WEST TERRE HAUTE — St. Mary-of-the-Woods College equestrian team is hosting the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Zone 9, Region I “Kick-Off” competition Saturday and Sunday, and Bob Cacchione, founder and executive director of the IHSA will be in attendance as the college’s special guest.
Western competition will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and English competition will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday. The competitions, which are free and open to the public, will be at the Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies at SMWC, and the community is encouraged to attend.
The Intercollegiate Horse Show Association has grown and developed since it was established in 1967 through the prototype competition program that Cacchione started when he was an 18-year-old sophomore at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. His professor, Jack Fritz, helped him with the project.
The IHSA, which began with just two intercollegiate competing colleges, now encompasses 29 Regions in 9 Zones with more than 300 member colleges in 45 states and Canada. There are more than 6,500 riders in the IHSA who compete in Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship, and Reining.
At the competition, more than 100 riders from Ball State University, Butler University, DePauw University, Earlham College, Indiana University, Indiana University - Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Indiana University — Purdue University at Indianapolis, Parkland College, Purdue University, SMWC, Taylor University, University of Illinois, University of Indianapolis and University of Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s College are expected to compete in the events.
Cindy Durham, SMWC Western Equestrian coach and operations manager of the Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies, said the college is honored that Cacchione will be in attendance at the events.
“It will be a great honor for Bob to come to our college and to meet with all of the riders, not only from our school but from other schools,” Durham said. “He’s very interested in meeting the students and getting involved in the weekend’s activities.”
Highly praised for its structure of competition, the IHSA allows riders with various degrees of experience in the hunter and western rider disciplines to compete individually or on a team. Competition plays a role, but student enthusiasm and team spirit are the major objectives. Emphasis is on learning, sportsmanship and fun.
The Association was founded on the principle that any college student should be able to participate in horse shows, regardless of their financial status or riding level. The IHSA attempts to eliminate the expenses of students owning horses and allows more students to compete. Students ride horses that are furnished by the host college and chosen by drawing lots. The use of personal tack is not allowed and schooling is not permitted. The theory behind this structure is to equalize variables of the competition and test the horsemanship of the contestants. Classes range from walk/trot for first year students to the Open Division for the more experienced riders.
Durham said that Cacchione’s visit will turn the weekend horse shows at SMWC into the perfect opportunity for students to learn more about riding at the collegiate level.
“If high school students are considering riding at the collegiate level, this would be a great time for them to come out to The Woods to see the competition and meet and speak with someone who has dedicated his whole life to promoting collegiate riding,” Durham said.
The Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College offers majors in equine studies, equine training and instruction and equine business management. The college’s equine facilities include indoor and outdoor arenas, a historic 20-stall stable, and a new, modern complex with 31 additional stalls, a laboratory and classroom wing.
The SMWC equestrian team competes throughout the year in both Western and English, traveling to about 20 shows per season. SMWC has often been the site for Regional horse shows, and students are a vital part of the planning and management of these shows.
For more information about the horse show competition or the equestrian teams at SMWC, call Durham at (812) 535-5239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information about the equine majors offered through the Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies at SMWC, contact the Office of Admission by email at email@example.com or by phone at (812) 535-5106 or 1-800-926-SMWC. More information about St. Mary-of-the-Woods College is also available at www.smwc.edu.