What is the IHSA?
The IHSA is the oldest and largest nationally competitive college riding program in the United States. Founded in 1967, the IHSA was the first to make equestrian sports part of the college experience for male and female students in a manner that is fun, affordable, educational and competitive.
Each year over 6,500 IHSA riders of all skill levels compete individually and as teams at regional, zone, and national championship levels. The IHSA offers opportunities for riders who are just beginning in the sport as well as for students with show experience. Eliminating the expense of shipping or even owning horses puts IHSA competitions within reach of many who would otherwise miss the equestrian experience while in college. Numerous Olympic riders, including Greg Best and Beezie Madden are alumni of IHSA.
In What Disciplines Do IHSA Riders Compete?
There are classes designed on specific experience levels, from Beginner Walk-Trot to Open, in four disciplines — hunter equitation, equitation over fences, western horsemanship and reining. College horse shows are like “meets”, with all teams from the region invited to compete against each other simultaneously. The national average region includes about eleven colleges, 225 total riders, and competes in 8.6 horse shows per year. Only about two-thirds of the regions offer competition in western horsemanship. There are now 30 regions and 9 zones, encompassing 48 states, 7000+ riders and over 300 teams!
History of the IHSA
• Began in 1967
• Founded by Bob Cacchione in his sophomore year at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey
• Original team of six riders: Carrie Wisenfeld, Sue Gauten, Carol Fenelli, Chris Fiogie, Barbara Streger, Bob Cacchione
• An all inclusive program open to riders of all skill levels and socio/economic backgrounds.
• Competition for beginning to advanced riders in Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship and Reining. Eight Levels of Hunter Seat Riding – Beginner through Medal Maclay. Six Levels of Western Riding – Beginner through Open/Reining
• Approximately 70.5% of IHSA ride Hunter Seat (5842), 17% ride Western/Reining (1401), and 12.5% (1050) do both.
• IHSA keeps riders competing while in college and introduces new riders to the sport.
• Team and individual competition in all divisions. When Riders compete as part of a team their points earned go towards the team total and overall standing.
• Affordable – Riders do not have to own a horse.
• Host colleges provide horses and tack.
• Horses are chosen by random draw.
• Riders do not have the opportunity to warm up or test a horse over a jump before entering the show ring.
• Riders are judged in accordance to USEF/USHJA/AQHA/NRHA rules.
• Competitions are grouped by Regions with points earned accumulating for teams and individuals to determine year end standing within the region.
• Teams and individuals that win their Regions go on to compete at Zones.
• Winners and Reserve Champions from each Zone advance to the National Championship.
• Team may be student run club teams or part of a college’s athletic program.
• Many colleges with degreed programs in equine-related fields have school supported IHSA teams and offer athletic scholarships for riding.
• The IHSA allows and encourages alumni participation all the way to the national championship.
• Regional individual high point open riders in all disciplines are eligible to compete for national individual championships. The USEF/Cacchione Cup is awarded to the National Individual Open Hunter Seat High Point Rider.
The AQHA Western Open Rider winner receives a Textan saddle and a scholarship. The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) awards a Morrison Bronze trophy to the winner of the Individual Open Reining Horsemanship class winner.
• Winning National Hunter Seat Teams receive Collegiate saddles from Weatherbeeta. National Sponsors include Weatherbeeta, Collegiate, Charles Owen
Overview of Collegiate Riding Organizations
Middle and High School Organizations that Follow the IHSA format
• Rider’s Interscholastic Federation of North America (RIFNA) – competition in Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship, and Dressage
• Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) – competition in Hunter Seat Equitation
• Beezie Patton Madden (1984) and Peter Wyle (1986) both won the Cacchione Cup while in college and went on to win Olympic Gold Medals in Athens, Greece in 2004.
• Greg Best was Reserve Champion Cacchione Cup winner opposite Peter Wyle (1986) and went on to win the Olympic Silver Medal in Show Jumping at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.
• Mark Weissbecker won the Cacchione Cup in 1973. Mark was long-listed for the 1988 Olympic team and is now on the selection committee for the 2008 Olympic Equestrian team.
• Marilyn Payne was a Cacchione Cup rider and is slated to be one of the judges at the 2008 Olympics in China.
The Western Program
• The American Quarter Horse Association has been a sponsor of the IHSA since 1979 and, along with the NRHA, has played a vital role in shaping the Western Horsemanship and Reining divisions of IHSA.
• Quincy Cahill won four individual IHSA National Championships and has since gone on to win the AQHA Congress and World. She is joined by many other outstanding Western riders of the IHSA who have gone on to success in AQHA and NRHA as riders, coaches, trainers or judges.
Specifications for Placement of New Hunter Seat Riders
1. Walk-Trot riders are those who have had no more than 24 weeks of instruction and who have not competed in a mounted competition which required them to canter or lope. Walk-Trot riders have two years of eligibility starting with their initial completion of the online individual membership form.
2. Walk-Trot-Canter riders eligible for class 2A are those who have had more than 24 weeks of instruction and who have not competed in a mounted competition that required them to jump more than eighteen inches. Once the Beginning Walk-Trot-Canter rider has accumulated 18 points, s/he must move to Walk-Trot-Canter Hunter Seat Equitation (2B). Walk Trot Canter riders eligible for class 2B are those who have not competed in any over fences class higher than three foot (3’) in any competition, nor have those 2B riders competed in any recognized competition.
3. Novice riders on the flat are those who have won no more than five Hunter Seat equitation classes on the flat in recognized competitions. Novice riders over fences have won no more than six classes in any over fences class three feet (3’) or higher in recognized competitions. To be eligible for Class 4, Novice Equitation over Fences, riders must have had at least six months continuous professional instruction over fences within the past year.
4. Intermediate riders on the flat are those who have won six to ten Hunter Seat equitation classes on the flat in recognized competitions. Intermediate riders over fences have won no more than six classes in any over fences class three feet, six inches (3’6”) or higher in recognized competitions.
5. Open riders on the flat are those who have won more than ten Hunter Seat equitation classes on the flat in recognized competitions. Open riders over fences are those who have won more than six classes in any over fences class three feet, six inches (3’6”) or higher in recognized competitions.
6. Based on a rider’s credentials they may be initially assigned to the appropriate jumping division that is lower than their flat division or to a flat division that is one level lower than their jumping division. Novice Hunter Seat Equitation over Fences riders may not show below Novice Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat.
Riders who canter/lope in one IHSA discipline may not start in the walk-trot division in the other discipline.
Riders may continue to compete in their divisions until their eligibility is up, even if they have qualified out of the corresponding Hunter Seat or Western division.