Hot-shot equestrians, whether English or Western schooled, are welcomed into college programs around the country. Even the Rodeo scene includes some hotly contested scholarships. Now an Emerging Sport in the NCAA, equestrian pursuits are drawing more and more attention from scholarship administrators, as equestrian programs position themselves to attract top talent.
When you’re shopping for an equestrian team, it helps to know which programs offer your equestrian class: hunter seat (including flat and fences), western, eventing, and dressage. The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, Inc. maintains a comprehensive regional listing of college equestrian teams, as well as statistics about each school’s equitation class and team size.
The NCAA limits equestrian scholarships to 15 per college or university – NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II— that operate programs according to the NCAA Emerging Sport of Equestrian Women’s protocols. Equine scholarship eligibility requirements vary across individual schools, so interested applicants are encouraged to contact individual programs for the most current information. As an NCAA Equivalency Sport, equestrian programs are allowed to divide scholarships into partial awards, as a way to distribute scholarship dollars among greater numbers of players.
There are some very well-respected and fiercely competitive equestrian programs among Division III colleges, but athletic scholarships for D3 schools are prohibited by NCAA rules. In order to draw top talent, Division III colleges use alternative scholarships that reward students for academic performance. As a rule, scholar-athletes are well-positioned for landing college aid, but it is imperative to put forth a strong GPA if you expect to get a scholarship at a strong equestrian school in Division III. Financial need also plays a role in evaluating scholarship candidates at Division III colleges. Stand-out riders, with financial hardship and strong high school transcripts are marked for scholarship assistance.