“Riding in College – Different Perspectives”
On June 16th, I had the opportunity to attend the American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum entitled “Going to College,” in Washington, D.C. I heard panelists discuss options for young riders to continue to participate in equestrian sports when they are in college. Since I just finished my freshman year of high school, this topic really interested me, and I thought it would interest other MHC youth members, and perhaps their parents, as well.
National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCAA/NCEA)
The first panelist to speak was Meghan Boenig, Equestrian Team Head Coach at the University of Georgia. Coach Boenig discussed equestrian sport with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the sport’s governing body, the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) (http://www.collegiateequestrian.com). Currently, equestrian sport through the NCAA is considered an emerging sport for women at the Division I and Division II levels, with 22 schools participating. In 2014, a recommendation was made to remove this sport from the NCAA because, according to its website: “Emerging sports must reach the championship sponsorship minimum of 40 schools within 10 years or show steady progress toward that mark. Equestrian hit the 10-year limit in 2012 and, despite remaining as an emerging sport for three extra years, the number of schools sponsoring, it has stalled at 23.” The final decision has yet to be made, so for now equestrians can consider colleges with NCAA equestrian teams.
Intercollegiate Horse Show Association
The next panelist to speak was Patte Zumbrun, Equestrian Director at Goucher College, Md., representing the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Ms. Zumbrun showed a video that told the story of IHSA. More than 370 schools in the U.S. and Canada participate in IHSA, and riders of every level are encouraged to compete (http://www.ihsainc.com).
The American Horse Council's "Going to College" panel during the June 2015 National Issues Forum,
Washington, DC (photo by Holden Rafey)
National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association
Panelist Cindy Schonholtz, Director of Industry Outreach for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), spoke last. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) (collegerodeo.com) serves 137 member schools with over 100 college rodeos per year. I don’t know much about rodeo – yet – but will cover the Maryland High School Rodeo Association in a future blog so we can learn about youth rodeo in Maryland together.
Who Can Compete on College Teams?
NCAA/NCEA only includes women riders. IHSA and PRCA/ICRA include both women and men. IHSA and NCAA/NCEA offer competitions in both Hunt Seat and Western riding, and riders draw for their mounts so you do not bring your own horse to these events. But what if you want to compete on your own horse while in college? My barn mate, Jonathan Leon-Salans is a rising senior, so I asked him what he plans to do.
One Maryland High School Senior’s Opinon
Jonathan Leon-Salans, a rising high school senior who also rides at Dream Catcher Farm with me, said that riding has definitely influenced where he has applied to college. He wants to stay close to the barn or attend a school in a place near large horse shows like Rollins College in Florida. Jonathan also commented that he wants to join a riding team if his college has one in order to meet other students with the same interests as him. Like many equestrians who love the sport, Jonathan hopes to continue his riding career through and after college.
I was grateful for the opportunity to attend this forum especially since I will be going to college in a few years. The forum gave me insight into the different options to continue riding in college, which will help me make my decision when the time comes for me to apply to schools. I hope this helps you as well!