The Ontario University Equestrian Association or OUEA is a university equestrian league in the province of Ontario. It was developed to give Ontario university students an opportunity to participate in equestrian sports amongst their peers. The OUEA welcomes riders of all skill levels; offering hunter seat equitation classes from beginner to advanced riders. The OUEA is team-focused, but allows for personal growth and learning. It allows any university student to participate in horse shows regardless of the rider's beginning skill level, financial status, or past riding experience. Both men and women are eligible to compete and there are currently 11 participating universities in Ontario. The league was modeled after the American IHSA.
Within the OUEA, riders compete in Hunter Seat Equitation. There are 4 different levels of competition; Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, and Open. All riders compete both on the flat and over fences. Unlike the majority of equestrian sports, it is a catch ride with riders normally have not ridden their horse before entering the ring. Horses are donated by the show hosts and assigned randomly by a draw, subject to the division. Competitors watch as their horses are warmed up by experienced volunteers to gain information on how the horse rides and any issues they may have to deal with. Riders then mount their horse and are led into the ring by a handler on the ground, at which time they pick up the reins and judging begins.
Currently, 11 universities in Ontario have participating teams. They are:
- Brock University, St. Catharines
- McMaster University, Hamilton
- Queen's University, Kingston
- Trent University, Peterborough
- University of Guelph, Guelph
- University of Ottawa, Ottawa
- University of Toronto, Toronto
- University of Waterloo, Waterloo
- University of Western Ontario, London
- Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo
- York University, Toronto
Riders are judged on their equitation, meaning that each rider is individually judged on his or her effectiveness as a rider, ability to look aesthically pleasing (ie. posture and positioning on the horse), and ability to make riding a horse seem easy and effortless. Divisions are based upon ability and experience to allow riders compete against people of similar skill levels
Individual ribbons correspond to points, which combine for a team score. Each team preselects one point rider per class. Riders who score three first place ribbons over fences in a season must move up a division the following season.
Points are as follows:
Finals and Gala
The season ends with Finals, generally some time before the exam season begins. The top rider in each class from each school automatically qualifies, provided they achieve a minimum number of points (currently 5). Wild card spots are also available for top riders who do not otherwise qualify. The evening after Finals, a year end semi-formal Gala is held, where awards such as high point team, school spirit award, supporter of the year, and horse of the year are presented.