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OSU Commit Shares Five Tips for Choosing the Right Collegiate Equestrian Team

Deciding on the right university and equestrian team for you is a big deal. Not only will the school you pick determine where you live for an important portion of your life, but it will also impact connections you make, jobs you’ll have, and people you’ll meet. You must be prepared to make this decision when the time comes because you’re not just deciding on a school, you’re deciding on a team of coaches, academic advisors, and other student-athletes.

1. Have questions prepared for the coaches and team members.

It’s essential to have as much information as possible about each team, coach, and school you visit to make the right decision. Going to collegiate equestrian camps or clinics, watching meets, and asking questions are great ways to learn as much as possible about each school. 

Some questions you should have for the coaches are: What is your plan for me if I come to ride for you? Why do you think I would be a good fit? What do you think I need to improve on? What do your average practices look like?

Some questions you might want to ask existing team members include:  What do you wish you knew before coming on the team? What are your favorite and least favorite things about the team/coaches/college? What is the care of the horses like? What’s the most challenging part of being a student-athlete?

2. Have an intended major in mind.

Not all schools offer the same majors, so it’s vital that you at least have an idea of what you want to study. You may not necessarily know exactly what you want to do for a future career, but you should try to narrow it down enough to pick a major that fits you.

Questions for any professors or department heads that you meet might include: What makes this program/college different from other universities? What qualities do successful students in your program have? How will it be as a student-athlete in this program? Are there any internship opportunities within this program?

3. Pay attention to how the team members interact with each other.

Observing the team atmosphere is an excellent way to know if a team will fit you. It’s essential to see how well the team members get along with each other. Look for a team you feel like you could have a healthy, functioning team relationship with. You will have to live, practice, and work with your teammates, so it’s necessary that you can flourish with your team. Search for a close-knit, supportive, and encouraging team.

4. Make sure the campus feels like home.

Whatever college you chose will likely be your home for at least four years, so it should feel like it. The town, school, and team should feel comfortable and easy for you to live and work in. The most important part of your visit to any university should be the university itself.

After all, it won’t matter how many scholarships you get or how good the team’s winning record is if you don’t love where you are and who your teammates and coaches are. Make sure you’re compatible with every aspect of your new life as a student-athlete.

5. Tour as many universities as possible. 

The more universities you visit, the easier it should be to narrow down which places feel right and which ones don’t. You might have your heart set on one school going into your college visits, but realize that it’s not the one for you after touring other schools.

Be sure to make a pros and cons list for each university you look at and keep notes of your visits. Looking at other schools is also a way to learn the history and traditions about all the different schools you’ll likely compete against once you’re on an equestrian team.

The process of visiting schools, meeting with coaches, and deciding on the school for you is exciting. When it’s time for you to commit to the university and equestrian team you’ll be with for the next chapter of your life, it’s essential to ask questions, be observant, look at all of the pros and cons from each school, and be able to make a confident decision.

About the Author – Oklahoma State Equestrian Commit, Lauren Pursley is a devoted youth equestrian showing in the all-around events with her horse Lovin Some Lazy Lola. Lauren is the current Texas Quarter Horse Youth Association President, AQHYA Region 8 Director, and a Team USA 2020 for the Youth World Cup.