So last spring in my junior year of high school I began to contemplate where I wanted to go to college. This process began a bit different for me as a rider than many students. I didn’t start with a family alumni association. I didn’t start looking for a specific program. I first looked for a trainer! One of the key factors for me was that I find a trainer during the next 5 years that would be able to help me meet my riding and therefore professional goals. I searched through the web and made a list of what are considered industry standard top trainers in Dressage. I then researched those trainers. I went to their clinics. I talked to their students. I narrowed the search to about five that I felt I could really grow and excel with. Then I drew a one hour 35 mile radius around their training facilities and searched for colleges within that travel distance. I made lists of what those colleges were. I then researched those colleges. What were their programs like? Did they have a riding team or club? What were their admission requirements? After all of this work I had narrowed the search to three trainers and three colleges. I then contact the United States Equestrian Federation Youth Coach Jeremy Steinberg asking for his advice. I also said my search had led me to him. He agreed and offered a spot for me in his barn. Here I am 9 months later living in Washington, applying to UW and friending the UW equestrian team.
I think about all the other riders my age and their struggles to get an education and keep up their love of horses and the sport. This is very difficult as both school and training are time consuming. They are also both expensive. How do we pay for both? How do we manage both? The USEF is attempting to recognize these questions and to help. They have begun a great help and information on their website for college bound riders. Go to the www.usef.org homepage. On the left click Membership and then Youth Programs. When this opens on the top right click Collegiate. Now you have access to information on all 5 collegiate riding groups under the USEF umbrella. There is also a college guide that has useful information on how to use riding and your riding goals on your admissions and scholarship applications! There is also a section on scholarship guidance and best of all a college search engine. This allows you to put in information about you and your goals and gives you feedback on the colleges that meet your criteria.
We should be able to (with some planning and proactive work) get to meet both our educational and riding goals!