California Riding Magazine • March, 2008

Keep Riding in College
Collegiate riding championships come to California May 8-11:
May 10 informational forum slated.

by Ally Gibney

I’m a sophomore member of the equestrian team at Cathedral Catholic High School in Del Mar. I thought I’d have to give up riding after high school, but Noel Dukes, assistant trainer at my show barn, Quail Haven Farm in Bonsall, is a former collegiate rider and she steered me toward the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (ISHA).

I was particularly excited to learn that the organization’s National Championship is coming to California for the first time. It will be held May 8-11 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, and it presents local young riders like me a great opportunity to learn about the program and even to get involved as volunteers at the show.

After talking with my mom, Debi, the IHSA’s executive director Bob Cacchione agreed to host an informational forum on Sat. May 10. I am excited about the forum because riders, parents and trainers will be introduced to IHSA board members, coaches and team riders and we’ll get to have a question and answer session.

With an expected 500 riders competing on 200 loaned horses, the event is a huge undertaking. Support from local trainers and riding families will be critical to making the Championships a success.
The IHSA was founded on the principal that any college student should be able to participate in horse shows regardless of his or her financial status or riding level. The IHSA promotes competition for beginners through the open level, individually and as a team, at regional, zone and national levels.

With almost 400 college and university teams across the country, encompassing both english and western riding, I can get a great education and continue riding. And, my dad was relieved when I told him he didn’t have to send my horse to college with me!

Braidee Foote with Bob Cacchione, the Executive Director of the IHSA.

Why The West Coast?

“Nationals are being held on the West Coast this year as a result of the overall growth of the IHSA and the increased participation and prominence of West Coast riders and teams,” explained Sophie Rowland, IHSA Zone 10 president, when my mom called to inquire. “With almost 500 riders competing on over 200 horses during four days of competition, Nationals requires an extremely large venue in a highly horse-concentrated hunt seat and western area in order for the event to be a success. Zone 8, which includes schools from California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, has a strong core of motivated and well-organized teams and consistently sends top-notch riders to Nationals. Everyone is excited about stepping it up a notch and we’re adding some fresh ideas that will give the show a unique, West Coast flavor.”

From what Sophie has heard, the East Coast coaches and competitors are looking forward to coming to Los Angeles.
When asked to highlight talent from the West Coast, Sophie said, “Zone 8 has 100 more western and hunt seat riders than any other zone which gives them a depth of versatile riders.”

Classes include the open, intermediate and novice levels. Novice includes those with no or limited riding experience and those crossing over from a different discipline, such as eventing or Pony Club.

Stanford University is proud to be sending Sabrina Wilson, 2007 NRHA Rookie of the Year to the 2008 National show. The rest of this year’s National competitors won’t be known until zone and regional finals have been completed.

Past West Coast standouts include Stanford’s Karen Lone, Walk Trot National Champion, USC’s Braidee Foote, third in Open Fences, and Santa Clara University’s Christine Andry, who was third in Intermediate Flat. Karen and Kate were students who came to Stanford with no riding experience and went on to compete on the national level and to exemplify what’s so special about the IHSA.
Standouts in the Western division include Stanford’s Kate Farrell, Walk Jog National Champion, and Oregon State’s Sydney Rogers-Goode, who placed third in the AQHA High Point division.

National Championship Show class highlights are the USEF/Cacchione Rider and the AQHA High Point Rider with one rider representing each region. Cacchione riders qualify by combining their Open Equitation Flat and Over Fences points while AQHA points are combined in the Open Horsemanship and Reining classes. The judges usually call back top riders competing in the USEF/Cacchione Cup for a very exciting work off.

Another stand-out class is the NRHA Reining class for Individual Open Reining qualifiers. The top four riders will compete at the NRHA Derby in the Collegiate Reining Championship. It is a unique opportunity and a huge honor to be selected to participate. I don’t know much about the Western classes so I’m going to make sure I add them to my schedule.

Get Involved

The Zone 8 staff invites riders, parents, and trainers who want an up-close chance to learn more about the IHSA to get involved by donating their time and talents to the National show. I can’t decide what I want to do because there’s so many volunteer jobs and we can even work in the barn aisle with the team members.

Another really cool opportunity is the chance for your horse to be used in the show. They need hunt seat horses to use on the flat and over fences. Flat horses should be able to go in the ring with up to 20 other horses and be solid in their leads and transitions. Upper level horses may need to do individual testing like the counter canter. Over-fences horses are needed for three different levels: 2’6”, 2’9” and 3’3” with flying lead changes preferred. My hunter mare, Café Mocha, is really picky about knowing her rider so I don’t know if they can use her but I’m going to find out!

Cal Poly coach Jen Earles had to help me with the western horse descriptions as I’m an english girl. Western horses are divided into two categories: horsemanship and reining. The Western Horsemanship horses should be going one-handed in the bridle and should be confident doing railwork and individual pattern work as well. Maneuvers like simple lead changes, pivots and figure 8s are tested. Reining horses need to be going one-handed in the bridle and should be able to complete an NRHA reining pattern. All horses must be current on vaccinations and shoeing.

The IHSA has hired Bill March Horse Transport to do the bulk of the hauling for the show. If owners are willing to haul their horses, the cost savings would be very appreciated! Owners can come and care for their horses, however, student volunteers are on hand for basic care.
For more information on the IHSA, Nationals and volunteer opportunities, visit the IHSA website at

I am really excited about taking our team, Noel and my barn buddies to the Nationals show and hope to see all of you at the Forum!