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The Ultimate Guide to Equestrian High School

Updated: 20 hours ago

equestrian school

If you are looking for a sport fit for highly skilled individuals, look no further than equestrianism—the subtle art of riding and vaulting with horses. Not only is it good for you physically, but it will also teach you the value of coordination and self-control.

So, let's learn more about this fantastic discipline. In this article, we'll answer some common questions about equestrianism and help you find the best equestrian high school in the US.

What's the definition of equestrianism?

In simple words, equestrianism is a sport featuring horseback riding. After all, the Latin word for horse is Equus, so the definition of equestrian is self-explanatory. But don't think for a second that you can go on a joyride on a horse for an hour and start calling yourself an equestrian.

This adventurous discipline goes beyond traditional horsemanship and requires intense training.

Some pretty everyday equestrian activities include these examples:

·   Police work (like Canada's mounted cops)

·   Dressage (horse training in its finest form)

·   Ranches (using horses to control cattle)

·   Polo, rodeo, and horse racing

·   Vaulting, pegging, eventing, and reining

·   Show horses and fox-hunting horses

·   Search and rescue

Also, "equestrian" often refers to male horseback riders, and women riding a horse are usually known as "equestrienne." But we're not concerned with gender here, so the word "equestrian" will be used for both male and female riders.

What is the difference between horse riding and equestrian?

Do you think equestrianism is the same as simple horse riding? Think again. An equestrian learns to do various exciting activities while riding a horse. In an equestrian high school, you'll learn to train, ride a horse, and participate in show jumping and eventing.

After years of training, you'll become a first-class horse rider capable of competing in different sporting events.

Also, different equestrian sports require you to ride specific breeds of horses:

·   For dressage and jumping, Anglo-Arabs and Westphalians are the best

·   When it comes to endurance races, you'll go with Arabian thoroughbreds

·   Vaulting and galloping will require cold-blooded horses at least 1.8 meters tall

·   Horse balls don't necessarily require horses, and you can also make do with ponies

You can see that different equestrian sub-disciplines have their own requirements. The horses they give you are trained differently from normal horse riding and follow very different codes.

What are the top equestrian high schools?

The equestrian industry is very famous and part of a well-developed niche within the broader horseback riding community. After all, they included equestrianism in the 1900s Olympics. Today, more than 4.6 million people work in the US equestrian industry—both as full-time employees and volunteers.

You can guess just how many equestrian schools operate in America in the 2020s. Let's give you a brief overview of some top-notch horse riding academics.

But what do you even learn in an equestrian high school? You'll be surprised to know that it takes students an extensive study routine to become expert horsemen. Here's what they learn at school:

·   Horse anatomy

·   What do horses eat?

·    Horse training fundamentals

·   How do you manage horses properly?

·   Horse health, medicine, and upkeep

·   Common ailments horses are vulnerable to

·   Horse behavior, psychology, and body language

Hopefully, now you know why attending an equestrian school is so important. So, here's a breakdown of some of the best private boarding equestrian high schools in the United States:







Culver Academies


1894 (it's co-ed now)

9 to 12

Good teachers, fantastic food, and multiple activities available for students

A strict military environment, way too many rules, and they don't let you go home 75% of the weekends

Foxcroft School


1914 (only for girls)

9 to 12

Scholarships available, birthed many famous equestrians, and a flexible study routine

Reputation for hiring unskilled teachers, and a lack of diversity

Garrison Forest School


1910 (only pre-K is co-ed, and the rest is female-only)

Pre-K to 12

A well-developed equestrian center and teachers are very amazing

Reputation for a "mean girls" climate and discriminates against those who aren't "lifers" (i.e., attended pre-K)

Table 1: Popular equestrian high schools in the US

If your child is interested in equestrianism but doesn't want to leave home to attend these private boarding schools, guess what? She can simply join an online school such as ICL Academy to provide a flexible academic schedule enabling her to devote maximum time to equestrian training and skill development.

What are the differences between an equestrian boarding school, an in-person school, and an online school?

Here are the differences between these equestrian high schools:

·   Boarding equestrian high schools: You will live on campus and get hands-on experiences with horses. But it lacks flexibility and costs a pretty penny.

·   In-person equestrian high schools: They don't have boarding facilities and limited interactions with fellow equestrians. It's just like a day school for horse lovers.

·   Online equestrian high schools: Classes are conducted virtually, but you need a lot of self-motivation to keep up the pace. It's also a more affordable option.

Hopefully, now you can choose the right equestrian school for your child.

Is equestrian an expensive sport?

