by Rachel Gaardsmoe for Equine Business Management class
Some of you may be sitting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. watching your friends compete through this organization called Intercollegiate Horse Show Association a.k.a. IHSA. Now, some people may understand it and others may be scrolling past these post and pictures completely lost on the gibberish that their friend is speaking. That’s where I come in. Since we are getting ready for IHSA Western Regionals this Sunday February 28th and Hunter Seat Regionals Saturday March 12th, I figured I would give you a crash course into IHSA and how our wonderful riders got the opportunity to be competing during these final horse shows.
Now a quick intro into what exactly IHSA is and how riders get involved. IHSA is an opportunity for all levels of riders to compete in horse shows throughout their collegiate career. The two main disciplines people compete in are Hunter Seat Equitation and Western Horsemanship. Some schools hold try outs to accept riders onto their teams, other schools do not, it all depends on the college and how they wish to run their team. When a rider is accepted onto an IHSA team they get put into a specific division for them to compete in based on their prior horseback riding and horse showing experience. The IHSA divisions are as follows:
Beginner Western Horsemanship
Intermediate Western Horsemanship
-Intermediate Western Horsemanship I
-Intermediate Western Horsemanship II
Novice Western Horsemanship
Advanced Western Horsemanship
Open Western Horsemanship and Open Reining Pattern
Hunter Seat Levels:
Walk-Trot Hunter Seat Equitation
Walk-Trot-Canter Hunter Seat Equitation
Novice Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat and/or Over Fences
Intermediate Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat and/or Over Fences
Open Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat and/or Over Fences
Now down to the nitty-gritty of how you, as an IHSA rider, are able reach Regionals. Schools are grouped into regions based on their location. Throughout the year schools in specific regions host horse shows in which their facility, horses, and tack are used to host the shows. There are anywhere from 5-10 regular season horse shows throughout the fall and spring semester. When a school hosts a horse show, other collegiate teams come to the host school to compete in an IHSA Horse show. An outside judge is hired to judge the show for that one day. The riders that are showing that day will compete in one class of their division they were placed into. Riders complete the class and are pinned first through sixth and each ribbon has a set amount of points associated with it. The points are as follows:
First- 7 points
Second- 5 points
Third- 4 points
Fourth- 3 points
Fifth- 2 points
Sixth- 1 point
The main focus of horse shows should always be to have fun and ride to the best of your ability. But ribbons and placings do hold a special value in IHSA competitions. The points from your placings at the horse show are logged after each show and added up. Once you have obtained 36 points in the current level you are competing at you “point up” into the next division and boom! You have qualified for Regionals. It is like they say “hard work pays off”.
When a rider competes at Regionals they compete as an individual rider. They must place first or second to move onto Zones (Hunter Seat) or Semi-Finals (Western). Once a hunter seat rider is at zones they must place first or second to move onto the National Horse Show. For western riders they must place first through fourth at Semi-Finals to be eligible to compete at Nationals.
I hope this post has enlightened you into the wonderful world of IHSA and how a rider is able to compete at the end of the year horse shows. IHSA is a good opportunity for everyone to get involved with horseback riding and competitions. All the riders on both teams have worked hard to get them where they are this season. Good luck to all the western team competing this weekend, may the odds be in your favor!