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National Collegiate Equestrian Association

  (Redirected from Varsity Equestrian)

The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA), formerly known as Varsity Equestrian, is one of the governing bodies[1] for the various types of American college women's equestrian sports. The NCEA is headquartered in Waco, Texas.

It was organized in 1998, and sponsors an annual national championship event for its member institutions. Currently the NCEA has 23 member colleges and universities that sponsor women's equestrian teams that participate in intercollegiate competition.[2]


Competition formatEdit

Schools are organized throughout the year into season schedules that allow for head-to-head competitions resulting in ranking and seeding for the national title.

Typically, five varsity riders compete against the opposing team. Home team schools can delegate the number of junior varsity riders that may accompany the varsity team to compete as well.

One rider from each school is randomly paired and assigned a horse to then compete in a “head-to-head” match. Competitors are matched to a horse belonging to the home team and are allowed to watch sanctioned warm-ups where horses are schooled over fences as well as warmed up for the flat test to be performed. Riders are then given four minutes for English events as well as horsemanship, and five minutes for reining. Riders competing in Equitation over Fences are allowed to take four practice fences within the four minutes of warm-ups. If the rider jumps more than four fences, she is disqualified from the show.

Whichever rider earns 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.[2]

Equitation on the Flat

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 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 movements and a final judge's test. The highest score a rider can receive is 100, and will receive marks for their overall correctness and position throughout the test.[2]

Equitation over Fences

Riders selected to compete in Equitation over Fences will show over a course of eight to ten fences in which the rider must navigate the correct course as well as maintain proper body positioning throughout the round. The rider should be able to have a consistent pace around the course and be able to safely jump over the fences without stopping or falling from her horse.


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.[2]


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.[2]

Schools participating in varsity competitionEdit

Past membersEdit

Division IEdit

  • Kansas State University | Final season: 2015-16[3]
  • New Mexico State University | Final season: 2016-17[4]

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.[5] The Committee on Women's Athletics (CWA) oversees sports with the designation of being an Emerging Sport.

The NCAA states that "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."[6] 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.[6] Dr. Leah Holland Fiorentino has been integral in the fight for equestrian as a collegiate sport,[7][8][9] as has Tom O'Mara.[10]


In August 2017, it was announced that Sweet Briar would become the first Division III member of the NCEA.[11]

It was announced in April 2018 by UC Davis that women's equestrian would become a varsity sport,[12][13] and that it would be joining the NCEA.[14]

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.[15]

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 [a]
2015 South Carolina
2016 Auburn
2017 Texas A&M
2018 Auburn
  1. ^ After 2013 format changed to award overall title only.


  1. ^ "IHSA, ANRC, IDA and NCAA Representatives to Speak at Seminars during 2012 College Preparatory Invitational". "Coaches representing the four main governing bodies of collegiate riding will host seminars for the young riders at this year’s College Preparatory Invitational (CPI) Horse Show. Representatives from the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), American National Riding Commission (ANRC), Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA), and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), will all be on hand.". Horses in the South. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
  2. ^ a b c d e Varsity Equestrian. 12 Dec. 2008
  3. ^ Heath, Liz (2016-05-04). "The sun sets on K-State equestrian". The Collegian. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  4. ^ "NMSU axes Equestrian program... Again". Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  5. ^ rpowell (2016-03-02). "Emerging Sports for Women". - The Official Site of the NCAA. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  6. ^ a b rpowell (2016-01-16). "Division II vote gives new life to equestrian". - The Official Site of the NCAA. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  7. ^ vcortez (2015-12-01). "Still in the Saddle". - The Official Site of the NCAA. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  8. ^ "Leah Fiorentino, equestrian fans pushing to save sport". 2016-01-17. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  9. ^ Streamline Technologies - Nashville, TN. "THE REAL FACTS ABOUT NCEA PROGRAMS". - The Official Site of the NCEA. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  10. ^ "Tom O'Mara Saddles Up for Equestrian Sports - The Journal Publications". The Journal Publications. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  11. ^ "Sweet Briar becomes first NCAA Division III school to join National Collegiate Equestrian Association". Sweet Briar. 2017-08-29. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  12. ^ "UC Davis adds women's beach volleyball and equestrian". Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  13. ^ "UC Davis Makes Women's Equestrian Team A Varsity Sport - Quarter Horse News". Quarter Horse News. 2018-04-19. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  15. ^ "NCEA Status as an Emerging Sport". Equine Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-06-23.

External linksEdit