Is equestrian an expensive sport? You bet it is, especially if you plan to buy your child a horse! You should expect to spend anywhere from $5,000 - $100,000 per year on it, making equestrianism one of the least cost-effective athletic pursuits in the world. If you add the costs of private equestrian high schools, it's even costlier. For a detailed breakdown of all of the costs associated with equestrianism, check out this article.

Here are the major reasons for for making equestrian an expensive sport:

·   Horse ownership and maintenance

·   Horse training and riding lessons

·   Competition fees (if that's what your goal is)

·   Costs of attending boarding equestrian high schools

How hard is it to learn equestrian?

To be honest, it's pretty hard to gain equestrian excellence. People often assume it's just sitting in a saddle and looking pretty. You must learn to balance yourself on the horse's bare back. The art of communicating with a horse isn't easy either. That's why it takes years of practice and hard work.

It may take six months to a full year for amateurs to master the basics of horseback riding.

Then, you can join an equestrian school to take your skills to new heights. In the end, it depends on:

·   Your natural aptitude for equestrian

·   Your experience with horses

·   Which equestrian discipline are you joining

·   Are you willing to learn from your mistakes

Well-established equestrian high schools make horsemanship far easier.

What does it take to be a good equestrian?

Someone said, "In training horses, one trains himself." This beautiful quote explains what it means to be an excellent equestrian. It's not just about coaching the animal to do a few tricks like a show pony. If you want to be good at horseback riding, learn the way of the horse and understand your animal friend. Your goal should be creating a bond with your horse.

There are also many technical things to bear in mind as an equestrian. For instance, a rider weighing just 210 pounds should choose a horse at least 1,050 pounds. But you'll learn tips like this one in equestrian high school. For now, you should focus on horsemanship best practices:

·   See things from your horse's perspective

·   Don't let your ego get in the way of equestrian excellence

·   Soak up the equine knowledge and memorize it all

·   Learn from other riders, even if they're your juniors

·   Put in your time and always learn to be the best equestrian

·   Always be patient; never take out your frustrations on the poor animal

·   Be sensitive to what your horse is feeling or thinking (like they do with mountain banshees in the movie Avatar)

·   Joining an excellent equestrian school to hone your horsemanship skills

Is it too late to get into equestrianism?

Are you interested in equestrianism? Do you want to master this discipline and join competitive riding? If you have the desire and the physical stamina, it's never too late to get into this exciting field. You may start riding and learning about horses even in your 50s and 60s. Even a novice may become an excellent equestrian with enough practice and hard work. Just try to ignore all those young riders who will be much better than you since they've been riding on a horse's bare back since early childhood.

And that's the most essential point about horseback riding. It is always better to get into it as early as possible. Starting at a younger age opens many doors of skill development for your child, and she can even advance in the sport at an Olympic level like Nina Fout and Elizabeth Meyer.

In short, you need these three things to begin horseback riding at an older age:

·   Physical fitness

·   Spare time to ride regularly

·   Enough money to cover the expenses

Is equestrian a college sport?

Are you interested in college athletics for your daughter? Do you want her to take your athletic prowess to new heights in college? Good news—equestrianism is a recognized college sports sport. Let us give you more details about it.

It doesn't take much for your favorite sport to become a certified college sport in America. It just needs the NCAA's approval. In other words, once the National Collegiate Athletic Association gives the green light, that sport becomes legit in the US. Equestrianism got the NCAA's approval in 1998. It got on the Emerging Sports for Women list in 2002.

Currently, equestrianism has nineteen Division I, three Division II, and six Division III programs. All these programs are governed by the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA).

In other words, you may expect scholarships coming your child's way once she joins a well-established equestrian high school. However, equestrian isn't as widely recognized as football or basketball.

equestrian school student

Learn about ICL Academy

ICL Academy is one of the top virtual equestrian schools in America. This accredited online school caters to grades 5 to 12 and harnesses their horseback riding skills with innovative teaching strategies. It's changed the lives of 5,000+ young people since 2001. It's accredited by WASC, approved by the NCAA, and offers childs dual enrollment credits.

If you're looking for an online school that combines regular academics with a child's zeal for equestrian, consider the Institute for Champions and Leader’s equestrian program.

Learn more about the ICL Academy’s equestrian school today! 

Conclusion – Joining an Equestrian School

Here you go, folks—all your questions about equestrianism and equestrian high schools have been answered. You can now decide if this discipline is for your children or not. Do you want your child to excel at professional horseback riding? Is your daughter interested in bonding with horses/mares and training with them for competitive sports? If the answer is "yes," then come down to the best virtual equestrian school in the world.

Remember, the champion-level pursuit of equestrian excellence requires flexibility. That's why you must choose an equestrian school that aligns with your child's passion for equestrianism with rigorous testing and flexible coursework.

We bid you happy riding!


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