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Advice for High School Freshmen and Sophomores

Q) What can I do to start preparing for your NCAA Equestrian Team?
A) If possible, attend an NCAA Equestrian competition so that you can get a better idea of our different format and the level of riders that we are looking for.  Organize your horse-show records.  Start making a list of year-end awards and/or seasonal show highlights and update it regularly.  Also, from the 9th grade forward, start keeping a detailed accounting of all prize money won and expenses incurred at horse show, which includes saving and organizing all receipts. You may fill out a questionnaire and send in a DVD at any time. (Plan on sending updated information and video during the summer before your senior year).

Q) Can I contact the coaches at Texas A&M?
A) At any time, you may send an email or make a phone call to the Coaches.  However, we are not permitted (per NCAA rules) to initiate a contact (which includes replying to an email or returning a phone call) to you during your freshman and sophomore years. 

Q) Can I visit Texas A&M and its coaches?
A) Yes you can call and set up an "unofficial visit" at any time.

Advice for High School Juniors and Seniors

Q) What do I need to do to be considered for your Equestrian Team?
A) Start putting together a DVD of your riding and showing abilities.  Create a one page riding resume that includes highlights from your horse show experience.  Please list the names and contact information for the trainers with whom you have ridden during the past five years; the names of any outside clinicians you have ridden with and your membership ID numbers for the equestrian organizations you belong to (i.e. USEF, AQHA, NRHA etc).  Create a one page non-riding resume that includes any academic achievements, honors or awards.  Also list your participation in volunteerism, extracurricular activities, leadership, and community involvements.

Q) When should I send my DVD, cover letter and resumes?
A) Preferably by the time you begin your senior year in High School.

Q) What are my options for visiting Texas A&M and the coaches?
A)  You have the option of setting up an "unofficial visit" (i.e. the prospective athlete covers all of her own travel expenses) at any time.  This would be a great option for your junior year.  It is recommended that you make an appointment with the coaches several weeks in advance of your planned visit to ensure that you will be able to meet with them.  In addition, it would be wise to call the visitor center and set up a campus tour as well contacting an academic advisor in the area of study that you are interested in.
During your senior year, you also have the possibility of receiving an invitation for an "official visit" (i.e. Texas A&M will cover some or all of your travel expenses, hotel and meals).  During this visit, we will set up campus and facility tours, as well as meetings with coaches and advisors.

If you are a Hunter Seat rider, you should set up a meeting with Coach Linzy Woolf.  If you are a Horsemanship rider, you should set up a meeting with Coach Beth Bass.  If you are a reining rider, you should set up a meeting with Coach Tana McKay.

Q) What should I include in a DVD for Hunter Seat?
A)  DO show examples of flat work – including basic dressage-type maneuvers such as circles, sitting trot, lengthened trot, halt transitions, lateral movements and no-stirrup work – keeping in mind that our flat format is different from equitation and hunter seat industry standards.  Please refer to the examples of flat tests.

DO show examples of jumping – including footage of a few horse show rounds, as well as clips from practice at your home barn, incorporating elements such as bending lines and equitation turns. 

DO wear breeches, tall boots and a form-fitting, tucked-in shirt so that the coaches may be able to fairly evaluate your form and equitation.

DO show examples of riding at least three different horses – and indicate (with video captions) each horse's age and the current level of its showing or training.  Riding a variety of horse types is highly recommended – for example; do not be afraid to show how you handle a very green horse.

DO use a DVD format, if possible.

DO remember to attach your name and all of your contact information to your video case, as well as in an open video caption.

Try not to make your video more than 10-15 minutes.

Please plan on leaving the DVD with the coaches for them to put in your file.

Q) What should I include in a DVD for Horsemanship?
A) DO show examples of showing and schooling; specifically horsemanship. If you would like you can include some trail/western riding but other show events are not very beneficial to include in the video.

DO try to include video of you riding at least 3 different horses if possible.

DO make sure that the video is zoomed in on you as the rider and try to shoot in well lit covered arena or outside. Small indoor arenas during the winter time can be challenging videos to analyze. 

DO wear boots and jeans and a form fitting shirt.  No oversized clothing please.

DO remember to attach your name and all contact information to your DVD and its case

Try not to make your video more than 15-20 min.

Please plan on leaving the DVD with the coaches for them to put in your file.

Q) What should I include in a DVD for Reining?
A) DO show examples of showing and schooling.  Please include exercises that you use to school all of the different maneuvers.

DO include video of you riding one and two handed.

DO try to include video of you riding at least 3 different horses if possible.

DO make sure that the video is zoomed in on you as the rider and try not to have any backlight if possible. 

DO wear boots and jeans and a form fitting shirt.  No oversized clothing please.

DO remember to attach your name and all contact information to your DVD and it's case

Try not to make your video more than 15-20 min.

Please plan on leaving the DVD with the coaches for them to put in your file.

Facilities and Horses:

We just completed construction and moved into our brand new 25 stall barn this past season.  The new barn has been a great addition to our program and team, and has helped us to provide a wonderful home for our hard-working horses.  We have a herd of about 25 hunter seat horses and 25 western horses.  Many of our western horses have had very successful show careers and consist mainly of Quarter Horses and Paints.  Our hunter seat horses consist of "A" show quality Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods.  We have recently added daily turnouts for those horses that are happier living in a stall.  We do have quite a few horses that are happier if they are allowed to live out in a pasture all of the time.  You can see our practice and show facility at the following web page: http://www.brazoscountyexpo.com/facility/arena

Scholarships

Q) Are scholarships available for Equestrian Athletes and what expenses would I have?
A) We currently have a budget to cover all expenses necessary for competition, as well as access to 15 scholarships (as limited by the NCAA for the sport of equestrian).  Scholarships are divided among our 60 team members and are awarded by the coaches. 

