Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  10/13/2010


Please be aware that there are certain NCAA regulations that we must follow in the recruiting process.  Equestrian is recognized as an emerging women’s sport by the NCAA.  A prospect cannot be recruited until July 1st preceding their senior year of high school. If you have not yet reached July 1st of your senior year, we are not permitted to speak with you or discuss our program. We are permitted limited e-mail contact, so that is the best means of communication. 

Once you become a senior, coaches are allowed to call prospects once a week and e-mail communication is unlimited. 

E-mail is always the best way to get in touch with us, as this correspondence is unlimited and we are out of the office a lot.



Q) What events do you compete in?

A) There are four collegiate equestrian events in National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) head to head competition: hunter seat equitation on the flat, hunter seat equitation over fences (both based on USEF standards), western horsemanship, and reining (both based on AQHA rules).

Q) What are you looking for in an equestrian athlete?

A) We are looking for athletes who demonstrate strong equitation skills in their chosen discipline, while being functional on different horses.  As coaches, we have high expectations of our student-athletes in the competition arena, but also in the classroom and community as well.  We want individuals that are team players, are coachable and competitive.  .

Q) What is a typical competition like?
A) We compete in National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) events against other Division I equestrian teams.  Our competition format is head to head.  Student-athletes learn what horse they will be showing using a lottery draw system.  Opposing riders will compete on the same horse; whoever earns the highest score wins the point for her team, much like the scoring system in tennis. The host school provides all of the horses and tack that will be used for the meet.

Please visit www.collegiateequestrian.com to learn more about our national governing body, the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA). 

Q) What is the typical show season?
A) Our show season begins in September and ends in April. We start practice when school starts each semester. 


Facilities and Horses

The NM State Equestrian facility is conveniently located on the NMSU campus. We practice and host meets at the same location.  This makes it very easy for student-athletes to schedule time for practice around their classes. Our facility consists of a stall barn and outdoor turnouts, two arenas, a meeting room, and locker room for student-athletes

NM State Equestrian owns and manages about 35 horses that are used for practice and competition.  Our horse herd is sustained through generous donations and includes NRHA money earners, AQHA point earners, an AQHYA World Champion, former grand prix jumpers and dressage horses, and 'AA' Circuit equitation horses.


Q) What is a typical NM State Equestrian practice like?

A) Practice is conducted daily by the coaches using horses owned by NM State Equestrian. Student-athletes are assigned different horses at each practice to get them comfortable on unfamiliar horses. Student athletes usually practice 3-4 times per week depending on their schedule. Most practices (actual time spent in the saddle) last for about an hour, though student-athletes are expected to do assigned chores each time they come to practice.  We begin team practice as soon as classes start each semester. 

Q) What type of horses do you practice on?
A) Most horses used for hunter seat practice consist of Thoroughbreds and warmbloods.. The majority of western horses are American 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!


Advice for High School Freshmen and Sophomores


Q) What can I do to start preparing for the NM State Equestrian Team?

-         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.

-         From the 9th grade forward, start keeping a detailed accounting of all prize money won and expenses incurred at horse shows. 

-         You may fill out an online questionnaire and send in a DVD at any time, however it is best to wait until the summer before your senior year of high school to ensure that your information doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

Q) Can I contact the coaches at NM State?
A) At any time, you may send an e-mail 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 e-mail or returning a phone call) to you during your freshman and sophomore years.

Q) Can I visit NM State 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 the NM State Equestrian Team?

-         Put together a video of your riding and showing abilities (specific requirements are detailed below).

-         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 recently; and your membership ID numbers for the equestrian organizations you belong to (i.e. USEF, AQHA, and NRHA etc).

-         Compile official show record summaries to submit from your respective breed show registries.

-         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.

