Keep horses in your life and enhance your college years.
The 2019-2020 school year is kicking off soon and it is not too late to start an Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) program at your college or university. The IHSA membership during your college years is a great way to keep horses and riding without the expense of horse ownership. Men and women, hunter seat or Western undergraduate student riders of any level can compete on an IHSA team. There are opportunities for students to learn to ride and compete in the entry levels. Most importantly, being a member of IHSA is a way to connect to others through your love of horses while building friendships that last a lifetime.
“I was still heartbroken from selling my horse when I left for college,” said Melisse Mossy, founder of the University of Southern California (USC) IHSA team. “I sent away for information (before the Internet) and waited anxiously for the packet that would tell me how to start a team to be part of the IHSA.”
The steps to start an IHSA team are to locate your IHSA Zone and contact the zone chair to determine which region you would join. The regional president will be your best resource for learning about the IHSA and how to get a team up and running. Click here to find your zone chair and regional president. Then, contact your college or university and inform them of your intentions. In some instances, you may work through the school’s athletic department, recreation/club sports even equine-related academic department. Find an advisor, a coach and a facility. Then, recruit team members.
Mossy set up a table on the USC mall and recruited members. With her small team formed, she approached the Los Angeles Equestrian Center Riding School to be their team coach. They agreed and offered to discount the lessons. The USC IHSA team Mossy formed was formidable. In their first year, they qualified to participate in Regional Finals and Nationals. Not long after, they went on to host Nationals.
“To me, being a part of USC Equestrian was being a part of something bigger,” Mossy said. “It’s a team at all different levels, all with different gifts – a diversity that makes you strong. It’s about friendships and memories, trying something new and working hard to achieve the results. Founding the USC Equestrian Team changed my life.”
Here’s what some IHSA members and alumni say about their IHSA experience:
“Riding on Clemson's IHSA team was honestly my favorite part about college. I remember being so excited when I made the hunt seat competition team as a freshman. I competed in both Over Fences and Flat, and eventually moved up into the Open Division. My senior year, I also joined the Western team in the Open Reining and Open Horsemanship divisions. Our Western team was amazing and I learned so much from the coach and fellow teammates. Both teams were one big family.” ~ Courtney Schintzius
“It was a unique experience to be on a team and the team format made the walk/trot riders as important as the open riders. It made every rider a key part of the team. So many of my Lake Erie College IHSA teammates are in the horse business and I love keeping track of them. Just this year, I sold horses to two of my former teammates.” ~ Kim Barone
“Upon my acceptance to Mount Holyoke College, I tried out for their Hunt Seat team. I made the cut my first semester, and the team became my family away from home for the next four years. Between weekly meetings, workouts, practices, competitions and caring for the horses, we usually saw each other every day. I never experienced such an exceptional level of support and comradery within a team before going to college.” ~ Emily Holowczak
“IHSA gives you a unique and challenging opportunity to take horses you don’t know and show them to the best of your ability. Every ride teaches you something. I think that is pretty special.” ~ Lily Atkinson
I fully enjoyed my experience of being on a team. I arrived at Goucher and immediately had a group of 20 friends, which helped make the transition to college less daunting. Maryland felt very far away from my home in California, so having a team helped me when feeling homesick. It makes the competitive spirit even greater. You have a desire to win, not only for yourself, but also for your teammates, your coach and your school. It gave me a sense of pride that I had not experienced prior.” ~ Karli Postel
“Citing just one part of my IHSA experience as the most valuable is impossible. Whether it be the long-lasting friendships, the lessons learned from team experiences or the growth of my passion for the sport and the animals, all of my experience were incredibly valuable and formative of the person I am today.” ~ Lindsay Maxwell
Click here for information about how you can start an IHSA Team.
The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) welcomes men and women of all riding levels and offers individual and team competition in hunter seat equitation, Western horsemanship and reining at more than 400 member colleges and universities. Membership in IHSA means that college students can participate in horse shows regardless of their experience or financial status. Students compete at eight levels from beginner through advanced with suitable, provided horses, eliminating the expense of horse ownership.
Founded in 1967 by Bob Cacchione, it is the oldest and largest intercollegiate equestrian organization with 10,000 members in 47 states and Canada. IHSA college and university team participation is represented through a variety of programs including varsity athletics, academic departments and club sports. IHSA offers valuable hands-on experience and professional development in multiple facets of the equine industry. Many IHSA teams participate in service projects, giving back to their communities. Through the IHSA, students enhance their college experience and develop the tools that help build successful careers.