The College Prep Invitational

Next weekend (January 13-15) marks the return of the College Preparatory Invitational Horse Show (the CPI Horse Show, for short) to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida.  It also marks the addition of dressage to the schedule, which in previous years has been limited only to classes in hunt seat over fences and on the flat – a change that clearly indicates the popularity and growth of this event since its creation.  (Word on the street is that western classes will be offered in future years.)

But what is the CPI Horse Show all about?  Is it valuable if you’re a high school equestrian who wants to ride at the next level?

And (perhaps more importantly!), if you are unable to make the trip to Wellington this year or next, will it seriously affect your chances of riding in college or securing a riding scholarship?

Let’s go one question at a time, shall we?

The mission statement of the CPI Horse Show states:  “The mission of the CPI is to prepare and educate student riders in grades 8 – 12 about the format of college equestrian competition, encourage academics and horsemanship, and to provide the riders with resources to create their desired college equestrian experience.  The show is specifically geared to promote college recruitment of equestrians by providing the opportunity for coaches and potential students to meet.”

Cool concept, right?  Check out their video for even more:

So is the horse show valuable?  Absolutely!  I don’t know of any other event in the United States where high school riders can find such a wealth of intercollegiate equestrian knowledge, information, and support all in one location.  In addition, the opportunity to ride in a collegiate format and utilize the draw system for the first time (if you aren’t already participating in the IEA) can be invaluable as you begin to move away from a more traditional horse show environment and introduce yourself to the team system that is unique to the IHSA and the IDA.

The horse show isn’t solely focused on the riding aspect of college, either.  (And as someone who works with student-equestrians every day, I’m particularly glad of that fact!)  Speakers and respected experts in the fields of student academics, admissions, and financial aid are also brought in so that students and parents are able to gain a sense of what the whole picture is when it comes to the college search, admission, and enrollment process.

But what about if you are unable to make the trip to Wellington to participate in this one-of-a-kind experience?  Will missing out make or break your college riding experience?

Sloane Milstein of College Riding 101 is another great resource for prospective collegiate equestrians.

Not at all – and here’s why:

The CPI Horse Show accepts limited entries every year, so only about 50 students get the opportunity participate.  (Entries are limited due to the availability of space, staff, volunteers, and horses – and understandably so.)  In addition, this year, only about 24 colleges and universities will make their way down to Wellington to recruit at the event – which leaves somewhere in the neighborhood of about 400 other colleges and universities with equestrian teams who won’t be able to see the riders at the CPI Horse Show perform.

The summary?

Not every single equestrian program in the nation will be represented in Wellington next weekend – just as not every high school rider who wishes to participate on a college equestrian team is able to make the trip.  So if you can’t go south, make sure that you’re doing everything else in your power to make yourself an appealing candidate for an intercollegiate riding team:  get good grades (or great ones if possible!), ride as many horses as you’re able to (catch riding is a necessary skill for any intercollegiate equestrian), and start thinking about what type of college will fit you after high school graduation.

Want further help?  Sloane Milstein of College Riding 101 is happy to help you brush up on the riding skills that will be most beneficial to you in college and I’m here to help with the search and application process.

(In fact, the only thing that the CPI Horse Show can give you that Sloane and I can’t assist with is your tan.)


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