first printed in the October 2017 Equiery

There seems to be a bit of a kerfuffle with the two national associations providing umbrella-association services for college and university riding teams.

During the summer, the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) sent an official notification that as of Aug. 30, 2017, any college or university that elects to join the National Equestrian Collegiate Association (NCEA) will be ineligible to join the IHSA.

By Sept 7, IHSA had reconsidered, and issued the following memo:
Upon further evaluation, the IHSA executive committee has decided to allow IHSA and NCEA dual memberships for the 2017-2018 academic year. Colleges and universities that are members of and/or plan to compete in NCEA may continue to participate and compete in the IHSA.
Evaluation of this decision will continue and will be presented to the IHSA board at their January 2018 meeting. The IHSA leadership asks affected college and university equestrian programs for patience to allow the organization time to meet, evaluate and determine a path forward that is in the best interest of the IHSA and the equestrian collegiate sport community.
    The IHSA, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, includes 400 member teams and 10,000 riders in Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship and Reining. The IHSA encompasses 40 Regions, 8 Zones and 45 states and Canada. College or university teams, individuals, alumni and coaches may become members, and supports teams for NCAA Div. I, II and III schools, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools, community colleges and two-year junior colleges. The IHSA program offersmembership and competition to both male and female undergraduate athletes and alumni. The IHSA membership roster includes all accredited degree granting institutions including NAIA schools, Community Colleges and Junior Colleges, and offers competition at eight riding levels, from walk-trot through open in both team and individual competition.

Meanwhile, the NCEA was created in response to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) identifying equestrian competition in 1998 as an emerging sport for women at the Division I and II and III levels. Currently, there are 18 Division I and four Division II programs sponsoring equestrian.

In the fall of 2014, the CWA recommended that Equestrian be dropped from the Emerging Sports list due to the limited growth in the number of teams sponsoring Equestrian.  Representatives from Division I and Division II rejected the CWA recommendation in support of maintaining participation opportunities for women. Multiple updates on the progress of the sport from the NCEA leadership convinced the CWA to reconsider its earlier action.

Part of the NCEA’s new structure includes a National Advisory Board (NAB) comprised of corporate leaders, philanthropists, and equine industry experts.  The goal of the NAB is to develop the financial support to make riding competitions the first financially-independent non-revenue generating collegiate sport.

Maryland is represented in the IHSA by Salisbury University, Washington College, Goucher College, Johns Hopkins University, St. Mary’s College, University of Maryland, Hood College, Mount St. Mary’s University, Towson University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Maryland does not have any schools in the NCEA (although neighboring Delaware State University is a Division I school).