In revising the descriptions of the colleges that make up America’s Best Kept College Secrets 2022, I paused in updating Albion College in Michigan. Albion is among the under-appreciated small liberal arts colleges in the Midwest (Albion, Kalamazoo, College of Wooster, Ripon, Lake Forest, DePauw, Beloit, Lawrence, Earlham and many more!) and is one of the small colleges offering a significant equestrian program and excellent equestrian facilities.
Hmmmm, I thought. What are America’s Best Kept Equestrian College Secrets? Time to do a quick survey before returning to the compiling of the next edition of … well, the name of the next edition is to be determined, as America’s Best Kept College Secrets seems to have confused people who are looking for scandal and outrageous tales of college life.
My wife and daughter, who have more than a passing acquaintance with horses, barns, turn-out facilities, tack, forage, and many, many more horse-related subjects, advise me that “equestrian” is a broad descriptor ranging from international competition in dressage, jumping, and eventing to barrel racing in a rodeo program.
Keeping the barrel racing dive somewhat shallow, allow me to simply identify the top colleges offering intercollegiate rodeo competition. The top six men’s programs are: College of Southern Idaho, Missouri Valley College, Feather River College (CA), University of Tennessee-Martin, Panhandle State University(OK), and McNeese State(LA). The top six programs for women are: College of Southern Idaho, Montana State University, Dickinson State University (ND), McNeese State (LA), Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and Gillette College-Sheridan College (WY).
Now, the exercise gets tricky. The U.S. Equestrian Federation is the national governing body for most of the competitions, keeping track of: dressage, driving endurance riding, hunt seat equitation, hunter-jumper, para-equestrian, reigning, roadster, saddle seat equitation, vaulting, and western riding (which consists of equitation, western pleasure, reigning, trail, western dressage, and other unnamed events).
Before identifying intercollegiate competition, however, it’s prudent to present a brief description of academic courses of study that might intrigue those whose noses twitch when the term “equine” is bandied about. An AA or BA degree in Equine Science unsurprisingly considers the science of all aspects of the horse in a scientific manner, Biology, Anatomy, Reproduction, and other equine issues. There are programs that offer certification in Equine Therapy, Equine Business Management, Equine Production (daily management of an equestrian facility), and Equestrian Science (sports science in equestrian events).
Most of the colleges offering rodeo competition offer a program in equine studies. Similarly, most of the schools competing in the National Equestrian Competition also offer a major or minor in equine studies.
NOT in the NCEA
William Woods University
Hackettstown, New Jersey
Alfred, New York
St. Andrews University
Laurinburg, North Carolina
University of Findlay
Emory & Henry College
Savannah College of Art and Design
Cazenovia, New York
University of Kentucky
Murray State University
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Kentucky
Auburn will be profiled and will include a description of the six time national championship equestrian team and the equine center. Auburn offers up to 15 equestrian scholarships.
Baylor will also be profiled with particular attention directed toward the size of its equestrian team (more than 80 riders) and its hosting of the NCEA’s National Championship. Baylor offers up to 15 Scholarships.
Bridgewater competes in Division III of the NCAA, and so, cannot offer athletic scholarships. The admission office, on the other hand, can offer “Merit” scholarships, some of which may assist in the recruitment of riders.
Providence, Rhode Island
Brown is one of three “Ivy League” colleges competing in the NCEA. None of the colleges in the Ivy League offer athletic scholarships, but do offer need-based scholarships.
College of Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
The College of Charleston is located in Charleston, but it is a university with an undergraduate student population of more than 10,000 students. A state supported university, COC offers equestrian scholarships.
Ithaca, New York
Both public and private, the Cornell Equine Park is the location of Cornell’s outstanding Equine Hospital.
Hanover, New Hampshire
The newest addition to the NCEA, Dartmouth’s equestrian team competes nationally.
Delaware State University
DSU offers majors in Animal Science and Equine Business Management and offers scholarships.
Fresno State University
Fresno State’s Equine Program includes the Horse Unit, raising American Quarter Horses.
University of Georgia
Georgia, established in 1785, is among the oldest universities in the United States and cometes n Division I.
Long Island University
Brookville, New York
The C.W. Post campus of the university is located in Brookville offering a BS in Equine Studies.
University of Lynchburg
University of Lynchburg was formerly Lynchburg College and now enrolls about 3000 students
University of Minnesota Crookston
U Minnesota Crookston is located in Minnesota’s Red River Valley, where the forested area to the east meets the Great Plains of the Dakotas.
Oklahoma State University
OSU (not Ohio State or Oregon State) offers a degree in Animal Science and a certificate in Equine Enterprise Management. The program’s website also offers horses for sale.
Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart is the second largest Catholic university in New England with extension campuses in Dingle, Ireland and Luxembourg. Women’s wrestling became a varsity sport this year.
Seton Hill University
Seton Hill is a private Catholic university enrolling about 3000 students on a campus near Pittsburg.
Southern Methodist University
SMU is a university enrolling almost 7000 undergraduates on a campus in the heart of Dallas.
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
USC (not Southern California) has a campus of almost 400 acres near the state capital of Columbia.
South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits study in Brookings, the fourth largest city in South Dakota (population 23,000),
North Easton, Massachusetts
Stonehill is a private Catholic university located in the greater Boston area. Stonehill has recently moved up to Division I in most sports.
Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar, Virginia
Although Sweet Briar competes in Division III, its program is among the most highly regarded in the nation. The Vixens ride in a newly renovated equestrian facility and on the 2400 acres of Virginia countryside.
Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, Texas
TCU’s Division I program is located about three miles from downtown Fort Worth.
College Station, Texas
Texas A&M has the largest undergraduate student enrollment in the U.S. – almost 60,000 students.
University of California – Davis
UC Davis, located in California’s Sacramento Valley, competes in Division I and is the home of an outstanding program in veterinary medicine.
University of the South
Most frequently known as Sewanee, the University of the South looks and feels like a New England college. The campus is located on 13,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau and is often mentioned as one of the most beautiful colleges in the U.S.
University of Tennessee – Martin
One of the five campuses of the University of Tennessee, Martin’s equestrian program, the Skyhawks, compete in Division I.