Is Your Horse College Bound?
As a college coach, one of the most frequently asked questions I hear from student prospects is “Can I bring my horse to college?” Although this is a common question, the answer was always dependent on the student’s equestrian goals while at college. If the rider is trying to be a recruited athlete, then I would suggest leaving the horse at home. I would also recommend that this not be a question you ask on your first visit if you are trying to obtain a riding scholarship (a topic to be addressed in a separate entry).
Most coaches, athletes, and alumni will agree that it is not a great idea for any rider to have their horse at school during their freshman year. As a freshman, there are numerous adjustments, new routines, academic priorities, orientations, as well as additional athletic obligations if participating on a team (practices, study halls, fitness sessions, meetings, competitions, etc.). Often freshman are not allowed to have cars on campus, so if a facility is not within walking distance, this may present additional logistical problems.
However, for many riders there will be a right time to bring a horse to school. Depending on the balance between your academic and riding goals, these times will vary by individual. Consider the following questions when trying to make the decision of whether or not to bring your horse to school, or leave him or her at home with a trusted friend or family member:
Benefits and Goals:
What are the benefits of having your horse at school?
Will it further a specific riding goal?
Will your horse help you relax when academic obligations are demanding?
Will having your horse at school cause you more stress and guilt when you are pressed for time?
Do your training goals require your horse to be with you or can instruction continue with your trainer at home?
Team or Club Participation:
Do you want to participate on a team?
What are the team policies on bringing a horse to the program?
How much time will you be expected to commit to the team?
Will there be time after your athletic obligations to get to your academics and still ride your horse?
How are your time management skills?
What are the transportation options?
Are there facilities close by?
Will the facility accept a horse that will only be boarded for a semester or the school year?
What are the full care/self care options?
Are finances an issue?
What is the cost of leaving the horse at home vs. the cost of bringing the horse to school?
If it is not the right time to part with your horse, can he/she be leased to help cover the cost of upkeep or the cost of college?
With 400 equestrian programs you will find the right fit for you and your horse, just keep an open mind and consider all the options.
Sloane Milstein is a former NCAA and IHSA College Equestrian Coach and Athletic Administrator. Currently she is pursuing her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership in Southern Connecticut State University, she is a USEF & IEA Steward, and the author of The High School Equestrian’s Guide To College Riding. To purchase the book or seek additional guidance go to www.CollegeRiding101.com.