IHSA founder Bob Cacchione to attend BHC IHSA Team competition Nov. 22-23

Bob Cacchione

Photo courtesy of Equestrian Quarterly

Black Hawk College is honored to have the founder of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association attending the Zone 9, Region 2 competition this weekend, Nov. 22-23, at the college’s East Campus near Kewanee.

“This weekend we will be hosting the largest show of the season in our Region,” said coach Donna Irvin, professor of equestrian science at Black Hawk College.

“It is a special honor to have Bob Cacchione as our guest this weekend. It is his first visit to our Region, and we are excited to show him how we do it in the Midwest!” Irvin said.

A record 11 colleges will be represented with 260 entries. Competition begins at noon this Saturday, Nov. 22 and at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 23 in the college arena. Concessions will be available. The public is invited to attend – admission is free for spectators.

“Our students are very excited about getting the chance to meet the man who made this weekend’s events possible,” Irvin said. “Bob is a very personable individual with an upbeat zest for the IHSA.”

A meet-and-greet session is scheduled as well as an opportunity to get pictures taken with Cacchione.

The IHSA has grown and developed since it was established in 1967 through the prototype competition program Cacchione – with the help of his professor, Jack Fritz –  started when he was an 18-year-old sophomore at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.

When Cacchione’s parents told him they would no longer pay for his riding, he negotiated free use of horses at a local stable in exchange for giving riding lessons, soon gathering up what became a team. Holding a show using donated horses grabbed the attention of nearby colleges.

From its beginning with just two intercollegiate competing colleges, the IHSA has grown to an organization that encompasses 37 Regions in eight Zones with almost 400 member colleges in 45 states and Canada – representing more than 9,000 riders in both Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship and Reining.

In a world where show winners are often those who can afford the finest horses, the IHSA levels the playing field.

Highly praised for its structure of competition, the association was founded on the principle that any college student should be able to participate in horse shows, regardless of his or her financial status or degree of experience 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.

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.

Cacchione is quick to point out that the IHSA enables low-level riders to compete in college shows along with some of the top riders of their generation. This not only widens the circle of equestrians, but is a driving factor in the growth of the overall horse industry, as many IHSA alumna have gone on to build companies and careers inspired by their love of horses.

The IHSA also has gained significant media attention. Publications such as Practical Horseman, Horse & Rider, Equus, Dressage Today, Western Horseman, The Quarter Horse Journal, Chronicle of the Horse, The New York Times, Horses International, Horse Play, Horse Illustrated and the USEF magazine Horse Show have written stories about the IHSA and Nationals.

For more information about the IHSA, visit www.ihsainc.com.

Black Hawk College East Campus is located five miles south of Kewanee, Ill., at 26230 Black Hawk Road, Galva, Ill. For more information about programs at the East Campus, call 800-233-5671.