The University of New Hampshire's Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) team has won the team regional championship for the northern New England region for the second consecutive year, amassing more points during the eight-competition season than teams from 11 other schools in the region. The UNH team will be one of four teams to advance to the New England-area championships at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., on Saturday, April 7, 2012.
IHSA is a unique form of equestrian competition in which riders participate as a team and travel to host schools to compete. At an IHSA show, the hosts provide all of the mounts for the competition, and riders draw horses at random. Riders must draw upon their previous riding experience to feel their horse out while in the competition arena, a type of riding called “catch” riding, meaning that riders have just caught a ride on the horse and have had no opportunity to practice with that particular mount in advance.
“Our entire team is responsible for our success this season. Consistent and reliable performances at show after show are what led to our team winning champion or reserve champion team at seven of eight shows this season,” says Christina Keim, UNH IHSA coach and lecturer in the equine program at the university.
In addition to the team's overall success, 10 members of the squad will compete as individuals at the Individual Regional Championships on March 31 at Dartmouth. This number represents nearly half of the team and is an unprecedented total of qualifiers from one school.
UNH competes in Zone 1, Region 2 against teams from the universities of Vermont, Maine, and New England and Endicott, Dartmouth, Colby Sawyer, Bates, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Colby, and Castleton State colleges. Several of these competitors are fully funded varsity teams; the UNH squad, however, receives no funding from the university and members fundraise to cover team expenses.
The first and second placed teams from the championships at Mount Holyoke College will earn a spot in the IHSA national championships in Raleigh, N.C. May 3 – 6, 2012.