ihsa · throwback thursday

Throwback Thursday: IHSA Showing

I did a year of IHSA showing in college – my senior year. Long story short, I had stopped riding through high school and into college, and started riding again during my year abroad in France. When I returned stateside, I joined the college team and went headlong back into horse obsession.

Coach telling me…something that did not penetrate into my brain. Borrowed coat, non-ASTM helmet, and oh God I still have such clear memories of how tight that stupid ass collar on the borrowed show shirt was. Owwwwwwwww.

I was our stalwart walk-trot rider, because while I had a decent amount of riding experience I had zero polish and more importantly, zero show record. When you sign up for IHSA, there are formulas you can use to place riders in certain categories. Having a rider in each category is how teams gain points to win at shows.

Coach giving me last-minute instructions and adjusting my stirrups, team captain doing…something helpful. Please note my rubber riding boots. I still have those around somewhere.

My college’s team was so tiny we almost never filled our classes, so it was good for us to have a walk-trot rider, and if you’ve learned anything about me through this blog it should be that I have zero ego about these things. I was also not jumping at the time after a very bad fall in France, so being the baby steps flat rider suited me to the ground.

Clearly I screwed up something, and I am trying to explain myself, and Coach is just giving up on me. Pretty standard conversation between us at IHSA shows.

I really loved it, actually. I mean, it sucked in a lot of ways – I am not and never will be a hunter rider, and the whole show scene was not my thing. Because of our location way the hell up in Vermont we had to leave for shows at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. I remember distinctly sitting in the team van at 3:30 am one Sunday, shivering and miserable, and looking out the window to see someone doing the walk of shame back to their dorm room, still drunk. Clearly she had had a better Saturday night than I had, in bed at 8:00 pm to get at least a few hours of sleep.

Seriously you guys I am not a hunter. Even that saintly pony is unimpressed.

I took my riding seriously, and fell in love with dressage while riding for the team, but I did not take showing seriously, to the dismay of Coach. I actually at one point informed her cheerily that I was aiming for fifth place at a particular show, because I hadn’t earned that color ribbon yet. I thought she was actually going to murder me. In public. With witnesses. (That was neither the first nor the last time she felt that way about me, I bet.)

HUNTER HUNTER HUNTER. Jesus that poor pony.

But I loved the people, and I loved being back with the horses. It saved my sanity through my spring finals, and it put me directly on the path toward getting Tristan, and for that I am grateful. The year after I graduated, I worked in the area and served as a sort of assistant coach for the team, by which I do not mean that I had any actual horse expertise, but rather that I traveled a lot with the team and schlepped and generally helped out. I loved that. It was a good way to stay connected and keep learning even after I graduated.

Damn straight that saintly pony put me in second place. I pointed up to WTC at that show, too.

Did you do IHSA? Any seminal memories? Do you think it contributed to your development as a rider, or was mostly just “meh”?

6 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: IHSA Showing

  1. I did IHSA for a year before our team changed to NCAA! I didn't really like it. I felt like the horses were a total crapshoot, I didn't enjoy riding hunters, and I didn't like many of my teammates. It was definitely a valuable experience, though! It was interesting to get to ride so many horses.


  2. I rode in college at Baylor but we were NCAA … I had fun. Rode a ton of greenies which messed with my confidence but overall it was fun!


  3. the IHSA was my first real taste of horse showing and i LOVED that! started wtc and took over a year to point up to whatever the first jumping division was called. then had a seminal moment in my very first jump class where i won 2nd in an uncharacteristically large class. this was immediately followed by my next seminal moment: nobody from my team had bothered to watch my class bc they were all actually really unpleasant ppl… ah memories! i eventually shifted my showing aspirations to the local schooling shows with my non-college affiliated barn, and that was much more rewarding on every level


  4. I did do IHSA! Also loved it. I was bumped down to WTC since I also had basically 0 show experience, and that didn't bother me. I actually stopped showing when I pointed up to Novice, because it got too serious and intimidating then.


  5. I started riding as an adult/after college so I never got a chance to do IHSA though couple weeks ago I randomly ended up sitting next to a girl at the airport terminal who did ride for her school and chatted while waiting for our respective flights. The girl did WTC classes though didn't seem excited- almost jaded- about her involvement which was rather strange for me since why would you do something if you didn't enjoy it?? I'm a complete noob/foreign to IHSA workings so maybe its something like “it takes one to know one” sort of deal.


  6. I had those same rubber boots. I am wearing them at an IHSA show in the 4th picture here: http://diyhorseownership.blogspot.com/p/i-think-i-was-obsessed-with-horses-my.html Do they still make those? I'd kinda like a pair…
    I did IHSA for one year and hated it. I didn't like the way the horses had to move to win. I also hated the politics. I had a horse buck with me. I lost the class. In the next class it bucked again, that trainer pitched a fit, the horse was replaced, everyone swapped horses and they re-did the class. So even the idea that there's some meritocracy in randomly assigned rides isn't true.
    I decided to just do polo and had a lot more fun.


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