Equestrian Boarding Schools

equestrian program
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A unique program offered at many private schools is a comprehensive horseback riding program. These elite equestrian programs at private schools boast equestrian facilities which rival some of the best in the world. Private schools offer opportunities that can't be found at your local public school, and equestrian boarding schools offer an immersive experience that is unrivaled by high school riders. 

Catering to riders of all levels, from beginners to the most competitive riders in the world, these schools offer a wide range of opportunities. Many students take their horses with them to school and board them in top-notch facilities, while other students experience riding for the first time atop a school-owned horse. 

Equestrian programs at private schools are often quite comprehensive, offering both riding lessons with accomplished professionals and courses or programs in stable management. Riding programs often include both private riding lessons and semi-private riding lessons, often referred to as group lessons. Instructors at these schools are licensed professionals, many of whom hold a number of top titles themselves, having had accomplished careers as equestrians.

Equestrian boarding schools, in particular, are known for offering hands-on internships at the stables, which often help students understand what goes into running an equestrian program - from cleaning stalls and managing tack to coordinating lessons and exercising the horses. Some schools will even offer an equine management track to give students who want a professional career working with horses. 

If your child is an equestrian, you will want to take a look at these equestrian boarding schools as you develop your short list of possibilities. Be aware that each of these schools has high admissions standards. You need to be both a good student and a good rider to get in!

Chatham Hall, Chatham, Virginia

Chatham Hall School
Photo © Chatham Hall School

The Riding Program at Chatham Hall offers forward seat fundamentals and modern hunter and equitation styles. Chatham Hall's riding program teaches all aspects of horsemanship and ensures students have the training to handle horses successfully in and out of the ring. In addition to a regular lesson program and everyday competition, the school boasts an Interscholastic Equestrian Team (IEA) is made up of riders from varying levels, which travels and competes at different venues locally and nationally.

Dana Hall School, Wellesley, Massachusetts

Dana Hall's Riding Center has been around since the 1930s. What more can one say about such a program except that it is the sine qua non of programs? The location just outside of Boston gives you ready access to a host of superb cultural and academic offerings. Just make sure your daughter's marks are as good as her riding skills because this school has high admission standards.

Fountain Valley School of Colorado, Colrado Springs, Colorado

Western-style riding has been a part of Fountain Valley School's programs for over 75 years. On the other hand, English-style riding is fairly new to the school. By the way, you can 'pasture' your horse here too.

Foxcroft School, Middleburg, Virginia

Set in the rolling horse country of Virginia just west of the nation's capital, Foxcroft has had a riding program since 1914. This is another highly competitive school with academic standards and achievements which bring honor to the school's sterling reputation.

Kent School, Kent, Connecticut

Located in the foothills of the Berkshires just 2 hours from Manhattan, Kent School enjoys the fruits of many years of hard work. After all, hard work is what the founder, Father Sill, was all about. Now that the boys' and the girls' campuses are consolidated, all the facilities are nicely integrated and accessible. The Kent School Riding Stables offer indoor and outdoor rings and are beautifully managed.

The Madeira School, McLean, Virginia

Madeira fields a varsity and junior varsity riding team and competes in several interscholastic show series including the Tri-State Equitation League, the Mid-Atlantic Show Series, the National Interscholastic Equestrian Association, and the Interscholastic Equestrian Association on the national level.

We think the school's Web site states the case pretty succinctly. This is a serious riding school with academics to match. Great location just a few miles from D.C.

The Orme School, Orme, Arizona

A 26,000-acre working ranch for a campus? Don't tell me that doesn't make for a serious equestrian program. There isn't much about horses you won't know if you go to this school. Solid academic focus as well.

Saint Timothy's School, Stevenson, Maryland

Is Saint Timothy's the only private school which offers participation in the local fox-hunting events? It seems to be the only one which mentions a hunt. In any case, it gives you an idea of the depth and breadth of the school's equestrian program.

Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Greenfield, Massachusetts

Stoneleigh-Burnham School
Photo © Stoneleigh-Burnham School

Stoneleigh-Burnham School was established in 1869 and traces the roots of its riding program back to the early 20th century. A small New England girls' school with boarding and day options in both the middle and upper school, Stoneleigh-Burnham is known nationally for its riding program.

The Stoneleigh-Burnham Riding Program supports a variety of levels and interests. Girls who ride at Stoneleigh-Burnham are pleasure riders, interested beginners and serious competitors. The proximity of the Equestrian Center to the main building (on the main campus and about a two-minute walk from the dormitories) allows students the opportunity to access the barn during the day as well as after school.

The Thacher School, Ojai, California

Combine English-style equitation with real western horsemanship and you have the unique riding program at The Thacher School. Oh, and did we mention they have Percheron draft horses too?

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Kennedy, Robert. "Equestrian Boarding Schools." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/equestrian-private-schools-2774742. Kennedy, Robert. (2020, August 27). Equestrian Boarding Schools. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/equestrian-private-schools-2774742 Kennedy, Robert. "Equestrian Boarding Schools." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/equestrian-private-schools-2774742 (accessed June 2, 2023).