Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully this page will be able to answer many of the questions you might have about our program or the varsity sport of equestrian.  If you still have questions after looking through our website, please feel free to contact us at .


Do I need a horse to be a member of the equestrian team?
No. Horses are owned and provided by each university. Team horses are accepted as donations through the Kansas State University Athletic Department. 

Can I use my own horse?
No. Team owned/leased horses are used for all practices and home competitions. During away competitions we will compete on the host schools’ horses. You are allowed to have your own horse while in college for your own personal use.

Will it cost me anything to be a member of the equestrian team?
No. The equestrian team provides saddles and tack for riding.  Show apparel is also available to be checked out from the team.  The Hunter Seat riders compete in team shirts and coats, and the Western riders show in team tops and jackets.  Breeches, boots, hats, chaps, etc, are all available to you if you do not own them. However, if students have their own show clothing, they may be allowed to wear it along with the team tops. Traveling costs and horse show entry fees are paid for by the athletic department. 


What is the difference between Varsity and IHSA?
Varsity Competition.
The standard events for varsity competitions include reining, horsemanship, hunter seat equitation on the flat, and hunter seat equitation over fences. Reining is judged and scored following the standard NRHA/AQHA scoring system; the only difference is that riders are riding an unfamiliar horse. Horsemanship scoring follows the same guidelines as reining, where maneuvers are given a score from +1 to -1 . The horsemanship patterns at varsity shows are longer and more complex than a standard horse show, and we remove the rail work portion of the class and only a pattern is judged. The equitation on the flat class is unique as it is set in a 20x40 meter dressage ring with dressage letters and riders are given a pre-determined test to perform. The judge will score each maneuver on a scale of 0-10 and tally the points; thus the total possible score is 100.  While it is similar to a dressage test, the rider is to be judged on her effectiveness and equitation in addition to the quality of movements. The Equitation over Fences class is judged according to USEF standards where riders will jump a course consisting of 8 fences at a maximum height of 3’6”. The judge then assigns one overall score to the ride.

In competition, one rider from each school will compete in a head-to-head format on the same horse. Riders are drawn at random to determine who they will compete against and which horse they will ride. Each rider receives a 4-5 minute warm-up period to get a feel for their horse. Then an approved judge will score each rider’s performance. When the scores of the two riders are compared, the rider with the higher score receives one point for her team. This format promotes a true team atmosphere and winning truly becomes a team effort. At the end of the day, the points are tallied and the team with the most points is declared the winner. Horses are provided by the host school, so riders will compete on their schools horses at home competitions and the host schools’ horses at away competitions.

IHSA. The same standard events are offered in IHSA competition as they are in Varsity. The first major difference is that riders will be placed in divisions based on their riding experience before entering college. Divisions start with beginner and go through stages up to Open; and riders can point up into different divisions. The second major difference is that riders will be judged in a class like a standard horse show and will be placed 1st thru 7th. Riders are not given a warm-up time; but rather they will be led to the gate to ensure they have no opportunity to handle their horse prior to being judged. Reining is judged and scored following NRHA/AQHA guidelines; however the IHSA has a different set of reining patterns from NRHA/AQHA. Horsemanship classes will start with railwork and then the riders can be asked to perform a pre-determined pattern. Equitation on the Flat will start with railwork, then the judge may ask the riders to perform additional maneuvers as a test. Equitation over Fences follows the same industry guideline.

What format does Kansas State compete in?
We are a Varsity program that competes primarily in Varsity competitions. However, we are different from other schools because we do host 1 Hunter Seat and 1 Western IHSA show per season.

When is the show season for the Equestrian Team?
Our season runs all academic year and is heaviest September thru April. December and January are slower months as the students will be out of school for break. Most shows are held on weekends to ensure athletes are not missing much school.

Do all riders get to compete?
In a Varsity competition we usually compete anywhere from 4-10 riders per event. Competition numbers vary from show to show. In IHSA competition we will usually compete 10-15 riders total.

Life of an athlete

How many times do student athletes practice per week?
All athletes are scheduled to practice 3 times per week. The coaches hold practices daily and assign you to practice times around your class schedule. Coaches will assign you a different horse to ride each practice to help riders stay comfortable riding unfamiliar horses. In addition to 3 mandatory practices, the coaches will frequently offer open riding’ times where athletes can come out voluntarily to get in more ride time.

What type of horses do you practice/compete on?
For Western, the majority of the herd is Quarter Horses and Paints. Hunter Seat riders practice/compete mostly on Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods.

What other activities are mandatory for student-athletes?
All athletes are required to do 3 strength and conditioning sessions per week. Times are assigned by the coaches around your class schedule. Athletes will work with a strength trainer during their sessions.

Incoming freshman on scholarship are required to do study table their first semester in college. After that, all athletes can be placed on study table hours depending on what their GPA is. Study table is where athletes have to sign in at the appropriate locations and log a certain number of study table hours per week. This is to help ensure athletes are setting aside time each week to study and keep their grades up so that they remain eligible.

Throughout the year there will be other events that occur randomly. We have team meetings once a month, various community service activities, barn cleaning in preparation for home shows, horse care, etc.


When can a prospective Student-Athlete contact the Equestrian Team?
A prospective student-athlete can contact us by phone at any time. Coaches can only return a call to a prospect or their parent if it is after July 1 prior to their senior year of high school. If you are younger and the coach answers the phone when you call, the coach may only be able to explain the NCAA rules.

When is it permissible for a Coach to write/e-mail a prospect?
Beginning September 1 of your junior year in high school, a coach may write or e-mail you and send you approved recruiting materials.