Horse Showing

Showing in College

October 12, 2011

Just because you moved away to college doesn’t mean you have to quit showing.

At IHSA Nationals, you pick your horse via rubber duckies. Journal photo.

By Samantha Eckert for America’s Horse Daily

Moving to college can be a big change for many students.

I was lucky enough to go to a school that allowed me to bring my horse to school with me. But after I sold my faithful gelding, Lopin En Style, I was horseless and starting to get the itch to show again.

Murray State University, thankfully, has an equestrian team that competes through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.

I quickly learned that showing for your school brings a whole new kind of pride, whether it is through IHSA, the National College Athletic Association or the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

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IHSA is made up of co-ed teams whose riders range in levels of riding ability. There are eight levels in English riding, beginner through Medal, and six in western, beginner through open.

The IHSA website states that IHSA competition is “highly praised for its structure of competition.”

“The IHSA allows riders with various degrees of experience in the hunter and western rider disciplines to compete individually or on a team. Competition plays a role, but student enthusiasm and team spirit are the major objectives. Emphasis is on learning, sportsmanship and fun,” the website states.

More than 8,300 students represent 370-plus colleges and universities from the United States and Canada in IHSA shows.

NCAA offers varsity equestrian competition. The NCAA varsity equestrian website states that its mission is to “advocate for equal collegiate opportunities for female athletes, to promote the advancement of Equestrian from emerging to championship status with NCAA, to generate growth of and interest in Equestrian activity via the marketing, promotion and publicity of sport benefits to universities, riders, prospective student-athletes, parents, horse industry professionals and sponsors and to preserve the integrity of the sport through ongoing rule and format development.”

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“In varsity equestrian, teams compete head to head or in a tournament-style format. Each team is required to ride the same horse, and judges’ scores are compared across horses. The host school provides the horses and tack at each competition, so hauling horses is not required. The format includes hunt seat equitation on the flat and over fences, western horsemanship and reining. A university may choose to offer only English or western, based on the student body’s interest.”

And for those who are not into horse showing, there is NIRA. This association is made up of co-ed team members who compete individually and together to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo held each year.

The goals of NIRA are to uphold standards for intercollegiate rodeo competition. It seeks to encourage intercollegiate rodeo on a national scale. NIRA promotes the Western lifestyle and the culture of rodeo.

Contestants can compete in saddle bronc, bareback, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying.

So whether it is your first year in college or your last, get involved with your school and try out for equestrian sports. It is a great way to meet new people, ride new horses and practice your horsemanship skills.