BY INTERN VYLA CARTER
The US Equestrian Lettering Program was started by the United States Equestrian Federation to recognize and honor student athletes in grades five through twelve. This program allows junior high school and high school students to receive a varsity letter, just like that of any other varsity high school athlete.
Earning a Varsity letter through USEF is a great way for a student to get recognized for his or her dedication to the equestrian sport. Getting recognized as a varsity letter holder can benefit a rider in several ways other than just being formally recognized. One way it helps is when completing college applications or resumes, because getting recognized through a formal federation gives more credibility.
The lettering program can also help riders avoid taking an extra physical education credit. Some schools count sports outside the classroom for this requirement. This can allow a student to put riding towards their physical education instead of having to take the actual class, just like a varsity soccer player could do.
To start the varsity lettering process, one must submit an application and pay a $15 application fee. The student is given a log to fill out, recording his or her riding in the year allotted. 100 hours of riding or a minimum of three competitions must be completed. Hours logged cannot include time grooming, working at the barn or any other non-riding activities unless it is ground work with the horse. The application requirement is to provide evidence of current enrollment in school. This proof can be a report card or transcript.
Once a student completes the required riding time, he or she can send in his or her documentation to get verified and complete the program. With each year that a student completes the lettering program, he or she receives a free letterman patch and pin. Each item has the United States Equestrian Federation logo on it along with up to 4 stars, one for each year of completing the program. The student will also receive access to an online shop where he or she can buy products, like the best saddle pads and jackets, that indicate that he or she is part of the US equestrian lettering program.
The US equestrian lettering program has been able to provide opportunities and recognition to young equestrian athletes throughout the United States. Find more information about the program and how to join here.
Article edited on Jan 17, 2019 to reflect program updates.