The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) has grown and developed since it was established in 1967 through the prototype competition program Bob Cacchione (with the help of his professor Jack Fritz) started when he was an 18-year-old sophomore at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
Today, from its beginning with just two intercollegiate competing colleges, the IHSA is an organization that encompasses 37 Regions in 8 Zones with almost 400 member colleges in 45 states and Canada – representing more than 9000 riders in both Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship, and Reining. In 1999 the original organization was dissolved and IHSA Inc was incorporated as a non-profit organization.
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 Association was founded on the principle that any college student should be able to participate in horse shows, regardless of their financial status or riding level. The IHSA attempts to eliminate the expenses of students owning horses and allows more students to compete. Students ride horses that are furnished by the host college and chosen by drawing lots. The use of personal tack is not allowed and schooling is not permitted. The theory behind this structure is to equalize variables of the competition and test the horsemanship of the contestants. Classes range from walk/trot for first year students to the Open Division for the more experienced riders.
Full-time undergraduate students of member colleges or alumni who competed in the IHSA as undergraduates are eligible to compete. Riders qualify for the National Championship Horse Show (Nationals) through a point system. During the year, contestants accumulate points at local shows to qualify for the Regional Finals in their respective divisions. The top two riders in each class of the Regional Finals move forward to the Zone Finals. The top two competitors in each class at Zones qualify for Nationals.
Each region’s high point team competes head to head with the other high point teams in its Zone for the right to represent the Zone for National Champion Team honors: winning the “Collegiate Cup” for the Hunter Seat division and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Trophy in the Western division.
The regional high point riders are eligible for the National Individual Championship. The USEF/Cacchione Cup is awarded to the National Individual Hunter Seat High Point Rider. The AQHA High Point Western Rider winner receives a 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.
With broader horizons, the future of the IHSA looks bright. The IHSA has already gained media attention. Publications such as Practical Horseman, Horse & Rider, Equus, Dressage Today, Western Horseman, The Quarter Horse Journal, Chronicle of the Horse, The New York Times, Horses International, Horse Play, Horse Illustrated, and the USEF magazine Horse Show have written stories about the IHSA and the Nationals. IHSA Inc is also on the information superhighway with this web site http://www.ihsainc.com.