Any person looking for a team to ride on will undoubtedly find a match here in Zone 6 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Our zone offers schools at which one can compete in just about any seat there is-and for beginners, it's a great environment to learn while meeting new people with the same interests. Within this zone are three regions of schools that compete throughout Ohio and areas in Kentucky and Michigan. This zone is also the home of the 2002 National Champion Hunt Seat Team, Ohio University, and the Co-National Champion Western Team from Ohio State University. The 2001 Western and Hunt Seat Championships were taken home by The University of Findlay. Within this zone are many teams that have worked extremely hard to be honored at the national level. While many teams are thinking about moving to a varsity status, it is definitely not necessary to "go varsity" to become a champion team. Here is a quick overview of a few schools representing each region in Zone 6 to show what we have to offer.
Lake Erie College (LEC) in Painesville, Ohio, is one of 10 schools competing in Region 1. This year the LEC team has 45 riders, 25 to 35 of them competing. Students at LEC have many opportunities to expand their equestrian knowledge. Not only are hunt seat and Western teams offered, LEC also has an Interscholastic Intercollegiate Dressage Association team and cross country team, each consisting of about 15 members. If they wish, riders at LEC can show outside of IHSA in hunters, jumpers, dressage and combined training. The facility consists of two barns, an indoor ring with viewing area, four outdoor rings and a partial cross country course equipped with two banks.
Miami University of Ohio is a school affected during IHSA realignment this year. Originally competitors in Region 1, this year the team is competing in Region 2. So far, it seems the adjustment has not hindered the team's success; at the end of the fall semester the team was in a comfortable 60-point lead over second-place Midway College of Kentucky. Miami's Western team was third in a tight race for the top spots in Region 2 before the start of the spring semester. Miami's team features about 65 practicing members who ride in three lessons a week for around $1,200 a year. Although Miami's team is considered a club sport and no official tryouts are mandatory, the team does hold tryouts each semester for those who wish to be considered to jump at shows. Around 30 people try out to fill 20 spots in a weekly jump lesson included in their fees. Since there is a limit of 35 entries per show, members must constantly work to earn their right to show.
Only two years ago The University of Findlay's hunt seat and Western teams left Nationals with both titles in their hands. After fall semester and a tight race for the top regional spot, hunt seat coach Lori Cramer is very aware of the current status of her team: "I have a young team, but I feel they are competitive and will make a strong showing in the spring. There are many factors in the intercollegiate game and I am looking forward to a strong, friendly rally to the end. Winning Nationals was a great feeling, but I will be happy if my team continues to work together and work hard. The rest is icing on the cake."
Findlay's team currently consists of a 24-member varsity team as well as a junior varsity team. Members try out at the beginning of the year, and there is a second tryout during spring semester for those who missed their first opportunity. All riders that try out are offered a spot on the junior varsity team, which practices once a month. Members who do not make the varsity team still have many opportunities to advance to varsity status. They are constantly moved up during the year to fill openings. Varsity members supply their own equipment and clothing, while the team pays their travel and show fees.
Zone 6 has something for everybody--eventing, hunt seat, dressage and/or Western. The IHSA is the best program to experience different disciplines. Many riders learn their second discipline while participating with the IHSA in school because it is really the only place you can ride and show affordably in more than one seat.
Julie Caldwell, an alumna of the Ohio State University equestrian team, is a senior at the university majoring in International Studies with a minor in Japanese. She is currently a USRiding.com/IHSA.com Intern.