The school year is kicking off and it is not too late to start an Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) program at your college or university. There is a long list of benefits to starting an IHSA program. It provides the opportunity for any college student that is a hunter seat or Western rider to compete on a team. All genders and riding levels can participate. 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 basic steps involved with starting an IHSA team are to locate your IHSA Zone and contact the Zone Chair to determine which Region you would join. The Regional President is the greatest resource for learning about the IHSA and how to get a team up and running. You should contact your college or university and inform them of your intentions. Depending on your college or university, you may work through the school’s athletic department, recreation/club sports or equine-related academic department. Find an adviser, a coach and a facility. Then, recruit team members.
Mossy set up a table at 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.
“We practiced there alongside the USC Polo Team,” she said. “We recruited enough members at every level for both hunter seat and Western. My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, even competed in Walk Trot Western to help us earn the points we needed.”
Mossy said that none of the members owned a horse and she borrowed boots to compete.
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.”
Click here for information about how you can start an IHSA Team.
The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) welcomes all genders at a range of riding levels and offers individual and team competition in hunter seat equitation, Western horsemanship, ranch riding 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 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.
For more information go to: IHSAinc.com
Photos available upon request at: carrie@EQmedia.agency