Riding competitively on a college team is an increasingly popular route for students, so let’s take a look at some top equestrian colleges in the United States. For high achieving junior riders, joining a college team can mean receiving a scholarship. For the less competitive but enthusiastic equestrian, it provides a way to pursue a career in a horse-related field.
The following colleges are recognized for their excellent programs of study in equine specialties and top-class facilities. Equestrian colleges have teams in several disciplines, including western, hunter/jumper, saddle seat, and dressage.
Equestrian Colleges Teams Associations
Intercollegiate teams run under the guidelines of one of three associations. These are the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA), and the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA).
The IHSA caters to riders of all levels providing a great opportunity for novice riders to participate in competitions. Riders compete in a division that suits their ability on a random horse, drawn from a pool. They earn points for their performances individually and for their teams.
Choosing an ISHA college doesn’t mean you don’t ride well enough. In other words, it will likely give more opportunities to compete. Additionally, to learn more about an ISHA equestrian team, check out this student’s experience.
The NCEA focuses on top-level college equestrian competition. Competitions are called meets, where different teams of five from each college participate. NCEA competition includes divisions in reining, equitation on the flat, equitation over fences, and western horsemanship.
The IDA sets the rules and code of conduct for college dressage teams. Collegiate IDA teams have four members who compete at different levels. While not as many colleges have an IDA team, it is a growing area of popularity.
Emory & Henry College
In Emory, Virginia you’ll find Emory & Henry College. The college offers a degree in Equine Studies, has an IHSA hunt seat team, and an IDA dressage team. The equestrian facilities sit on 120-acres, with 50 school horses available.
The facilities include two indoor and one outdoor arena, as well as a cross country course. Students wishing to bring their own horses can use one of the 15 stables dedicated to borders. The college itself has just under 1,300 students, making it ideal for those who want a sense of community.
Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University, OSU, is found in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The college has a varied course selection for equine students, including, Equine Enterprise Management and pre-veterinary degrees. OSU also has a strong research team dedicated to the development of healthy horses.
The equestrian team competes under the NCEA and is one of the most competitive in its division. The Cowgirls compete in both English and western disciplines. The Linda Cline Equine Teaching Facility hosts the equestrian team horses and training.
Located in beautiful Cazenovia, New York, Cazenovia College is one of the top equine programs in the United States. The excellent facilities have use of 240-acres with 70-resident horses, modern stables, and classrooms. Even though the college is small, it has competitive IDA and IHSA teams.
The college has a small student body of just 1,000, with around 100 participating in the equine education programs. Despite its small size, the equestrian team has won 12 individual National Championships. The college prides itself on providing a world-class, hands-on education.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M, located in College Station, Texas, boasts one of the top equestrian teams in the United States. The college has a strong Animal Science department with an Equine Science program and a renowned Veterinary Medicine school.
The equestrian team trains at Hildebrand Equine Complex, a state-of-the-art facility that includes the university’s veterinary hospital. The equestrian team has won the NCEA National Championships 11 times.
Auburn University, in Auburn, Alabama, is another highly competitive equestrian college. The equestrian team has won the National Championships 6 times. The equestrian center contains just under 40 stalls and 4 arenas.
The team competes in both English and Western disciplines. The University itself has several degrees available through the Animal Sciences department, including Equine Science.
In the meantime, if you’re considering Auburn University but can’t decide, check out the team winning the 2019 NCEA National Championship.
University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky, right in the heart of Lexington horse country, offers extensive equine programs of study. Equine Science and research dominate the UK Ag Equine Programs. Did you know that UK Ag developed 6 of the 10 most commonly administered equine vaccines?
For students looking to pursue a career in the equine industry, the University of Kentucky is one to consider. The equestrian team is not as famous as some other colleges but holds its own in IHSA competitions.
Here we’ve just touched on the top equestrian colleges. The NCEA has 24 colleges that take part in the highest levels of competition. While the IHSA has 400 members. With this choice, finding the right college for you is easy.
If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below.