Is your child a horseback rider? Horses and kids are an amazing match, with studies showing that children learn to take responsibility and initiative through horse-care and riding. Equestrian kids tend to have better grades and higher graduation rates than other students. And there are great organizations to support children who ride horseback throughout their school-age and college years, making the journey easier for parents and even providing valuable educational assistance and scholarships.
The Interscholastic Equestrian Federation is one such organization. The Interscholastic Equestrian Federation allows students in grades 6-12 the opportunity to field teams in either Hunt Seat or Western, compete in regional and national shows, gain points, and win scholarship money. They award a total of $15,000 in scholarships to the top placers their annual Finals. The federation also offers other financial awards, such as $1,000 scholarships to students based upon not just equestrian skills, but academic merit, personal achievements, and an essay. Find out more at www.rideiea.org.
The United States Pony Club is perhaps best known for turning out traditionally trained equestrians who can do everything in and out of the saddle “by the book,” but they also help their equestrians get into college. The Pony Club offers several scholarships through sponsors such as Triple Crown Nutrition, awarded to students meeting criteria including academic achievement, volunteering and leadership, and equestrian knowledge. They also offer counseling on how to find equestrian-based scholarships, and how to incorporate Pony Club experience into college applications. Visit them at www.ponyclub.org.
Spanning all the school-age years from five to nineteen, 4-H supports equestrian programs, offers equine education, and includes scholarships at the regional level. 4-H organizations vary by state and county, but many offer members-only show classes at state fairs, and include everything from hunt seat riding to horse trivia in their curriculums. Find your local 4-H equestrian chapter at www.4-h.org.
With the support of these national organizations, your child’s riding career can be more than a pretty pastime. It can become a serious pursuit that encourages responsibility, academic achievement, and winning valuable scholarships to help with college tuition. All the more reason to give in when they ask for riding lessons — each ride is an investment in the future!