Riding Your Way to a College Scholarship

Riding Your Way to a College Scholarship
NW Horse Source

Hard Work and Preparation Bring Opportunity for College Bound Equestrians

By Kim Lansidel and Sally Sutherland

Holly Lansidel attends Southern Methodist University, credit: John O’Hara

Two Washington State riders, Graysen Stroud of Snohomish and Holly Lansidel of Roy, have successfully landed spots on National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) teams. Although both have major accomplishments in their disciplines, it was being in the right place at the right time that helped them get their foot in the door. “Early planning, being proactive, and hard work is the first step,” said Holly. Both young ladies offered insight into how to pursue the dream of riding for a college with a scholarship.

The NCEA has four disciplines: hunt seat equitation over fences, hunt seat equation on the flat, western horsemanship and western reining.

Since coaches are not allowed to contact any possible recruits until September 1st of their junior year of high school (NCAA rules), it is important candidates start contacting schools they’re interested in attending by their freshman or sophomore year of high school. Candidates should reach out often to prospective colleges so the coaches can recognize them from the hundreds of candidates they view. Basically, candidates must market themselves in order to have coaches remember them.

Email is the best way to contact coaches as they are unable to return phone calls due to NCAA restrictions. Some candidates go as far as establishing their own websites, blog accomplishments, posting pictures and videos or using Facebook to market themselves. Both are sources for recruiters to discover information about individuals and possible athletic candidates.

Holly felt that taking the SAT and ACT tests in her junior year was very helpful. Both Graysen and Holly stressed that having strong academic skills, being active in local youth associations, and having extracurricular activities beyond their horse skills were important factors in their selection.

Graysen Stroud is at the University of Georgia, credit: Taylor Carmen

College coaches get hundreds of videos a year from possible recruits. When asked, Trista Adkins of Southern Methodist University said, “Make sure the quality of your video is good. Coaches need videos that make it easy to see your seat and hands, so be sure the video is close-up enough for good evaluation.” Your videos should show you in your respective discipline—showing a horse, schooling through patterns at home, working a cow, jumping jumps. Coaches want to see how you can work through problems on a more finished horse (not necessarily on babies, but it’s nice to know you can ride one). Pictures, videos, a resume of your accomplishments (on horses, in school and in your community), your future goals, and your school grades are all important. Coaches want to know you will be a contributing team member of many facets.

Holly, who rides reining horses, was noticed at the Jordan Larson clinic and then went to the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby where she was noticed by more recruiters.

Graysen, who does horsemanship and reining, was at a show while the recruiter was there looking at other candidates. Attending big shows certainly helps, but isn’t always necessary.

Graysen, a sophomore at The University of Georgia, says not to overlook the smaller schools as they may not get as many applicants and often times you get a better chance at competing on smaller squads.

Both girls stress knowing the rules and deadlines. In the application process you will get a lot of questions that seem irrelevant and there are many requirements like letters of recommendation from sponsors; knowing about these ahead of time can save last minute stress.

Holly noted things happen really fast; you get contacted and need to make a decision by a deadline. Know ahead of time your options and consider your offers carefully. She already knew Southern Methodist University (SMU) was where she wanted to go, so when the offer came she was prepared to accept.

NCEA scholarships are offered most often with a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to attend college and must be offered and signed by the specified dates. If you sign an NLI with a college, then other institutions can no longer try to recruit you.

Look into local clubs and breed organizations for scholarship monies too, as all scholarships help reduce the cost of attending college.

Additional resources:

Kim Lansidel competes as a non pro and is a NRHA judge, 2001 NRHA Intermediate Non Pro Futurity Champion, and multiple finalist at the NRBC, NRHA Derby and NRHA Futurity. Kim has coached her daughter, Holly, to ride, train and show reining horses. Holly has several big wins, including the 2016 NRHA Derby youth and restricted youth divisions, multiple regional affiliate championship and several NAAC top tens. This ultimately led Holly to a college equestrian scholarship.

Published September 2016 Issue

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