Riding Programs | US Equestrian
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It is important to understand the different college riding programs and what they offer. Many colleges offer athletic scholarships to riders regardless of the intercollegiate program they participate in. Club sports tend to be run and funded by the students who pay all associated costs and do the paper work. Check with the college about their policy and any expenses you or they will cover.


Intercollegiate Organizations



American National Riding Commission - ANRC 

ANRC is an affiliate of the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) and alliance partner of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). The primary goal of ANRC is to promote the American System of Forward Riding and to promote the highest quality of educated riding and related services within schools, colleges, universities, and public or private riding establishments. ANRC offers two competitive programs that focus on developing excellence in riding skill, knowledge of riding theory, and the horse’s performance.

ANRC National Intercollegiate Equitation Championship

The ANRC Intercollegiate Equitation Championship, traditionally held in April, is a National championship where colleges showcase their most talented riders in a team competition judged and scored on equitation skills in four phases:

  • A Program Ride (includes USEF Hunter Equitation Tests)
  • A Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Course at 3’
  • A Derby Course (natural jumps in a field) at 3’
  • A Written test based on riding theory and stable management

Students may compete on a college-owned horse or a privately owned horse. The highest score in each phase will be awarded to the rider who demonstrates excellence in equitation and produces a smooth, cooperative performance exemplifying quality hunter movement both on the flat and over fences. In addition to the National Division level of competition, a Novice Division at 2’6” provides an introductory level of competition for riders with similar goals.

ANRC Junior Horsemanship Challenge and National Championship

The ANRC Junior Horsemanship Challenge is a team competition for schools and organizations with students in grades 6 through 12. The competition is modeled after the ANRC National Intercollegiate Equitation Championship and conducted in the three or phases as described above.

Each academic year, member schools and organizations that participate in ANRC Junior Horsemanship Challenge local team competitions can qualify for the annual ANRC Junior Horsemanship Challenge National Championship held annually in May. Throughout the year, coaches are encouraged to incorporate forward riding theory and sound stable management practices to improve the rider’s mounted and unmounted horsemanship skills. Students are encouraged to set personal goals as well as team goals, study ANRC materials, practice fundamentals, and apply knowledge.

Visit www.anrc.org for more information.


Intercollegiate Dressage Association - IDA

The Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) is a national organization founded in 2001 that provides a format for students to make dressage part of their college experience. Each academic year riders representing colleges throughout the US and Canada earn individual or team points that count towards regional standings and qualification for national finals.

IDA riders compete in Introductory, Lower Training, Upper Training, and First Level as individuals and as team members. IDA teams consist of 4 riders (one for each level) who earn points that count towards the team total to determine placing. Points earned at each show accumulate throughout the season.

IDA competitions are judged by USEF or USDF rated judges in accordance with USEF rules. Unlike any other form of competitive dressage, IDA offers the added challenge of competing on unfamiliar horses provided by the host college and assigned by random draw. Each rider is allowed a 10 minute warm up before entering the ring to be judged.

At the end of each academic year, the IDA hosts a national championship for those teams and individual riders who win their respective regions. Twelve teams and twelve individual riders in each of the four levels compete for a wide array of trophies and prizes including dressage saddles.

IDA’s approach brings added fun and challenge to the sport of dressage while providing college riders an affordable means of competing as part of a team. Riders do not have to own a horse or tack to participate and previous dressage experience is not required.

At least 55 colleges are members which field teams for IDA, providing over 700 riders in total to the program. Among those colleges many also offer riding scholarships

For more information please visit the IDA website teamdressage.com.


Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association - IHSA

The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) promotes competition for riders of all skill levels, who compete individually and as teams, at Regional, Zone, and National levels.

The IHSA was founded in 1967, based on a competitive prototype created by then Fairleigh Dickinson College sophomore, Robert E. Cacchione, on the principle that any college student should be able to participate in horse shows regardless of his or her financial status or riding level.

The IHSA emphasis is on learning, sportsmanship, and teamwork. The objective of IHSA is to offer students the chance to compete, as individuals and as members of a team, whether they are in their first years of riding or are seasoned competitors. Eliminating the expense of shipping or even owning horses puts IHSA competition within reach of many who might otherwise miss the equestrian experience.

