Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) announced the United States Equestrian Federation’s (USEF) approval to form a new national 3’3″ equitation class: the NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal. Open to all USEF and Equine Canada licensed competitors, NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal finalists will earn national visibility and increase their exposure for collegiate equestrian scholarships. Riders will also experience, for the first time, the bracket style competition.

“This new medal class provides junior competitors an opportunity to distinguish themselves among their peers by competing in a format similar to what they would find at the college level,” said Dr. Leah Fiorentino, executive director of the NCEA. “The head-to-head bracket format enables many top junior equestrians, both Hunt Seat and Western, the ability to continue to compete at their pre-college levels and promotes excellence not just in the ring, but in the classroom as well. This medal class is a celebration of the athleticism seen in young equestrian competitors across the nation, and introduces them to a new format at the finals where they compete against another rider on the same horse.”

Initiated by the NCEA’s National Advisory Board (NAB), the NCEA Junior Hunt Seat classes will begin at participating horse shows as early as spring 2016. HITS will host two finals for the medal class, the first on the East Coast at HITS Culpeper, September 28 to October 2, 2016, and the second on the West Coast at HITS Thermal, Sunshine II, November 9 to 13, 2016. Class specifications include:

“These new medal finals will fill a niche at the 3’3″ height. The fact that junior riders will be in a position to showcase their talents on a larger scale creates an extraordinary opportunity,” said Thomas G. Struzzieri, president and CEO of HITS, Inc. “2016 will feature finals on both coasts in what will be the first year of a quickly popular medal class.”

In this inaugural season of the NCEA Medal class, the top 50 point earners on the East and West Coasts respectively, will be invited to compete at the finals. Points earned in all classes held at shows starting in early 2016 through August 31 will be eligible for the 2016 finals.

“We are proud to support this new and challenging 3’3″ medal class for riders 18 years of age and under,” said Lori Nelson, senior director of National Affiliate, Competition and Alliance Partner Relationships for the United States Equestrian Federation. “Collegiate equestrian creates a bigger pool of talent at all levels in the equine world and assures the nation that we can continue to be competitive in international showjumping competitions and world equestrian games.”

The NCEA is working with the AQHA and other governing bodies in the Western Horsemanship and Reining industries to establish a similar bracket format competition for youth riders in those disciplines interested in a collegiate equestrian career.

“I am very excited to be part of the inception of the NCEA 3’3″ medal class for which I believe is greatly needed in our sport,” said Carolyn Vincent, secretary of the NCEA Medal class.

The NAB has initiated the NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal to continue to build support for independently sustainable collegiate equestrian programs and provide opportunities for junior riders to increase recognition for their athletic achievements. The NCEA’s NAB is committed to elevating and advancing equestrian to the most sustainable and strongest of all NCAA women’s sports. The NCAA currently recognizes 24 colleges and universities with equestrian programs and is working with more than a dozen more to expand the program to additional academic institutions.

For more information about the NCEA or the Junior Hunt Seat Medal, please visit

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