Frequently Asked Questions
How long has Albion College had an equestrian program?
The Albion College Equestrian Club was founded in the fall of 2002 and began participating in shows the following year. The Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center opened in the fall of 2004.
Where is the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center?
We are located just south of the main campus on 29 Mile Road South, behind Bellemont Manor. For exact directions, see the Maps and Directions page.
Can I visit the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center?
Yes. We love to have visitors meet our staff, students, and horses. We simply ask that you make an appointment first so that we have someone available to show you around. To schedule a visit to campus and the equestrian center, please call 800-858-6770 (Office of Admission) or the Held Center office at 517-629-0836.
Can I walk to the center from main campus?
It is possible to walk to the center from main campus, but most students bicycle or carpool with other riders. Students who participate in group riding lessons are encouraged to share rides to and from the barn. Albion College's Office of Campus Safety also acts as a shuttle service for students who need rides to and from the barn.
What disciplines are included in the riding programs?
Riders and student boarders at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center are welcome to ride in the discipline of their choosing and are a diverse population of equestrians. The most popular disciplines are hunters, jumpers, combined training, dressage, and western.
What is the difference between the equestrian club and the equestrian teams?
The equestrian club at Albion College is open to anyone who wishes to participate and has an interest in horses. It is not limited to riders or horse owners. The club meets periodically through the semester for fun activities, such as horse movie nights or visits to nearby farms. They also do several fundraising events each year for local equine charities. The equestrian club is the umbrella organization for all three equestrian teams; team members are all required to be a part of the club.
The equestrian teams at Albion College compete at the varsity or club level, with members selected during fall tryouts. Hunt seat is a varsity sport at Albion and the team is a member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Members of all teams travel to shows on many weekends during the academic year and are required to take a minimum of two lessons per week with our team coaches.
Can I get a job at the barn?
A select number of students are hired each fall and spring to assist with turn-in and other miscellaneous tasks, but our riders' primary jobs at Albion College are to be students. We have a full staff to do all feeding, mucking, and general tasks that spring up from day to day.
Does Albion offer degrees in Equine Science?
While the majority of our graduates go on to careers in professional fields, including business, medicine, education, public policy, and countless others, we are also committed to our students' equine education. Though no degree program exists, we offer regular lectures, clinics, and symposia from noted veterinarians, trainers, and other equine professionals so that our students have frequent opportunities to expand their equine education in the areas of nutrition, conditioning and fitness, equine business, and riding theory.
Does Albion offer degrees in veterinary medicine?
As an undergraduate institution, Albion has a number of academic programs that give students excellent preparation for success in health-related and animal-related fields. The College's biology and chemistry departments, neuroscience concentration and the Institute for Healthcare Professions provide excellent classroom, internship and research opportunities. Both the biology and psychology departments offer animal behavior classes, and the faculty conducts research and may direct independent study in this field.
Moreover, Albion counts thousands of successful veterinarians, physicians, dentists and other health-care professionals among its alumni. More than 90 percent of Albion students who meet GPA requirements for graduate school admission are accepted each year to veterinary, medical, and dental schools. Visit the Health Care Institute to learn more.
Does Albion offer scholarships for riders?
Albion College athletics are played at the NCAA Division III level, which prohibits any student-athlete from receiving scholarship money for an athletic endeavor, including equestrian sports. However, 97% of Albion students are awarded some form of financial aid based on their academic performance in high school, demonstrated financial need, or both.
Academic scholarships begin at $12,500 for students who meet the academic criteria. Visit the Financial Aid section of our site to learn more.
How much does it cost to board a horse at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center?
Board is $575 per month, although there is a $100 discount per month per horse for boarding more than one horse. Each student who brings a horse is required to sign a nine-month contract in order to secure a stall; year- round board is also available.
How do I reserve a stall for my horse?