Since its beginning, with just two intercollegiate competing colleges, today's IHSA is an organization that encompasses 39 Regions in 8 Zones with more than 400 member colleges in 47 states and parts of Canada - representing more than 9000 riders in Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship, and Reining.

Teams that advance to Nationals represent their Zone for National Champion Team honors: winning the Collegiate Cup for the Hunter Seat division and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Trophy in the Western division. Individual riders advancing to Nationals compete for top honors in their division, and Regional high point riders are eligible for National Individual Championships in Hunter Seat and Western.

For more information, visit the official IHSA website ihsainc.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

IHSA Membership Requirements

IHSA requires their riders to be members of the United States Hunter Jumper Association. To join USHJA, visit ushja.org/membership/member.aspx. Membership with USEF is not required.


Intercollegiate Saddle Seat Riding Association - ISSRA

The Intercollegiate Saddle Seat Riding Association, Inc. (ISSRA) was founded in January 2008 by Sally Haydon, Ph.D. in Lexington, Kentucky. Development of the organization was prompted by ten college students from Eastern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, Georgetown College, Morehead State University and Art Institute Online, who expressed interest in the formation of an organization promoting saddle seat riding and showing for college students.

The mission of ISSRA is to establish saddle seat riding teams at colleges and universities across the United States providing beginners through experienced and/or advanced riders with an opportunity to learn to ride or continue their riding and showing throughout college without the necessity of owning a horse while in college.

Each ISSRA team is paired with a local riding school or academy that serves as the team’s home base and provides riding instruction and team practices, horses and coaching at ISSRA horse shows. Beginners (with little or no horse experience) through advanced riders (who have won World or National Championships) are eligible to join ISSRA. ISSRA is the first intercollegiate equestrian program to offer saddle seat riding.


National Collegiate Equestrian Association - NCEA (NCAA Emerging Sport)

The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA), formerly known as Varsity Equestrian, in concert with the mission and vision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), is committed to providing collegiate opportunities for female equestrian student-athletes to compete at the highest level, while embracing equity, diversity and promoting academic and competitive excellence. NCAA Equestrian student-athletes, coaches, and programs adhere to their respective NCAA Division rules and regulations. Currently 23 colleges and universities sponsor equestrian as an NCAA emerging sport with more being added each year.

The NCEA features a head-to-head team competition format in four events: Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat and Over Fences, Western Horsemanship and Reining. Student-athletes from each team are matched by random draw prior to the meet for each event. Horses are designated by event to be ridden by each pair of opposing student-athletes competing head-to-head. The rider receiving the higher score from the judges earns a point for her team. The team with the most combined points from the four events is the winner.

The NCEA National Championship is held in April each year. Qualification for this seeded bracket championship requires participation in a minimum of five NCEA head-to-head meets during the regular season. The NCEA National Champion is determined by competition between the two teams that advanced from the semifinal meets.

The NCEA promotes the advancement of NCAA Equestrian within college athletics. With the uniting of many in the horse industry to support NCAA Equestrian, reaching the required 40 sponsoring schools to advance Equestrian from NCAA Emerging to NCAA Championship sport status is in our future.

For more information, please visit our website collegiateequestrian.com.


USEA Intercollegiate Eventing

In 2014, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors approved the creation of the Intercollegiate Eventing Program as an official program of the USEA. Originally proposed with input from the Intercollegiate Eventing League, the program was established to provide a framework on which eventing teams and individual competition could flourish at universities and colleges across the country. Collegiate athletic programs have been the training grounds for Olympians, amateur athletes and professional athletes for generations. Enabling students to train in the Olympic sport of eventing is a natural addition

Intercollegiate Team Challenges are quickly becoming popular additions to recognized horse trials in the United States. Teams competing in events identified as Intercollegiate Team Challenges are able to self-identify to the competition organizer, and will compete in the regular horse trial competition as individuals. Combining their individual scores, their team scores will be tabulated and matched against other teams. An inaugural Intercollegiate Championship will take place in 2016. The USEA encourages all schools to send as many competitors as possible. The event offers Beginner Novice – Advanced/Intermediate levels as well as CCI1* and CIC2* divisions. There are no qualifications necessary for this championship.

For more information about the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program please visit www.useventing.com/membership/intercollegiate.