Ready for school? Thinking about joining IHSA? Here’s the low-down.
As back-to-school season kicks into high gear, you may find yourself thinking about joining your college or university's student western IHSA team. Not sure what's involved in joining IHSA? Here are some quick facts and tips to get you rollin'.
What is IHSA?
IHSA, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, was founded in 1967 with the belief that any college, no matter their riding level or financial status, should be able to participate in horse shows. There are now over 9,000 members riding for colleges in 45 states (plus Canada) that compete in Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship and Reining. Riders compete both individually and as a part of their team during each show.
Do I Need My Own Horse?
No matter which discipline you choose to compete in, you cannot supply your own horse or tack. Instead, for each show, the host school supplies the horses and tack that will be used by all competitors. Before each class, horses are assigned to each rider through a draw system.
What do I need to supply?
All western class riders must be properly dressed in clean suitable western attire and may choose to wear a western hat or helmet.
Tips and Tricks
- Fill out your rider application truthfully. You will do better individually (and be more beneficial to your team) if you are riding at the level that is right for you. Your application will place you into the appropriate class based on riding and showing background, and you can move into more difficult classes once you've earned enough points during shows.
- If you choose to show in a western hat, make sure you get a case for it. A lot of the time you won't have much room to store show clothes and belongings, and your hat could easily get dirty or bent if it's not protected.
- Always have a “show emergency kit" with you that contains the following items: bobby pins, hairspray, a stain removing stick, makeup removing wipes, an extra set of earrings, safety pins and hair ties. Avoid those last minute facepalm moments!
- If you are at an away show, don't be shy about talking to the coaches from your host school or the rider who hands you the horse you received in the draw. They are allowed to give you information about the new horse you're about to get acquainted with, which is helpful before you step into the ring. Veteran teammates of yours may also have had experience with the horse, too, and could give you a cheat sheet of what worked (and what didn't).
IHSA Fast Facts
- Riders who are competing in the show are not allowed to school the horses before the show. Even riders who are members of the host school's team cannot not ride that day until their class begins.
- Schools are divided into Zones and Regions based on their location.
- Points earned at a show help riders to move up into more difficult classes as well as to qualify them for Regional Finals.
- Alumni can still compete in Alumni specific classes after graduation. It's a great way to stay in touch with your alma mater!
- IHSA Western Horsemanship & Reining Classes are classified like this:
- Class 11 Beginner Western Horsemanship
- Class 12 Intermediate Western Horsemanship
- Class 12A. Intermediate Western Horsemanship I
- Class 12B. Intermediate Western Horsemanship II
- Class 13 Novice Western Horsemanship
- Class 14 Advanced Western Horsemanship
- Class 15 Open Western Horsemanship
- Class 16 Open Reining Pattern
For more information go to your college or university's team meeting or visit IHSA.