Every year, hundreds of thousands of college student-athletes put on their school colors and complete in dozens of varsity sports. Some are high profile events with millions of fans worldwide, like football and basketball. Others, like water polo and gymnastics, are not as visible but are equally, if not more, demanding.
One of the newest and most challenging college sports is varsity equestrian. A women's sport that primarily takes place in the fall and spring, equestrian takes individual abilities and translates them into a team sport.
Season: For the 23 colleges that compete in Division I and II varsity equestrian, the season typically starts in the fall and culminates in a championship event in April. Many events are head-to-head matchups between two schools, while some are larger meets with many schools. The NCAA Championships take place over several days, where athletes compete and earn points for their teams. Individual winners are crowned in different events before an overall team winner is declared.
Skills: In many ways, horseback riding is an art form, similar to dance or gymnastics. Skilled riders can put on a show with their horse, navigating different courses with grace and beauty. At the same time, it provides a good physical workout for riders. Horseback riding improves balance and muscle strength and demands an intense amount of focus. Good hand-eye coordination is required to help navigate the horse over obstacles. Practicing horseback riding can also improve reflexes and reaction time. Equestrian is an excellent way to combine physical fitness and artistic talent and is a great sport.
Teamwork: Many current college equestrians say that their favorite part about the sport is the sense of teamwork. Many athletes grow up riding horses alone and competing as individuals, so being a part of a team is something different. Even though only one rider competes at a time, the team is there to cheer, offer support and give advice. Each rider is competing for the same goal, which is really what teamwork is all about.
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