Collegiate Competition in Virginia -- Caliber, feel, etc.

I am currently a high school senior and I am looking into the riding programs at colleges I have applied to. I would love to know what the programs at the following schools are like, and how competitive they are. Also, any barns/trainers near these schools would be much appreciated. I currently show about 14 times per year in the Children’s Hunters at local shows, A’s, and AA’s, and train with JT Tallon. I would like something comparable to what I have now!

The schools I am considering attending are:
William & Mary
University of Virginia
Virginia Tech
Duke University

Thanks so much!

The team coach also supports members who compete at USEF competitions’

His personal credentials are exceptional.

And No! I’m not on the payroll or related. :lol:

You could look up the team rosters at the schools you are considering and contact current riders to ask them about their thoughts… That will give you the most current information

On your list, the school most associated with a successful riding program would be UVA.

Hollins, Sweet Briar and Bridgewater would be first, IMO.

(Duke isn’t in Virginia…)

And not to be a boring grownup, but these schools are VERY different in size, feel, strengths and weaknesses…if you really feel all of them would be an equally good match for you (leaving you to decide based on riding alone), I suspect you probably haven’t spent enough time visitng the campuses during classes. An overnight stay, if you can swing it, will really help you get a feel for life.
Good fit can make the difference between four years you love and appreciate and dropping out or gritting your teeth to get through.

Are these NCAA teams? I’m not American so I wouldn’t know but don’t people on this board say that most NCAA riders are at least 3’6 or BigEq people?

I would pick any of the OP’s choices over Hollins, Bridgewater or Sweetwater from an academic perspective though.

I was in college longer ago then you’ve been alive. But, doubt time will change my boring advice. Pick a school for the academics and feel and then find a barn, not necessarily school related IHSA or NCAA team. Given those choices you are strong academically and your college career will set the tone for the rest of your professional life.
There are TONS of nice barns near UVa and Virginia Tech. There are also an increasingly number of nice barns in the Duke area. William and Mary will be tougher. JT has been around forever and knows everyone.
Most importantly, you should apply to UNC. Good luck and go heels!

I graduated in 2012 from Bridgewater. The program has changed a bit, because they have a new head coach, but I can answer questions about it. Yes, there are schools with better academics, but they are not a low level academic school.

Of those, UVA is in the strongest region, in my opinion. UVA, Bridgewater, Hollins, Sweet Briar, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Randolph, Washington and Lee… I feel like I’m forgetting someone.

I work at the barn where the VCU and Randolph Macon College teams ride, and we just hosted the RMC show yesterday. William and Mary is in this region. It’s not a terrible team, but it’s not as competitive of a region as where UVA is.

VT has a whole equine studies program, and their vet school. They also offer more than just IHSA. I know they have a dressage team and I’m pretty sure a western team as well.

Do you have a specific major that you’re interested in that is drawing you to these schools? Also, JT used to coach the Randolph team, for a very long time, and he’ll have some good input as well.

I would pick any of the OP’s choices over Hollins, Bridgewater or Sweetwater from an academic perspective though.[/QUOTE]

Sweet Briar has an outstanding academic reputation. For example, at least when I was there, 100% of its pre-med students who had applied to medical school had been accepted.

OP, I would think that your best resource would actually be your trainer, who as a former coach in this region would be able to give you excellent information.

The format of IHSA and NCAA are very different. IHSA includes riders of every level and has a few classes for those who jump 3 foot or higher. As I understand it, those who have A circuit ribbons are not able to do the lower stuff in IHSA. Some schools require that you enroll in the school before you can try out for the IHSA team.

NCAA usually only recruits people who jump 3’6" or higher. Most of those riders have a lot of experience in the Maclays and Big Eq. A lot of people attend camps held by NCAA programs if that is something you are able to do.

You should choose a school that works for you and then investigate the riding. If you want something comparable to what you are doing now you can always continue to ride and show while you are in college budget permitting.

When you ask how competitive these schools are do you mean in team competition or how competitive it will be to MAKE the team and then ride IHSA? If you want to show every IHSA show the only way you’ll know if you’ll make it is to ride for those coaches. Not trying to be a downer, but remember with the format of IHSA a school only needs 1, 2 at most riders for the competition in each division. From your show experience you would likely be an Open rider and for the teams you mentioned it is very possible that you won’t compete for your team. There’s always the chance you could compete as an individual, but that varies from team to team as well. Be direct, ask the coaches of these schools, ride for them or send them video and they will give you an honest assessment as to if your skills will make the team. Good luck!

For schools like Sweet Briar, Randolph, Bridgewater, Hollins, and I believe UVA, there are teams besides IHSA, such as ANRC and a show team that goes to the A shows on independently owned or a few high level school horses. That could be an option to look into as well.

I would pick any of the OP’s choices over Hollins, Bridgewater or Sweetwater from an academic perspective though.[/QUOTE]

I wouldn’t. I got an exceptional education at Hollins, was well-prepared for professional school, and was taught by actual PhDs, not teaching assistants. There were 4 people in my microbiology class and I started doing independent research in the first semester of my second year. You simply can’t compare a small liberal arts college to a much larger institution.

The riding program at Hollins was just the buttercream icing on a particularly fine cake. :slight_smile:

Are these NCAA teams? I’m not American so I wouldn’t know but don’t people on this board say that most NCAA riders are at least 3’6 or BigEq people?[/QUOTE]

None are NCAA teams :slight_smile:

Unless things have changed dramatically in recent years, Duke does not offer much support for its IHSA team (I was the team’s treasurer for a couple years but rarely showed with the team).

Based on what you’re looking at academics-wise (as well as coed education-wise), I would also add W&L to your list. JT and Gordon (the coach at W&L) are good friends and I’m sure you could spend a day with the team if you wanted.

However, I realize that you’ve probably already submitted applications and it’s probably too late to add another school if you’re a senior. The UVA program is the only one with which I’m familiar – they have lovely school horses!