The October 1st issue of The Chronicle of the Horse is the magazine’s annual intercollegiate issue – one that is eagerly awaited by not only current college students and coaches, but also by many prospective intercollegiate equestrians and their parents. For them in particular, the issue is in many ways the equivalent of attending an equestrian college fair right from the comfort of their own homes.
As an independent educational consultant, I love the issue for the same reasons that my clients do. Turn the pages and you’ll find ads that focus on the highlighting features of many of the best known – as well as up-and-coming – equestrian programs that are scattered across the United States and Canada. Whether they ride hunt seat, western, dressage – or even play polo! – the schools put forth their best pictures, tout their competitive records, and include witty taglines to gain the attention (and hopefully the applications!) of the type of students they hope to recruit.
I use the issue for two professional purposes each time it arrives in my mailbox: first, as an opportunity to read the features and stories about many of the leading colleges and universities in the U.S. (like this year’s feature on the 2012 IHSA National Championship team from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York) and second, so I can read the advertisements and see what the schools are saying about their programs.
Some are classics – Cazenovia College (Cazenovia, New York) and Virginia Intermont (Bristol, Virginia) have consistently run the same ads for the last few years. Both have long-standing programs with consistent competitive records, so they focus on tradition and longevity in their advertising.
Other ads are time-sensitive – for example, Mississippi College (Clinton, Mississippi) has an ad this year that invites students to attend their upcoming equestrian program showcase on November 3rd.
Still others are focused on a school’s academic offerings for prospective equine majors. Both Otterbein College (Westerville, Ohio) and Lake Erie College (Painesville, Ohio) focus on the experiential side of their equestrian educational experience and the types of careers awaiting those who want to work in the equine industry after graduation.
Then there are always features on the “new kids on the block” – schools like my alma mater Albion College (Albion, Michigan), which has only had an equestrian program since 2004, or others like St. Timothy’s School (Stevenson, Maryland), a high school which welcomed a new riding director to campus this fall.
With nearly 400 colleges and universities that participate in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) (to say nothing of the 30-plus intercollegiate dressage teams, 23 varsity equestrian teams, and other college riding organizations!) and only about 20 of them having paid to advertise in this latest issue of The Chronicle of the Horse, the scope of the magazine’s college offerings is somewhat limited – but that being said, the most important element of the intercollegiate issue isn’t the handful of schools that are featured. Instead, prospective intercollegiate riders and their families should use the issue as a jumping off point to educated themselves about the interworkings of intercollegiate riding as a whole – and it’s all right there, believe me!
Read what Saint Lawrence coach Mary Drueding’s riders have to say about their experiences on the team (hint: it has little to do with blue ribbons and earning points), then flip the page and discover what Francesca Bochner learned during her time as an undergraduate horsewoman. Former NCEA athlete Maggie McAlary is also interviewed about her college riding career and longtime Virginia Intermont coach Eddie Federwisch has a tremendous article that puts intercollegiate riding and “real” horse show riding into perspective.
So if you’re looking to gain a better understanding of the world of intercollegiate riding and want a place to start from, be sure to pick up this latest issue of The Chronicle. But don’t stop your search there as well – be sure to study your college options just as thoroughly as you do your equitation course, your dressage test, or your reining pattern.
And if you want help along the way, please contact me. (I’ll keep my copy of the magazine handy!)