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Varsity Equestrian

Varsity Equestrian competition is a recently added NCAA sport that offers collegiate women the chance to compete against schools around the nation. It was added as a sport in 1998; currently there are 23 schools competing.[1]


Competition Format

Schools are organized throughout the year into season schedules that allow for head to head competitions resulting in ranking and seeding for the national title.

Typically, five varsity riders compete against the opposing team. Home team schools can delegate the number of junior varsity riders that may accompany the varsity team to compete as well. One rider from each school are randomly paired and assigned a horse to then compete in a “head-to-head” match. Competitors are matched to a horse belonging to the home team and are allowed to watched sanctioned warm ups where horses are schooled over fences as well as warmed up for the flat test to be performed. Riders are then given 4 minutes for English events as well as horsemanship, and 5 minutes for reining. Riders competing in Equitation over Fences are allowed to take 4 practice fences within the 4 minutes of warm ups. If the rider jumps more than 4 fences, she is disqualified from the show. Whichever rider earns the highest score on that horse wins the head-to-head match and scores a point for that team. Neither team receives the point if the two riders are given a tie score. If there is a tie in the overall competition, raw scores given by the judge are added up and used to determine the winner. In some cases, the lowest score from each team may be dropped. :[2]

Equitation on the Flat

Riders selected to compete in Equitation on the Flat demonstrate a predetermined test that is performed in a dressage arena measuring 20 meters by 40 meters. The riders must demonstrate a precise, well executed and actuate test while staying in harmonious balance with the horse they’ve drawn to compete upon. Testing is judged on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 meaning “not performed” to 10 marking “excellent”. Riders will perform 9 required movements and a final judge’s test. The highest score a rider can receive is 100, and will receive marks for their overall correctness and position throughout the test. :[3]

Equitation over Fences

Riders selected to compete in Equitation over Fences will show over a course of 8 to 10 fences in which the rider must navigate the correct course as well as maintaining proper body positioning throughout the round. The rider should be able to have a consistent pace around the course and be able to safely jump over the fences without stopping or falling from her horse.


In horsemanship, the horse and rider perform a pattern in which different maneuvers and the horse’s different gaits are exhibited. The base score for a pattern is 70, and the judge will score each of the 7-9 maneuvers anywhere from -1.5 to +1.5. The positive score indicates that a movement is above average in execution and the negative score deducts points for poor execution. Penalties are given if a horse kicks out, lopes on the wrong lead, or otherwise detracts from the uniformity of the performance. It is possible for a rider to receive a score of zero if mistakes such as going off-pattern (adding or subtracting elements from the original pattern) are made. :[4]


Unlike horsemanship patterns, reining patterns include spins and sliding stops performed by the horse and rider. In reining, a score starts 70 and can be higher or lower depending on the quality of the ride. Riders perform movements that include: fast circles, slow circles, spins and sliding stops. Going off-pattern results in a score of zero. over- or under-spinning by more than a quarter of a turn is also given a score of zero. :[5]

Schools Participating in Varsity Competition

Division I:

Auburn University, Baylor University, Brown University, [California State University (Fresno)][1] College of Charleston, Cornell University, Delaware State University, University of Georgia, Kansas State University, New Mexico State University, Oklahoma State University, Sacred Heart University, University of South Carolina, South Dakota State University Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, University of Tennessee (Martin), Texas A&M University

Division II: University of Minnesota (Crookston), Pace University, Seton Hill, Stonehill College, West Texas A&M University:[6]

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Rules and Eligibility

As a prospective athlete, students wishing to attend a Division I or II institution must be eligible before competing within collegiate athletics. One form in specific that should be downloaded by the prospective athlete is called the “Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete”. There students will be able to look over the requirements more in depth. Most importantly, the student must still be an amateur to compete.

Coaches may send out written contacts as of September 1 of the athlete’s junior year but may not return phone calls prior to July 1 of the athlete’s senior year. If an athlete is on an official visit they must be seniors, however, trips made at the athlete’s personal expense may take place before their senior years. Each type of visit may not be during a dead period in schooling at the university.

2008 Varsity Equestrian National Championship Results

Western Team Finishes: 1. TCU 2. Georgia 3. Kansas State 4. Oklahoma State 5. Texas A&M

Hunter Seat Team Finishes 1. Auburn 2. Texas A&M 3. Georgia 4. Oklahoma State 5. South Carolina

Overall National Champion: Georgia

Overall VENC Team Standings

1. Georgia 2. Texas A&M 3. Auburn 4. Oklahoma State 5. Kansas State

Individual Champions: Hunter Seat

Equitation Over Fences: Kristin Terebesi - South Carolina

Equitation on the Flat: Kristin Terebesi - South Carolina

Western Horsemanship: Caroline Gunn - Texas A&M

Reining: Sarah Locker - Georgia


  1. Varsity Equestrian. 12 Dec. 2008 .>
  2. Varsity Equestrian. 12 Dec. 2008 .>
  3. Varsity Equestrian. 12 Dec. 2008 .>
  4. Varsity Equestrian. 12 Dec. 2008 .>
  5. Varsity Equestrian. 12 Dec. 2008 .>
  6. Varsity Equestrian. 12 Dec. 2008 .>

1. "Universities" from varsityequestrian.com. Obtained December 3, 2008.

External links

  • [varsityequestrian.com NCAA Equestrian website]


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