IHSA horse shows are hosted by teams (schools) within the zone. There also is regional and national finals to qualify for, similar to the way some national equestrian organizations structure their competitions. However, there are many more differences than similarities. First of all, each team hosting the show also provides the horses to all competitors. The riders then draw a name out of a hat for each class and that is the name of the horse they will ride. No rider is allowed to warm up or practice at all before the class. You’ve heard the saying, “the luck of the draw,” well in the IHSA this is very much truth. For a very difficult, uncooperative or dangerous horse, a rider may be given a re-ride at the judge’s discretion. The levels range from walk-trot up to open division and are based upon the rider’s level of experience prior to arriving at school. A rider who has competed in 3’6” classes would be an open rider, as an example. Some schools also offer multiple disciplines and may have a Western, Hunt Seat, Dressage and even Reining team. Now, onto the really fun stuff like what to wear to your first show. The expectations for the hunt seat shows are going to mirror what you would see at a hunter/jumper show, if you were already familiar with showing. If you are already a seasoned competitor, you may have everything you need already in your closet. However, if you are new to showing or just want to check out some great new clothes, I’ve got a great list for you of high-quality items that won’t break the bank.
- A conservative hunt coat is never out of style. Horse Tack Co. offers several great options, including the washable and stylish J. Classics Ladies Devon Show Coat and the WOW Ladies Level One Soft-shell Hunt Coat.
- A crisp white show shirt with a hint of flair that doesn’t cost a fortune is exactly what you’ll find with the WOW Ladies Long-sleeve Riding Shirt.
- Finish your look off with comfortable and stylish beige breeches like the WOW Ladies Level One Riding Breech.Tie everything together with a conservative belt and gloves, like the WOW Leather Riding Gloves in black.
- Don’t forget your feet! Check out these fun fall Highland Plaid Fashion Socks and pair them with these Tuff Rider Ladies’ Back-zip Field Boots.
- Make sure that you have plenty of hairnets and a conservative helmet that fits properly. There are many choices out there these days.