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Equestrian Scholarship Guidance

How to Put Yourself in the Running for the Equestrian College Education of Your Dreams

By Lori Teresa Yearwood

Two young women stand in the practice arena. Few years separate them. Yet already, one of them is a professional trainer, rider and teacher. Thanks to a solid college education, she is living her dreams. The other, a USEF jumper on the A circuit, longs to be a professional equestrian. But self-confidence eludes her. "I know I can do better," she tells her teacher with a frown. Seventeen, the young woman hopes to earn the kind of scholarship and college experience the other has earned. Day after day, the two come to this Illinois barn to practice. And day after day, Laura Baldine tells her student the very truths that won her the scholarship that paved the way to the life she now has.

"Remember, you are not just a number. There are always people who will turn you down. But if you don’t keep trying, you won’t get to where you want to go," Baldine said to the younger woman.

Every year, thousands of equestrian students across the country apply for admission to colleges so that they can put their passion, knowledge and skills to use in the profes-sional horse world. Along the way, thousands receive financial assistance. After over-coming rejection and battling her own self doubt, Baldine, who nailed down an annual $8,000 academic scholarship at Findlay University in Ohio, refers to herself as "one of the lucky ones."

"That money really helped my family with tuition," she said.

Indeed, countless college applicants would never be able to afford the costs of college tuition—which now averages up to $30,000 per year for a private four-year college—without scholarships. So perhaps "luck" did somehow play a role in Baldine’s success. But that luck would have gotten her nowhere if she had not been prepared to be in the right place at the right time, which to some people, is the very definition of luck.

Regardless, in today’s world of rising tuition costs, boarding and housing costs, the road to an equestrian scholarship is paved with planning and preparation.