What is IHSA?
The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1967 to provide college students with the opportunity to compete at horse shows both individually and as a team. today, IHSA encompasses 40 Regions in 8 Zones with over 400 member colleges across 45 states and Canada. There are over 10,000 IHSA members in hunter seat equitation, Western horsemanship, and reining. The Tufts Equestrian team only competes in hunter seat equitation.
What are IHSA shows like?
Our team competes in approximately 7 regular season shows a year followed by post-season competitions. Unlike typical hunt seat shows, IHSA competitions follow a team-based format where members compete in divisions ranging from walk/trot to jumping a course of fences, and the points from every division contribute to the team's overall placing. The points from each division are weighted evenly across the divisions so our more beginner riders are just as important to the team's success as our advanced riders.
Certified members drive vans provided by Tufts Club Sports to each competition and once there, all of the horses and tack are provided by the hosting school. The morning of, we watch every competing horse get warmed up, then riders are assigned a horse at random to ride and no further warmup is permitted. This style of competition can be difficult to get used to, but is extremely rewarding, creates a great team atmosphere, and allows for students to continue riding in college without having to own or lease a horse.
Does everyone on the team compete?
We encourage everyone on the team to compete at shows but understand that it may not be everyone's goal. Not every member can compete at every show because there are only 8 divisions at each show and we have around 15 members on the team. Our goal is to give everyone experience in the show ring!
Where do we practice and how often?
We ride at Autumn Mist Farm outside of Boston, MA with our trainers Alli Mitchell and Katie Bobola. Members take around 6 to 8 lessons a semester, typically riding once a week. Certified members drive the Club Sports vans to lessons so no one is required to drive a personal car. We ride our fantastic lesson horses out at Autumn Mist so there is no need to own your own horse or tack! We get to practice on a variety of horses and often swap during lessons so we are accustomed to riding new horses. Lessons are about an hour long. We have a designated lesson coordinator to help members schedule lessons around their class schedule.
What if I've never ridden hunt seat before?
We encourage riders of all disciplines and abilities to try out for our team! We have very successful members on our team who had only ridden Western or dressage before joining our team. They thought the transition over to hunt seat was pretty natural and found that it broadened their skillset as riders.
How do I try out for the team?
We host tryouts every fall for new members. Before tryouts, we will be at the club fair and will hold a general interest meeting (GIM) to give more information to prospective members and learn a bit more about your riding. We will reach out to those who attended the GIM to see if they want to try out and then will schedule a time to take the prospective members out to the barn for tryouts. Tryouts are an opportunity for us to get to know you and watch you ride! We are looking for how you could fill positions on the team ranging from walk/trot to open fences, so we encourage riders of all levels to try out!
What equipment do I need to ride?
We recommend that members bring their own breeches, boots, gloves, and approved helmet to lessons, but our team has our own equipment that we can lend you until you have your own. As for show clothes, (which we know can be pricy!) we also have a closet of clothes that members can borrow for the competitions so there should be no need to buy show clothes if you don't have any.
How much does it cost to be on the team?
Lessons cost $75 each and students typically buy them in packs of 3 or 6. Competing members must at least take 6 lessons throughout the semester so that comes out to $450 a semester in lessons. There are also yearly dues of $25 to help fund team events. To ensure that joining the team is financially accessible to any student who wants to join, we have a scholarship fund that students can apply for when they join the team to help cover expenses. All competition fees are paid for by our team.