The 4 Essential Parts of a Great Equestrian Recruitment Video

We interrupt our campus tour blog entries this week to bring you this important and timely piece:

With the coming (and going) of the Fourth of July, the release of final grades for the school year, and with horse show season hitting its peak in many parts of the country, students are both free from the majority of their academic obligations (ahem – except for those summer reading lists!) and gearing up for the coming college recruitment and application season. For college-bound equestrians in particular, it’s this time of year that provides the best opportunity to gather their most recent (and hopefully most impressive!) competition footage to send to their prospective coaches.

But what does a great equestrian recruitment video look like?

Fundamentals like clear, well-lit, non-shaky footage aside – and eschewing other basics like keeping background noise and significant rider errors (including, but not limited to falls!) to a minimum, there are four essential parts of any great equestrian recruiting video. Make sure your video has them and you’ll have a great tool to support your search for the right college and equestrian team.

The four parts are:

  1. Diversity. Demonstrate your ability to ride different types of horses in different situations – and maybe even across disciplines! If you’re a hunter specialist but sometimes dabble in jumpers or equitation, make sure you document it on video – or show footage of both a derby course and a more traditional hunter course on two different horses. If you’re hoping to ride both hunt seat and western in college, show potential coaches your ability to do both on video. At the very least and no matter your specialty, make sure you show coaches what you look like on horses with different body types and of different sizes – a Thoroughbred and a warmblood or a Quarter Horse and an Arabian. If you regularly catch ride ponies, include that too!
  2. Adaptability. Can you ride as well without stirrups as you can with them? Can you add strides to a line on one horse and leave out strides on another? Nearly everyone rides well in perfect weather – how well do you ride in the pouring rain? Include video footage of challenging or difficult situations you faced – but also make sure that the situation doesn’t require a lot of explanation to make coaches understand what was happening. A complicated equitation course with a trot fence or halt going away from the in-gate is self-explanatory – as is no stirrups/bareback work and inclement weather. But if you catch rode a horse that was standing in a field only the week before, is a former broodmare and blind in one eye (!), that’s an awful lot of backstory, so challenge yourself in straightforward ways.
  3. Brevity. Don’t just keep the video simple – keep it short too. In particular, when reaching out to coaches for the first time, it’s better to pique a coach’s interest and leave him or her wanting more than to submit a video that goes on and on and on. Coaches are busy and typically have many videos to go through at once – make sure yours makes a great first impression, demonstrates your abilities, and wraps up in no more than seven minutes. (Five to seven minutes maximumif you’re still adding horses or no stirrups footage or one more reining pattern after that, you’re padding. Don’t pad.) Remember – if coaches are really interested, they’ll ask for updated footage over the course of the year, so don’t show everything up front. You’re starting a conversation, not completing one!
  4. Contact information. The greatest equestrian recruitment video in the world is of zero use if coaches don’t know how to get in touch with you after they view it. Make sure you include opening “credits” that include your name, graduation year, high school, height (and weight if you choose), and then your phone number and email address so coaches can reach out. (Related: Remember to check your email regularly!) Repeat your contact information at the end of the video. Depending on your level of video editing expertise, you might also choose to include a still head shot photo of yourself in non-riding attire (a school photo will suffice but try to avoid selfies) so coaches can recognize you on campus visits or without a horse at any shows they might attend to scout prospects. Captions at the bottom of clips can also provide necessary detail by labeling horses (breed and age), shows, and divisions.

Thanks to cell phones, iPads, and other easy-to-use devices that allow video to be captured at the drop of a hat, you have all the tools at your disposal to capture plenty of riding footage to send to prospective college coaches. How you put it together, however, is of vital importance. Take as much pride in preparing your finished video as you do in preparing your horse for show day and you’ll be well on your way to a college riding career.

(Interested in procuring professional video editing services? Contact me or pick up a copy of my book for more video editing tips for students and parents.)


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