Just like our students, horses are required to "apply" to Albion too. After student horse owners are accepted to the college by the Office of Admission, he or she must submit an application form detailing the horse's history, as well as a video of the horse under saddle.
Videos need only be 5-10 minutes in length and must simply show what the horse is capable of (e.g. walk, trot, canter under saddle and jumping where applicable). Video footage helps the barn staff to make sure that the disciplines and training levels represented at the Held Center are diverse.
Please note that stallions are not allowed to board at the Held Equestrian Center.
If I bring my horse to Albion, will he/she become a part of the college riding program?
Only our College-owned school horses are used in the riding program. Student horses are the responsibility of their owners. Students may, however, volunteer their horses to be placed in the draw for College-hosted meets if they choose.
How often are stalls cleaned? What about feeding schedules?
Our stalls are cleaned once per day and the horses are fed at 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day. (Additional feedings can be arranged with the stable manager as needed.)
Are horses turned out at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center?
Yes. The equestrian center has 37 half-acre grass turnout pastures for student boarders and our own school horses. When weather permits, all horses are turned out in their own individual paddocks to graze.
What if horses are not able to be turned out, due to weather or another reason?
Two covered, European-style horse walkers allow horses stabled at the Held Equestrian Center to be exercised daily, even in inclement weather. The walkers can be programmed to work horses at the walk, trot, and canter and workout programs can be customized for the needs of individual horses.
Horses at the Held Center are turned out on a limited basis in winter months. The walkers are used to supplement when turnout lacks, and they are exercised for 30-45 minutes each morning on the walkers.
Are there required items that my horse will need if we board at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center?
As with most barns, we require that each resident horse have the necessary and up-to-date vaccinations, including a Coggins test for the current year. They also must have an appropriately fitted halter and lead rope. We do not, however, require any other particular items (such as special wraps or a blanket of a certain color/make). Each horse simply needs that equipment which is adequate for him/her.
How often does the vet/farrier come? Can I bring my own vet/farrier in to treat my horse?
The farrier visits Albion once every week, though he can be called in for special cases as necessary. Most horses at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center are on a 6-7 week shoeing schedule. Outside farriers may be brought in with permission from the stable manager.
The vet also visits Albion on a regular basis as needed. Most simple daily tasks (including administration of medications) are handled by the equestrian center staff, however. Students are always notified when the vet will be coming in case he needs to see an additional case. Outside vets may be brought in with permission from the stable manager and the Held Center works with outside specialists for more serious injury and rehabilitation cases.
In addition, an equine dentist visits the Held Center twice annually and other specialists (including a chiropractor) are brought in on a regular basis.
Can I work off some/all of my board?
A select number of students are hired each fall and spring to assist with turn-in and other miscellaneous tasks, but they are paid monthly by a pay check from the campus accounting office. Students may apply these funds to their board bills, but the labor does not off-set boarding or lesson costs.
Do I have to own my own horse to ride at Albion?
No. The Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center owns lesson horses for student use.
Lesson costs can vary based on how long a lesson lasts, whether it is private or group, and how many lessons a student takes per week. The current breakdown of availability and pricing is available here.
I don't want to ride on the team but I'd like to ride. Is that okay?
Absolutely. Anyone can take lessons at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center, whether they ride for the Albion College team or not. The only requirement for riding at Albion is to pass a basic fitness test, which includes a one mile run, a one minute wall sit, a series of sit-ups, and a sit and reach for flexibilty.
What types of horses are the school horses at Albion?
Our school horses are all types and vary for the discipline used. They range from Warmbloods to Thoroughbreds to stock horse crosses. We have horses capable of basic dressage, work on the flat, some jumping, and others trained for western equitation and pleasure. However we do have some who specialize in one particular area, including schoolmasters for FEI dressage and show jumpers capable of doing 4’ courses.
Learn more about guidelines for donating a horse to the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center.
Meet our instructors by checking out the Staff Page.
Can I bring in an outside instructor to work with me?
The Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center is for the sole use of those student riders and boarders who participate in the Albion College riding program. Due to heavy stable and arena traffic, we cannot allow outside instructors to come in.
I've never ridden previously but I've always wanted to. Can I take lessons if I'm a beginner?
Yes. Lessons at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center are open to everyone, regardless of previous experience with horses. If you've never ridden or been around horses before, expect to spend your first few lessons on the ground learning how to handle a horse on a lead rope, tack up, and other necessary skills before you take to the saddle.
What clothing is required for riders at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center?
All riders at the equestrian center must wear an ASTM/SEI approved helmet when mounted. No exceptions. Those students who do not own a helmet may borrow one of the helmets stocked by the center. Women must contain their hair under their helmets.
Students must wear appropriate hard-soled footwear when working around the horses. When riding, jeans or breeches with half-chaps or tall boots are recommended for English riders; western riders may wear jeans with appropriate boots.
What times are lessons scheduled?
Lessons are scheduled around the times our students are in class. Group lessons are the norm to accommodate team practices; individual lessons are available and can be scheduled whenever the student has a break period. Lessons are usually held Monday through Friday, as Saturday and Sunday tend to be show days.
What is the difference between the equestrian club and the equestrian teams? Can anyone join?
The equestrian club at Albion College is open to anyone who has an interest in horses and wishes to participate. It is not limited to riders or horse owners. The club meets periodically through the semester for fun activities, such as horse movie nights or visits to nearby farms.
The equestrian teams at Albion College compete at both the varsity and club level, with members selected during fall tryouts. All members of the three Albion College equestrian teams are required to be a part of the equestrian club.
What are the competitive equestrian teams at Albion College?
Albion's varsity-level team is hunt seat and the team is a member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). Team members travel to shows on many weekends during the academic year and are required to take lessons with our coaches at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center.
Dressage is a competitive club sport at Albion. The team regularly competes as a member of the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) against teams that share our region, including Lake Erie College. During the school year, members of all teams travel to a minimum of four shows, where they compete successfully both as a team and as individuals. Team members are required to take lessons with our coaches at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center.
Stock seat (western) is also a competitive club sport at Albion. The team regularly competes as a member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). Team members are required to take lessons with our Albion College coaches. The stock seat team currently practices out of our coach’s facility in Marshall, but plans are in the works to move the entire Stock Seat program to the Held Center in the near future.
I've ridden a lot but I've never shown before; should I even bother to try out?
Yes! We seek riders of all levels to be on our teams. Those riders who have not shown previously often have an advantage over those who have. Both the IHSA and the IDA have levels that range from introductory walk-trot through open division and Albion College riders from all divisions have competed successfully at national levels.
How do I become a member of one of Albion's equestrian teams?
Joining the equestrian team is as simple as trying out. Paperwork to assess students' riding levels and separate them into the appropriate skill groups are sent to all interested first-year students prior to fall semester and fitness testing and tryouts are held at the start of classes in the fall. Tryouts are open to all riders.
First-year students are encouraged to send video footage of their riding to the coaches during the summer prior to their arrival. This allows the coaches to view the riders on familiar horses in a relaxed setting prior to viewing them on unfamiliar mounts at team tryouts.
How many people make the teams?
Team sizes vary by discipline and by the needs of the team in a particular school year. Dressage is the smallest of our three teams and is usually made up of 8 members, which are broken into an "A" and a "B" team. Hunt seat and stock seat carry a minimum of 16-18 members and are usually larger in order to fill all competition divisions as riders on the teams secure enough points during the course of the season to move up through the IHSA levels.
The primary goal of each of our equestrian teams is to win meets and each team is structured in the manner which our coaches believe will give us the best advantage in competition.
What does the fitness test entail?
