NCAA equestrian teams and IHSA college teams
I'm starting to look at college and I'm just trying to decide if I even have a shot at getting on one of these teams. One of the things that realllyyy concerns me is that their official shows are hunter shows. I'm a jumper.
What do you think it takes to ride on either of these teams? I know NCAA is much harder than the IHSA college teams to get into. I looked up some shows of both on youtube, and NCAA does fences about a foot and half higher than the ones I do, and the IHSA teams I saw does "get on strange horse and jump a course without practicing on the horse" (forget what you call it) often. I know I could do the second one now if I was really lucky, but I would still have to practice hard to do this for real.
What should I have really perfected to be a good candidate? What kind of fences should I be jumping?
I did IHSA in college so I don't know a whole lot about NCAA teams... but I believe college teams are equitation, not hunters. So if you're purely a jumper you won't be completely out of your element, even if most of your teammates come from a hunter background. You can go to their website to get more information. In the meantime I would really put a big focus on your position, riding as effectively as possible (meaning, lots of dressage), and getting on as many different horses as you can. Also, if it's a possibility I'd try and show as much as you can with a very good equitation instructor. The difficultly of getting on a team depends more on the school, not if it's IHSA or NCAA. I know NCAA teams that just about anyone can get on and IHSA teams that are extremely difficult (You basically have to be successful in the big eqs on the A circuit to even get a chance). IHSA has 3 separate levels of jumping and when I was in college w/t/c teams too. I'd also call the coaches of the teams your interested in (or better yet, go visit in person!) and talk with her about your background and what you need to be doing to prepare. I think Horse Illustrated just had an article this month on IHSA teams...
Unfortunately I do not have access to a good equitation teacher. My current barn isn't the best, but I can't really leave. I'm highly self taught, but that's not to say badly taught. A lot of the things I'm best at are things I taught myself off this forum.
Sorry, I shouldn't say that there are NCAA teams that are a total cake walk to get on... it's just dependent on your school's riding program and not accurate to say all NCAA is more difficult, all IHSA is easier. (remember, Beezie Madden showed in IHSA!) I went to a college that had a huge riding program, but they had try outs for the "show team" at the beginning of the year which only had like 6 girls on it. Anyone else who wanted to go to the shows had to try out for an extra spot on the trailer, every time there was a show. So only those select girls could call them selves the "equestrian team". I was not a part of the team, although I did get a chance to show. The girls on the team showed at the top equitation finals in the country with the top trainers. They were tough to beat. The school in my current state has an NCAA team and they accept like 50 girls onto their "team". But not everyone shows. I know a girl who's currently on the team. She does not have a lot of show experience and hadn't jumped much over 2"6 before college. Does she get to show a lot? Prob not. But she's on the team. Because it's NCAA though they are more stringent on certain rules, but doesn't mean it's harder to get on. For example they're very strict about being an amateur. If you grew up showing in the jumpers and won over a certain amount of prize money, you're no longer elligible. Whereas IHSA follows USEF's rules on being an amateur: as long as you aren't paid to ride, it doesn't matter how much money you've won. Also, the state school here getting on the team is more then just riding ability. You have to be able to run a mile in under a certain amount of minutes, work out a certain number of hours a week, your GPA has to be a certain number, etc. They're considered part of the "athletic program". So it'd probably be easiest for you to contact schools directly and get more information on what their program is like.
Wow, that's really cool! I never knew there was so much depth to it...
Also, random question. Is it inappropriate to take a "test ride" at a college you're applying to? A paid lesson, that is. I know of some colleges that would forbid it completely, but are all that way?
It's definitely an experience! Good for some people, some people don't love it.
I don't know about taking lessons... I would think more would not do it then do it, simply because the horses are used for their classes and their teams. They may not want a bunch of outside riders coming into the barn. It's always worth asking. I don't know of any schools that don't allow you to come and watch their lessons though. I went on a "college tour" and checked out a bunch of barns. Most gave me a one on one tour of their facilities, I met with the coaches, talked with students, saw their horses, etc. A fun experience!
That's what I thought. If I plan on riding on a team (almost definitely) then I'll ask, but if they don't let me I'm perfectly content watching a lesson. I'm more of a "do it yourself" type, not so much watching and understanding. We'll see. Thanks for all your help!
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