GeneraI Information



The mission of the IHSA is to provide equestrian competition for all college and university students regardless of riding level, gender, race, sexual  orientation or financial status. The IHSA is dedicated to promote sportsmanship, horsemanship and academic excellence.


The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association was established in 1967 by Robert Cacchione while he was an 18-year-old sophomore attending Farleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. Cacchione developed the prototype competition program with the help of his professor and renowned horseman Jack Fritz. 

Bob with mounted team

Launched with just two colleges competing in hunter seat equitation, the IHSA was praised for its innovative competition format and quickly caught on. In 1979 the Western divisions premiered at the IHSA National Championship Horse Show (Nationals). In 1999 IHSA Inc. was established as a nonprofit organization. 

The early shows were judged by great horsemen, like Frank Chapot, George Morris and Michael Page. Originally, Nationals were held at various college facilities.

HIS_Sized_Marty Bob and Anne Cacchione George Morris Col Robert Ballagh Col Paul Wirth 1975 copy
Marty, Bob and Anne Cacchione, George Morris, Dee Jones, Col. Robert Ballagh (ret.) and Col. Paul Wirth

IHSA now encompasses 40 Regions in 8 Zones with over 400 member colleges in 45 states and Canada and represents 10,000 members in hunter seat equitation, Western horsemanship, and reining. To support the size of the organization, IHSA now requires major venues like Harrisburg, the Kentucky Horse Park and Los Angeles Equestrian Center for its National Championships.

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Murray State won the Western Nationals in 1988.

Some of the most notable riders in show jumping and the Western disciplines competed in the IHSA during their college years. Four-time Olympian and two-time Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden competed for Southern Seminary and won the Cacchione Cup in 1984. Olympic gold medalist Peter Wylde won the Cacchione Cup in 1986 while he attended Tufts University. 

Beezie Madden
Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden competed for Southern Seminary and won the Cacchione Cup in 1984


Were it not for the tenacity and passion of Bob Cacchione, the IHSA would not exist. Little did he know he would have such a profound impact on the college experience of hundreds of thousands of college students across North America.

Cacchione founded the IHSA as a way to continue riding and competing during his college years. He traded use of horses at a local stable in exchange for giving riding lessons. He put small ad in the The Chronicle of the Horse about his concept of collegiate horse shows. Six colleges immediately contacted him and the IHSA was born.

Bob mounted

Cacchione worked for Cartier from 1973-1988 and used his network of contacts to help build the IHSA. With Cartier, he hosted lavish parties and rubbed elbows with celebrities. He worked as a ringmaster for top equestrian competitions and cultivated relationships with horsemen like George Morris, Ronnie Mutch and Victor Hugo Vidal. He introduced them to the IHSA and asked them to judge IHSA shows. Morris, an Olympic silver medalist and former chef d’equipe of the U.S. Equestrian show jumping team, is widely considered the godfather of hunter seat equitation, judged the first IHSA show hosted by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (NY). 

west point
U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York

The Cacchione Cup was named in honor of his parents, Marty and Anne and was awarded at Nationals to the high point hunt seat rider. Cacchione has been recognized for his commitment to college riding with the USHJA Presidents Distinguished Service Award, US Equestrian/EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award, a Doctor of Humane Letters from Centenary College and the American Horse Publications Equine Industry Vision Award. He is also Vice Chairman of the Gentlemen’s Committee of the National Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Bob Cacchione and David OConnor
Bob Cacchione and David O'Connor


IHSA welcomes beginners through advanced riders in the hunter and Western disciplines to compete individually or on a team. Men and women compete with and against each other.

IHSA eliminates the expenses of horse ownership and allows more students to compete. Horses are furnished by host colleges and are chosen by drawing lots. The use of personal tack is not allowed and schooling is not permitted. The format fairly tests the horsemanship of the athletes. Divisions range from Walk/Trot to the Open Division for the more experienced riders.

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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 their IHSA 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 of winning the Collegiate Cup in the hunter seat division and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Trophy in the Western division.

Western competition copy

Regional high point riders are eligible for the National Individual Championship. The US Equestrian/Cacchione Cup is awarded to the National Individual hunter seat high-point rider. The AQHA Cup 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. Many IHSA competitors have gone on to play significant roles in the equestrian industry and in business.