Hosting an Intercollegiate Horse Show Association club or varsity sport is one way to attract new clients to your farm or boarding facility and generate additional revenue. If you have a college or university close to you, contact them to see if they currently have a team, if their team includes your discipline (English and/or Western), and if the team needs a physical home or a coach.
“First you should see if the college has a team established,” said Crystal Marshall, trainer of Crystal’s Performance Horses and Western Coach for the University at Albany Equestrian Team.
The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) recognizes all teams regardless of their status as a club, club sport or NCAA recognized varsity team. Many colleges offer a riding team even if the school does not have an equestrian program or own horses.
IHSA offers a range of classes at their shows, including walk-trot and walk-trot-canter equitation, novice and intermediate equitation on the flat and jumping, and even an alumni equitation on the flat and over fences.
Western classes including beginner, intermediate, novice and advanced horsemanship. open horsemanship, open reining, alumni horsemanship, and alumni reining.
“The students are in charge of running the riding team, so if you have a college student that already rides with you, you can start there, or contact the sports administration of the college,” she said.
If you are not working with a student, contact the college’s athletic director, head of club sports or a faculty advisor (who would be the official college representative for the team). All teams are required to have an official contact within the college, and this person must work at the school.
Locate your IHSA zone and region at www.ihsainc.com and contact the Regional President. This person will guide you through the process of getting started.
“Because the riding season is during the school season, it is a great way to keep income coming in during the winter,” Marshall said. Students collect the money for lesson packages (10 lessons) and the school pays directly. The schools will also allot money to the club to be put toward lessons/showing.
Barns should check with their insurance companies to confirm that their liability coverage meets the school's standards, Marshall added. Many students are beginner riders, and the barn should be able to provide safe, reliable horses. “Also be sure that the horses are comparable to what the students will ride at the IHSA shows,” she said.