-         Fill out and submit the online questionnaire (INSERT LINK TO OUR QUESTIONNAIRE HERE)

-         Send your transcripts (may be unofficial), a copy of test scores (from testing center), and other requested paperwork with your video, or as soon as available.  THIS IS REQUIRED BEFORE ANY SCHOLARSHIP OFFER CAN BE MADE

-         Register with NCAA Clearinghouse.  You will need to registered and cleared to compete on any NCAA Equestrian Team. http://eligibilitycenter.org/ECWR2/NCAA_EMS/NCAA.html

-         Submit your video and other requested information.  Packets should be sent addressed to the appropriate coach, MSC 3145, PO Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM  88003.

a.     HUNTER SEAT prospects – Jessica Steele

b.    WESTERN prospects – Robin Morris-Walters

Q) What should I include in a DVD for Hunter Seat?

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 example of a typical flat test.

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.  Keep in mind that we regularly compete at fence heights of 3’ to 3’6”, so we need to see you jump at that height.

DO wear breeches, tall boots and a form-fitting, tucked-in shirt so that we can 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 green horse.

DO use a DVD format or upload to YouTube.

DO remember to attach your name and all of your contact information to your video case.

Please keep video length under 15 minutes.

Q) What should I include in a DVD for Horsemanship?


DO show examples of showing and schooling; specifically horsemanship. Please include transitions, turn-around/pivots, extension/speed, collection, and no-stirrup work.  If you would like you can include some western riding and Equitation but other show events (showmanship, trail, HUS, pleasure) are not necessary.

DO try to include video of you riding at least 3 different horses if possible.  Please ride one-handed.

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

DO use a DVD format or upload to YouTube.

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

Please keep video length under 15 minutes.

Q) What should I include in a DVD for Reining?

DO show examples of showing and schooling (reining & working cowhorse okay). Please include any exercises that you use to school specific 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 and indicate (with video captions) each horse's age and the current level of its showing or training.

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

DO use a DVD format or upload to YouTube.

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

Please keep video length under 15 minutes.

Q) When should I send my DVD and other pertinent information?
A) You should send your information during the summer immediately preceding your senior year of high school. Official recruiting begins July 1st.

Q) What are my options for visiting NM State and the coaches?
A) There are two options for visiting NM State and the coaches - “official visits” and “unofficial visits”.

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. It is recommended, however, 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 NMSU Admissions and set up a campus tour. They can also assist you in contacting an academic advisor in the area of study that you are interested in.

During your senior year of high school, you also have the possibility of receiving an invitation from the coaches for an "official visit" (i.e. NMSU will cover some of your travel expenses). During this visit, we will set up campus and facility tours, as well as meetings with coaches and advisors.  NMSU has a limited number of official visits each year.

If you are a hunter seat rider, you should set up a meeting with Coach Jessica Steele. If you are a western rider, you should set up a meeting with Coach Robin Morris-Walters.

Q) How do I make the NM State Equestrian Team?

A) There are three ways to make the team:

1.     Scholarship recruit – A student-athlete who is offered a spot on the roster along with an athletic scholarship prior to the season.

2.     Preferred walk-on – A student-athlete that is offered a spot on the roster prior to the start of the season.

3.     Walk-on – A student-athlete who makes the team through walk-on tryouts.

All decisions regarding guaranteed roster positions will be made by the end of May.  If you do not make the team through this process, please contact us about the possibility of a walk-on tryout.


Q) Are scholarships available for NM State Equestrian Athletes?
A) We are a fully funded NCAA Division I program with access to 15 full scholarships (as limited by the NCAA for the sport of equestrian). Scholarships are divided amongst our roster and are awarded by the coaches. There are many factors that determine scholarship awards, including academics, leadership, riding and show experience and success, and geography of hometown.

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 please check with the coaches and the NCAA Compliance staff.

NCAA Questions
Please visit www.ncaa.org to familiarize yourself with what is required to become a NCAA student athlete.

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 sophomore year in high school. If a prospective student athlete or their parent calls a coach and she is a sophomore or younger, the coach will only be able to explain the NCAA rules that must be followed, no specific NM State questions can be answered.

Q) If a prospective student athlete (PSA) is thinking of joining the NM State 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: http://eligibilitycenter.org/ECWR2/NCAA_EMS/NCAA.html.

Q) Can I win prize money at horse shows?
A) Under NCAA rules, athletes must be certified as an NCAA Amateur athlete. 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 NCEA 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 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 NM State compliance officer. 

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