered me spending money beyond room and board which would have covered my horse's board, and I found that VERY tempting!
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  17. #17
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    Oct. 7, 2005
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    No advice on teams or where to ride. I just wanted to add that you need to have some safety schools on your college list also. College admissions at the moment is a brutal process especially at the top schools no matter how good your test scores and grades are. My D just went through the process this year although she was not aiming at top schools, but many of her friends were and even with their excellent grades and stats did not get the outcomes they hoped for. Just a warning!



  18. #18
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    Dec. 23, 2004
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    Midlothian, Virginia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockfish View Post
    My sister rode for William and Mary during her undergrad years. She found the team to be very inviting, with good horses. She loved the coach, Karen Greenwood. My sister hadn't ridden competitively since 9th grade, because she had been burned out, and Karen made riding and showing fun and enjoyable for her again. They aren't a super, super competitive team like VIC or Centenery, but they turn out good riders and they have fun. In their region, they were the team who qualified the most riders to go on to regionals as well.
    I'm a senior finishing up my last year on the W&M team. I might be biased, but I think we're a great bunch. We tend to place well and this year we sent 7 riders to regionals.

    We're a sport club on campus so we have to do our own fundraising, which keeps us busy. But we still manage to stay low-key - everyone (including Karen) understands when you're going through a rough week and just don't have time to ride, etc. We just moved to Karen's new facility which is about 25 min from campus - beautiful brand new ring and jumps, and a larger barn is planned for the future.

    Our team members and club members ride together in lessons, usually 4 days a week. Karen compiles everyone's schedules and makes sure each lesson group has a driver (since freshmen and sophomores aren't allowed cars on campus). If you want to ride outside of the W&M program, some people ride at a big boarding facility 15 minutes away, and there's another farm just past us, but with those, transportation could be an issue.

    I can't speak for our psych program (but there seem to be a lot of 'em, so it must be good!) but W&M truly has a great atmosphere - Williamsburg may be a tad colonial but it's still fun and an amazing place to spend your college years... </sappy senior moment> And whatever you think is "hot" just wait til you hit 100 degrees with 85% humidity... on move-in day.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie A View Post
    I don't know what, if anything, Swarthmore has as an organized riding program. I know the Bi-Co community (Bryn Mawr & Haverford) has always cobbled together some sort of riding club or IHSA team depending on the year and interests of the students, but I never heard anything about Swat having a publicized program. This might have changed in the last few years since I graduated, but it's definitely not as organized as some of the other schools with barns and more formal programs. It's a wonderful school, though, so depending on your priorities and how much you value a large riding presence you should not discount it.
    Swarthmore started a club a few years ago. Nothing really competitive like IHSA--it's very low-key. They ride out of my barn and I teach several of the lessons. Feel free to PM me if you'd like more info!



  20. #20
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    Both Cornell and Brown have very well supported teams, but Cornell competition is a travel nightmare due the sheer size of the region.

    And I'm talking 3-4 hours in each direction.

    Brown and JWU are both city based campus so there are more teams in a smaller geography.
    And both UConn and JWU have Equine studies programs which assures quality facilities knowledgeable coaching and acess to borrowed mounts

    The Leone's would loan green horses who needed show mileage to the JWU home shows...it's hard to re-focus 30 starstruck equine major girls....
    *************************
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