Equestrian College Advisor #CampusChat Recap

A BIG thank you to Equestrian College Advisor, Randi Heathman, for joining us on #CampusChat.

Equestrian College Advisor, Randi Heathman
Equestrian College Advisor, Randi Heathman

When it comes to horses and college counseling, Randi takes the lead.

Randi is founder of Equestrian College Advisor. If you’re a college-bound teen and an equestrian, check out the recap below of the top questions and answers about choosing a college with a college riding program.

If you’ve never ridden a horse, it’s not too late. Explore the opportunities while on your next campus visit. Our complete transcript for #CampusChat is available on Storify.


Q1 What is an “intercollegiate equestrian”? #campuschat 

  • An intercollegiate #equestrian is someone who competes on a school team in any number of equestrian disciplines.
  • Typically, s/he competes in western, hunt seat, dressage, eventing, saddle seat, or polo events.

Q2 How should an equestrian student begin their college search? #campuschat

  • Look at the school FIRST! Make sure your academic, social, & #financialaid needs are met before you look @ riding.
  • Also, learn about different intercollegiate #equestrian offerings – what will be required, what competitions are like.
  • There are 400+ #colleges that participate in intercollegiate #equestrian –you’re sure to find several that meet your needs!
  • But the academic and #equestrian balance is crucial – at graduation, you need a degree, not just blue ribbons.

Q3 What makes for a good college riding program? #campuschat

  • A good program sets forth clear expectations for riders & educates them about horsemanship & teamwork.
  • Good programs put safety first and help students set and accomplish goals for themselves as riders & students.

Q4 What should I ask on my campus visit about boarding my horse? #campuschat 

  • Ask questions that are most pertinent to your horse’s current living arrangement.
  • Ask about turnout, feeding, vet & farrier scheduling. Who handles the horses? What will be required of you each day?
  • When are you allowed to ride? Will your horse become part of the school lesson program? What if you can’t make it to the barn?
  • Also find out who gets first preference for stalls – often, seniors or serious competitors get first preference.

Q5 Are there equestrian scholarships? #campuschat

  • There are some. Riding #scholarships tend to be smaller but can help to offset lesson costs.
  • As with any sport, however, academic scholarships are the biggest and the best bet.
  • (Math tutors earn students more #scholarship money every year than athletic coaches and showcases.)

Q6 Do I have to be in the animal/vet program to work in the barn? #campuschat

  • It depends on the school, to be honest. Some schools prefer their equine majors get the experience.
  • Other schools will hire those w/the right skills or give preference to riding team members regardless of major.
  • If the school barn isn’t hiring, there may be a local barn looking for help if you have transportation.

Q7 What are the different horse-riding programs (polo, dressage, jumping)? #campuschat 

  • So many different types!!!
  • The majority of the more traditional programs focus on hunt seat (flat & fences), western (horsemanship & reining), & dressage.
  • Certain pockets of the country feature polo, rodeo, and even saddle seat.
  • Three-day eventing is also one of the fastest-growing intercollegiate #equestrian disciplines.
  • A handful of schools even teach natural horsemanship techniques.

Q8 I’m heading to college, is it too late to learn how to ride horses, or play polo in college? #campuschat

  • It’s never too late to start! In particular, @IHSAinc teams need beginner riders and often have a difficult time finding them!
  • (Countless non-horsey roommates are introduced to the sport because of this every year!)
  • Even as a beginner, include a meeting with the #equestrian team coach on your #campusvisit – ask how you can get started.
  • Many riding instructors love to introduce new people to the sport and would enjoy including students in that number.

Q9 What type of colleges have better riding/barns (large vs. small, private vs. public)? #campuschat

  • Intercollegiate #equestrian teams are found at schools of all shapes & sizes and in all regions.
  • There are also many women’s #colleges with long #equestrian traditions.
  • For a student seeking intercollegiate #equestrian experience, it’s crucial to search with an open mind about school type.
  • The @IHSAinc homepage is updated each fall with a list of the competing schools. You can use it for a quick reference.
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