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National Collegiate Equestrian Association

In 1998 the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and Committee on Women's Athletics (CWA) identified Equestrian and an emerging sport for women in all three NCAA divisions. The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA), formerly known as Varsity Equestrian, was created as the governing body for NCAA Equestrian teams. The NCEA is headquartered in Waco, Texas. Currently the NCEA has 24 official member colleges and universities that sponsor women's equestrian teams that participate in intercollegiate competition as a varsity sport. [1]

They began hosting a national championship in 2002. As membership has grown, they have begun to sponsor regional championships as well. They began hosting a Big 12 regional championship in 2009[2], a Southeastern Conference (SEC) regional championship in 2013[3], and a United Equestrian Conference (UEC) regional championship in 2015[4]. In 2012 they began the NCEA Coach of the Year Award and in 2013 they began the team given NCEA Sportsmanship Award.[5] In 2011 they began naming an NCEA All-American First Team for each section of competition, composed of the top four riders as selected by the NCEA selection committee.[5] In that same year they also began to name All-American Honorable Mentions based on a set criteria where there is no limit as to how many can earn the award.[5] In 2013 they began naming an NCEA All-American Second Team composed of the next top four riders as selected by the NCEA selection committee.[5] In the 2013-14 season they began naming an NCEA All-Time Rider of the Month Award to one athlete from each section of competition during the regular season.[6]

Competition FormatEdit

Schools organize season schedules that allow for head-to-head competitions resulting in ranking and seeding for conference and national titles. They compete during the fall semester from September to November and during the Spring semester from January to March. From March on there are post-season competitions. Home team schools can delegate the number of junior varsity riders that may accompany the varsity team to compete.

Home teams provide the horses and appropriate equipment for them and the competition. Five horses are selected for each of the four events and coaches designate five of their riders to compete in each event for the English and Western components of the competition. A rider from each team is randomly paired and assigned to a horse for each event to compete in a "head-to head" match. Competitors are allowed to watch sanctioned warm-ups where horses are schooled for each of the four events. Riders are then given four minutes to practice on their assigned horse for each event. Riders competing in Equitation over Fences are allowed to take four practice fences within the four minutes of warm-ups. [7]

Each rider earns a score and the highest score on that horse wins the head-to-head match and scores a point for that team. Neither team receives the point if the two riders are given a tie score. If there is a tie in the overall competition, raw scores given by the judge are added up and used to determine the winner. In some cases, the lowest score from each team may be dropped.

Equitation on the Flat (English Hunt Seat)

Riders selected to compete in Equitation on the Flat demonstrate a predetermined test that is performed in a dressage arena measuring 20 meters by 40 meters. The riders must demonstrate a precise, well executed and accurate test while staying in correct position and maintaining a harmonious balance with the horse they've drawn to compete upon.

Testing is judged on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 meaning "not performed" and 10 marking "excellent". Riders will perform nine required movement, all scored using the defined scale based on accuracy and smoothness. The tenth score is judged using the same scale but is regarded to the riders overall position and correctness. The highest score a rider can receive is 100.[7]

Equitation over Fences (English Hunt Seat)

Riders selected to compete in Equitation over Fences will show over a course of eight to ten fences set around 3' to 3'6" in which the rider must successfully navigate the correct course while maintaining proper position. The rider should also be able to make the course look smooth by having consistent pace, consistent and correct distances to the jumps, and consistent striding between fences. The round is scored using a defined scale out of 100.[7]

Horsemanship (Western)

In horsemanship, the horse and rider perform a pattern in which different maneuvers and the horse's different gaits are exhibited. The base score for a pattern is 70, and the judge will score each of the 7–9 maneuvers anywhere from −1.5 to +1.5. The positive score indicates that a movement is above average in execution and the negative score deducts points for poor execution. Penalties are given if a horse kicks out, lopes on the wrong lead, or otherwise detracts from the uniformity of the performance. It is possible for a rider to receive a score of zero if mistakes such as going off-pattern (adding or subtracting elements from the original pattern) are made.[7]

Reining (Western)

Unlike horsemanship patterns, reining patterns include spins and sliding stops performed by the horse and rider. In reining, a score starts 70 and can be higher or lower depending on the quality of the ride. Riders perform movements that include: fast circles, slow circles, spins and sliding stops. Going off-pattern results in a score of zero. Over- or under-spinning by more than a quarter of a turn is also given a score of zero.[7]


Past membersEdit

Division IEdit

  • Kansas State University | Final season: 2015–16[8]
  • New Mexico State University | Final season: 2016–17[9]

Division IIEdit

  • Dartmouth College
  • Pace University

Equestrian as an NCAA Emerging SportEdit

Logo of ESW Equestrian

Equestrian has been on the list of Emerging Sports for Women by the NCAA since 2002.[10] The Committee on Women's Athletics (CWA) oversees sports with the designation of being an Emerging Sport.