Q) Am I allowed to accept a collegiate scholarship that is awarded to me at a Horse Show?
A) Unfortunately, the receipt of a scholarship based on an individual's (or horse's) place, finish or performance in a single event is not a permissible form of financial assistance. For example, a scholarship provided to the winner of a class or high point performer of a show that is held in escrow or trust for the recipient until she enrolls in college is not permissible per NCAA rules and could result in an NCAA violation.  If you have any questions about a scholarship that has been awarded to you – it is always a good idea to check with our NCAA Compliance staff here at Texas A&M.

Competition

Q) What events do you compete in and what are you looking for in an equestrian athlete?
A)  There are four collegiate equestrian disciplines at the varsity level:  equitation on the flat, equitation over fences (based on USEF standards), western horsemanship and reining.  We are looking for riders who not only have proper equitation and horsemanship, but for those who are also functional on any type of horse.  We are very excited about the opportunity our team gives to equestrian athletes entering college.  This sport gives women the opportunity to be a college athlete while continuing their passion for showing horses.  It also puts all riders on a level playing field, as riders do not know until immediately prior to the show who they will be riding and who they will be showing against.  The emphasis is definitely put on the rider's true riding talent, including their ability to feel and adjust to different types of horses. 

Q) What is a typical competition like?
A) The basis of collegiate riding is to award the rider based on their ability to successfully ride unfamiliar horses.  Colleges hosting team competitions provide all of the horses and tack that will be used at the show.  Riders learn what horse they will be showing using a lottery system.  The unique aspect of Varsity Equestrian competitions is that each team will compete with other teams in a head-to-head format.  Each rider that has been chosen by their coach to ride for their team will compete on the horse they have drawn, while one rider from the opposing team will also have an opportunity to ride and be scored on that horse.  Whoever of the two riders on that particular horse gets the highest score gets a point for their team, much like the scoring system in tennis.  This system helps to level the playing field and gives both teams the same opportunity on the same horses. 

Q) What is the typical show season?
A) Our show season usually begins in September and ends in April.  December and January are usually slower months for competing.

Q) How competitive is Texas A&M?
A) The last 10 years, our team has been very blessed to have some great athletes that have lead to our extensive success! Our western team just won its 7th National Championship!  Our Hunter Seat Team fought for the National Championship last year as we ended up 2nd.  Overall (both hunter seat and western) our team has consistently been the reserve National Champion for the last 3 years!!

The Following are examples of a of an Equitation on the Flat test as well as a typical horsemanship pattern:




Practice


Q) What is a typical practice like?
A) Practice is conducted daily by the coaches using horses owned by the TAMU Team.  Student athletes are assigned different horses at each practice to get them more comfortable on unfamiliar horses.  Student athletes usually practice 3-5 times per week depending on their schedule.  Most practices (actual time spent in the saddle) last for about an hour.

Q) What type of horses do you practice on?
A) For hunter seat practice, the athletes usually ride Thoroughbreds or Warmbloods.  For western practice, the majority of the horses are Quarter Horses.

Q) What is a typical day in the life of a student athlete?
A) Depending on their class schedule, an equestrian athlete will have practice, class, workouts, and study hall in one day.  It is definitely a full day!

NCAA Questions

This is a helpful link for the College Bound Student athlete:
http://www.ncaa.org/wps/ncaa?ContentID=263

Q) When can a prospective student athlete contact the Equestrian Team?
A) A prospective student athlete can contact us at any time.  If a message is left, the coaches can only respond to the message if it is July or later after the student has completed her junior year in high school.  If a prospective student athlete calls a coach and she is a junior or younger, the coach will only be able to explain the NCAA rules that must be followed.

Q) If a prospective student athlete (PSA) is thinking of joining the Texas A&M Equestrian Team, when should she register with the NCAA Eligibility Center?
A) Once the ACT/SAT tests are taken.  Even if the PSA has not contacted any colleges about their Equestrian program, they still need to register.  You can register online at the following link: https://web1.ncaa.org/eligibilitycenter/common/
This will speed up the process of any ‘official visits' that A&M may provide.

Q) Am I allowed to win prize money at horse shows?
A) Under NCAA rules, athletes must be certified as an NCAA Amateur athlete.  Varsity Equestrian recruits will be classified as amateurs only if the prize money won at any given competition prior to college does not exceed the amount of expenses incurred at that competition – examples of those expenses are: entry fees, gasoline, meals, lodging, stall, feed, trainer expenses and hauling. Candidates who compete in the more lucrative jumper divisions (or in the newly-formed USHJA Hunter Derbies and/or other high-level hunter classics) are advised, from 9th grade forward, to keep well-organized records and detailed receipts of their earnings and expenses. If a candidate is determined to seek a spot on a Varsity Equestrian team in college, she's urged to keep an ongoing close eye on the balance between those two columns. A candidate who competes at the higher show jumping or hunter levels might consider the viable option of requesting a reduced payout of prize money at any given show, in an amount that doesn't exceed her expenses. (Horse-show secretaries are becoming well-acquainted with NCAA rules regarding prize money, and most are very willing to work with an exhibitor to adjust her payouts.) If a candidate finds herself with an overall record of more prize money than expenses at the time she applies for NCAA eligibility, she's advised to consult the Texas A&M compliance officer. These officers, who are on the athletic-department staffs at all Varsity Equestrian schools, usually will work with potential recruits on applying for reinstatement in the NCAA, if necessary.

Q) Am I allowed to accept prize money form a horse show after I become a college athlete?
A) Yes.  New legislation from the NCAA does makes it permissible for current student athletes to accept prize money ONLY during the off season (or specifically the summer months)


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