By: Brianna Shappell –
On November 1 and 2, Rocky will be hosting a western riding show at the Intermountain Equestrian Center. The Rocky Mountain College equestrian team is part of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), which competes in both the English and Western disciplines within the region and across United States. This year, about 22 members comprise the team. Along with showing team members, an inactive membership allows members to be involved in practices and other team events without showing.
Throughout the year, the team travels to different schools from Montana to Utah demonstrating members’ skills as riders. If riders reach the national stage by placing well in many shows, they may travel to competitions in places such as Texas, Kentucky and Massachusetts. The team is made up of riders ranging from those who are new to the show world to those who have been competing in horse shows all of their life.
IHSA is unique in that it allows riders to be judged solely on the rider’s position and not the horse’s ability. At a show, horses are randomly drawn for each rider and the rider must demonstrate the ability to adapt to each horse while still keeping proper riding position. While the typical show environment tends to be stressful and expensive, IHSA focus on displaying skills while having fun, making new friends, building a team atmosphere, and keeping show cost to a minimum.
Aside from showing, team members currently have three practices a week that work on building strength and show knowledge. Coach Chris Brown has been a Rocky equestrian professor for many years and is active in the show industry; she keeps the team up-to-date and ensures they are in show-ready condition.
The team is also involved in the community and strives to do more every year; so far this year, some members volunteered at the Region 2 American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) horse show in South Dakota, while other members volunteered as servers for a Ronald McDonald House charity event. In previous years, IHSA made stockings to hand out to patients at Billings Clinic and picked up trash along the Rimrocks above Billings.
This year RMC is hosting two IHSA horse shows with the first one November 1 and 2. IHSA members will care for and hold all of the horses that are used within the show, as well as run a concession stand and t-shirt booth. Many of the horses used come directly from the Rocky equestrian program; however, some horses are trailered in temporarily from local owners the team is connected with. IHSA officers encourage fellow students to come out and show support by cheering on Rocky teammates, or even volunteering to help run the show.