College Riding Organizations
Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association
IHSA offers opportunities for riders of all experience levels in both team and individual competition. IHSA features eight levels, on the flat and over fences with courses starting at 2-foot-3 in the Novice division and going up to 2-foot-9–3-foot for Open riders.
Established in 1967, the IHSA counts nearly 400-plus member colleges, whose teams range from the competitive to casual in terms of time commitment and intensity. The IHSA’s mission emphasizes learning, sportsmanship, fun and keeping equestrian involvement affordable for students.
The IHSA has several scholarship programs, and many of its member schools offer financial help toward college expenses. These range from academic scholarships to grants and traditional financial aid. For more information, visit www.ihsainc.com.
National Collegiate Equestrian Association
NCEA competition is head to head. One rider from each school rides the same horse, drawn randomly in a Hunter Seat Equitation class, either on the flat or over a course ranging in height from 3-foot to 3-foot-6. The winner earns the point for her school.
The NCEA equestrian league was launched in 1998 and currently has 22 schools participating with varsity teams that are funded by each school’s athletic department, just as a football or soccer team is. Most coaches have some athletic scholarship money to offer and a few give generous packages to top-circuit riders.
For more information, visit www.collegiateequestrian.com.
American National Riding Commission
The ANRC is education-driven and dedicated to promoting the American System of Forward Riding as taught by Captain Vladimir Littauer. The focal point of its competitive endeavor is the invitational ANRC National Intercollegiate Equitation Championship, typically held in April. Schools field a team of their strongest riders to compete against oth- er ANRC squads. Unlike in IHSA and NCEA competition, exhibitors can ride either the school’s or a privately owned horse in the championship. Riders are judged over four phases that include a USEF Hunter Equitation test, a 3-foot Hunter Seat Equitation Medal course, 3-foot Derby course and a written test covering riding theory and stable management. A Novice division offers similar tests at a 2-foot-6 fence height. (ANRC also has programs for middle- and high-school age riders.) Approximately 90 schools have contested the Championship over its 40-year history. For more information, visit www.anrc.org.
Intercollegiate Eventing Program
A handful of colleges have had eventing teams for many years, and the U.S. Eventing Association created a formal structure for collegiate eventing by launching the IEP in 2014. An increasing number of Intercollegiate Team Challenges are being added to existing horse trials throughout the country, especially in the southeast. The Intercollegiate Eventing Championships debuted in 2016 and, in 2017, teams from 17 schools participated. They were held during the Virginia Horse Trials in Lexington, Virginia, in May, and 2016 reserve champs, the Clemson Tigers, emerged the victors.
IEP teams vary in the details of how and by whom they are run, but almost all members ride their own or a leased horse. The rigors and risks of eventing make catch-riding an unsuitable option. Eventing is well-known for its team spirit, and many college squads offer membership to nonriders who want to chip in from the ground and share their horsey enthusiasm with like-minded students.
For more information, visit www.useventing.com/membership/intercollegiate.
Intercollegiate Dressage Association
The IDA was formed in 1995 and today counts approximately 40 colleges with teams participating in regional and national dressage competition. For shows, IDA schools field a team of four riders and compete in four levels, Introductory, Lower Training, Upper Training and First Level, riding horses provided by the host school.
For more information, visit www.teamdressage.com.