The NCAA states, "Sports in the emerging sports program are expected to grow to 40 varsity teams within 10 years – the minimum level of sponsorship needed to be considered for the ultimate goal of becoming a full-fledged NCAA championship sport."[11] Although the 10-year mark has been passed for equestrian, the sport remained on the list because of continued growth and support. However, it has faced several threats of removal from the list. In January 2016, some 200 college administrators voted for equestrian to continue in Division II at the NCAA Convention.[11] Dr. Leah Holland Fiorentino has been integral in the fight for equestrian as a collegiate sport,[12][13][14] as has Tom O'Mara.[15]


In August 2017, it was announced that Sweet Briar would become the first Division III member of the NCEA.[16]

It was announced in April 2018 by UC Davis that women's equestrian would become a varsity sport,[17][18] and that it would be joining the NCEA.[19]

At the 2018 NCEA Championships, the NCAA's Director of Inclusion, Amy Wilson, was in attendance. This was the first time an NCAA official attended the championships since the sport was added to the Emerging Sports list. The U.S. Equestrian Federation's CEO, Bill Moroney, was also on-hand.[20]

In August of 2019 it was announced that the University of Lynchburg and the State University of New York at New Paltz would be joining as Division III members in the 2019-2020 season.[21]

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules and eligibilityEdit

As a prospective athlete, students wishing to attend a Division I or II institution must be eligible before competing within collegiate athletics. One form in specific that should be downloaded by the prospective athlete is called the "Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete". There students will be able to look over the requirements more in depth. Most importantly, the student must still be an amateur to compete.

Coaches may send out written contacts as of September 1 of the athlete's junior year but may not return phone calls prior to July 1 of the athlete's senior year. If an athlete is on an official visit they must be seniors, however, trips made at the athlete's personal expense may take place before their senior years. Each type of visit may not be during a dead period in schooling at the university.

NCEA National Championship resultsEdit

List of NCEA National Championship results
Year Overall Hunter seat Western
2002 Texas A&M Georgia West Texas A&M
2003 Georgia Georgia Oklahoma State
2004 Georgia Georgia Oklahoma State
2005 South Carolina South Carolina Texas A&M
2006 Auburn South Carolina Oklahoma State
2007 South Carolina South Carolina Texas A&M
2008 Georgia Auburn TCU
2009 Georgia Georgia Texas A&M
2010 Georgia Georgia Texas A&M
2011 Auburn Auburn Texas A&M
2012 Texas A&M Baylor Texas A&M
2013 Auburn Auburn Oklahoma State
2014* Georgia
2015* South Carolina
2016* Auburn
2017* Texas A&M
2018 Auburn Auburn Auburn
2019 Auburn Auburn Georgia

*From 2014-17 only one overall national champion was crowned[22]


  1. ^ "Schools". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  2. ^ "Big 12". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  3. ^ "SEC". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  4. ^ "United Equestrian Conference". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "NCEA Award Winners". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  6. ^ "NCEA All-Time Riders of the Month". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Competition Format". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  8. ^ Heath, Liz (May 4, 2016). "The sun sets on K-State equestrian". The Collegian. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  9. ^ "NMSU axes Equestrian program... Again". Las Cruces Sun-News. January 20, 2017. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  10. ^ "Emerging Sports for Women". National Collegiate Equestrian Association. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Rachel Stark-Mason (January 16, 2016). "Division II vote gives new life to equestrian". National Collegiate Equestrian Association. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  12. ^ Rachel Stark-Mason (December 1, 2015). "Still in the Saddle". National Collegiate Equestrian Association. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  13. ^ "Leah Fiorentino, equestrian fans pushing to save sport". National Collegiate Equestrian Association. January 17, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  14. ^ Dr. Leah Holland Fiorentino (February 5, 2015). "The Real Facts about NCEA Programs". National Collegiate Equestrian Association. Archived from the original on June 24, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  15. ^ Felecia Stratton (April 5, 2018). "Tom O'Mara Saddles Up for Equestrian Sports". The Journal Publications. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "Sweet Briar becomes first NCAA Division III school to join National Collegiate Equestrian Association". Sweet Briar. August 29, 2017. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  17. ^ "UC Davis adds women's beach volleyball and equestrian". April 13, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  18. ^ "UC Davis Makes Women's Equestrian Team A Varsity Sport". Quarter Horse News. April 19, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  19. ^ "National Collegiate Equestrian Association Welcomes the University of California, Davis as the next NCAA Equestrian Team". National Collegiate Equestrian Association. April 14, 2018. Archived from the original on June 23, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  20. ^ Alex Riley (June 23, 2018). "NCEA Status as an Emerging Sport". The Equine Chronicle. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  21. ^ "NCEA to welcome Lynchburg and SUNY New Paltz for 2019-20". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  22. ^ "History". Retrieved August 22, 2019.

External linksEdit