IEA/IHSA: A Valuable Addition To Our Sport
Hi and welcome to my newest section, "This and That"! My inspiration for this comes from my desire to explore and discuss various aspects of the equine industry that I may not cover in my typical style, tack, or care sections. This week I wanted to focus on IHSA and IEA and the value they add to our sport.
Growing up I was exceptionally blessed to have parents who fully supported my riding ambitions and provided me with every opportunity they could. While I competed on the hunter/jumper circuit quite a lot, my parents always expressed the importance of being apart of a team. Therefore, I was given the opportunities to compete in both IEA and IHSA.
This marks my senior year of college and my last chance to compete in IHSA, I can honestly say that participating at this level of the sport has made a huge impact on my riding career and friendships. I have improved vastly on my fundamentals, developed my riding style, and have made many lifelong friendships along the way!
One of the best things IEA and IHSA has given me is meaningful long lasting friendships. There is nothing quite like being at a horse show in freezing temps all day to promote team bonding. While I have always been close with fellow barn members, the difference between showing individually and IEA/IHSA is that when you go to a show as a team your scores affect more than just you; even if you are not the point rider on any particular day, a good solid ride can mean blocking points from other teams. You will continually have people cheering you on and offering endless amounts of support. Being apart of an organization such as these is so important in both high school and college, as it provides a vital support system of peers. Regardless if you are having a bad day, a bad ride, or forget a critical show item you are surrounded by people who will always go above and beyond for you day in and day out. This type of support was so critical during my transfer to the University of North Florida, believe it or not I am quite shy when in new situations and having familiar faces around campus who I could grab lunch with helped instrumently with my adjustment period. It is just an added bonus that they are all grounded with the same passion I have.
On top of promoting friendship between teammates, IHSA and IEA provides all of its members opportunities to show at a more affordable cost. This helps attract more people to the sport and retains those who struggle to afford it otherwise. Often those who are in high school and college are hesitant to pick up a new activity but, with IEA and IHSA riders of all levels are desired as team members. Meaning that people who may have little to no experience within this industry can still get to experience this sport we all love so much, increasing its popularity.
Lastly IEA and IHSA allows riders who have vastly different experiences the opportunity to compete on a more level playing field. Let's face it, the horse world is expensive and those who are more comfortable financially have more opportunities to show and ride at levels many only dream of. But, with the institution of IEA/IHSA all riders are required to draw a horse at random and are expected to preform with little to no warmup, making judging more objective and fair as a riders true abilities are tested.
IEA and IHSA have such a vital role in the equine industry and I encourage everyone with the opportunity to participate in it to do so. You won't regret it!