The fitness test is designed to encourage all riders in the Albion equestrian program to adopt a healthy lifestyle for their own welfare and the welfare of the horses in our program. Students are asked to accomplish four tasks for assessment: run one mile in 11 minutes or less, do 30 sit ups or more in one minute and 15 seconds, perform a wall sit for one minute, and execute a sit and reach. Tasks are not graded on pass/fail, but rather on a 1-5 scale that allows for coach discretion.
The fitness test is performed prior to team tryouts in the fall. Any student who does not meet the standard upon initial testing has the option to re-test at a later date.
What will I have to do at tryouts?
Tryouts are set up just like an IHSA or IDA competition. At tryouts, you will ride with other members of your division and be assessed by our coaching staff. All riders - including those who are boarding a horse at the Held Center - will be assigned a school horse from the Albion College lesson program. Riders may be asked to switch horses during the course of the tryout as well.
What equipment/clothing will I need for the team?
Those members of the Albion College Equestrian teams will need to provide their own show clothes:
Hunt Seat: Breeches of a neutral shade, tall boots, short or long-sleeved show shirt with appropriate neck wear, hunt coat, dark gloves, and ASTM/SEI approved helmet.
Dressage: White breeches, tall boots, short or long-sleeved show shirt with stock tie OR dickie, black or navy blue jacket, white gloves, and ASTM/SEI approved helmet.
Western: Show pants, chaps, equitation shirt/blouse, cowboy boots, gloves of the appropriate color for outfit, cowboy hat.
Do you have to own a horse to show in college competition? And if I have my own horse, will I be showing him/her?
No and no. IHSA and IDA competitions take place on horses borrowed from the home school. Riders draw their horses once they arrive and are given information on the horse that they have drawn. They may have an opportunity to watch the horse go before their class but they do not actually meet the horse until it's time to go into the arena. Hunt seat and western riders get no warm-up time; dressage riders are allotted 10 minutes to warm up under the supervision of their coach.
Where are meets held? Does Albion host any meets?
Albion hosts approximately three intercollegiate meets per year - one per discipline. Other meets take place at Lake Erie College (OH), Grand Valley State University (MI), Michigan State University (MI), the University of Michigan (MI), Western Michigan University (MI), Saginaw Valley State University (MI), and the University of Western Ontario (CAN).
How long is the show season?
Meets are held year-round, beginning in the middle of September and going through the beginning of April. For IHSA, Regionals, Zones, and Nationals go through the months of April and May. For IDA, Regionals and Nationals go through the end of April. Students and teams must qualify to compete at each level (Regional – National).
Can anyone go watch a meet?
Yes. Meets are open to the public. Check the Held Center events page for dates or visit the IHSA online at www.ihsainc.com or visit the IDA online at www.teamdressage.com.
How much does it cost to be on a team?
Costs for riders is minimal. Each team member must pay for two lessons per week with one of our team coaches. (The majority of lessons are group; semi-private and private are available.) For hunt seat team members, the varsity athletic budget covers all other costs, including travel, entry fees, food and hotels.
Riders on the club dressage or club western teams must pay for two lessons per week with one of our team coaches, as well as all of their food while traveling to meets and the travel expenses for our coach. Other costs, including hotels, travel, and entry fees, are covered by a budget from the Albion College student senate as well as through club fundraising efforts.
Are riders ever on two teams, such as hunt seat and dressage or hunt seat and western?
Because meets often occur on the same weekends and overlap, riders must be on one team only.
I show in multiple divisions (i.e. English and western or combined training and jumpers); which team should I try out for?
You may try out for multiple teams and our coaches can assign you to where your skills will be of the most use.
I also play a varsity sport (i.e. basketball, volleyball, etc.). Can I do that and be on the equestrian team?
Because of the time commitment required with a varsity sport (including training times and traveling to away meets and competitions), we discourage riders from attempting to participate in equestrian and another varsity sport at Albion. Students are encouraged to try out for the team and, if they are not selected, are encouraged to continue their riding at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center while participating in their other sport.