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Sara Lieser
May. 7, 2010, 09:08 PM
Interested in intercollegiate competition? The Chronicle has sent two staffers to report on all the news from the IHSA National Championships this year. Check out Coree and Sarah's coverage on http://www.chronofhorse.com/2010IHSAChampionships. We've got stories, photos and video highlights of some of the best college riders in the country.

double0pony
May. 11, 2010, 07:34 PM
Can someone explain how a flat class at the IHSA National Finals with 20 riders in it can take less than 10 minutes to judge? At the end of three long days, the Open Flat riders took longer to get on their horses and in the ring than it did to judge the class. Had the judges already decided, since they had seen the winners in previous classes? Were the winning riders on horses from their own schools?

If they are the best collegiate riders in the country, they should be able to ride any horse in the draw - ask the riders to show some integrity and draw another horse if the playing field is as level as the IHSA advertises itself, if it's really true.

I'm certain the top performances of those riders would make any judge's job easier, but can you at least give the rest of the kids in the class time to enjoy a few more minutes in the ring? They work pretty hard for at least one entire year to get there, some of them probably will never get a chance to ride in that arena again. Were all riders evaluated equally?

It's tough to explain to riders and their parents how their class could be judged that quickly - were the rest of the riders in the class so bad? Were the judges late for their plane at 2 in the afternoon? The same thing happened to the Walk-Trot riders in an earlier class, a ten minute class for 20 riders at the finals.

If certain classes are scheduled to take less than 10 minutes to run in it's entirety at the National Finals, perhaps that information could be posted somewhere on the IHSA website. That might save a lot of frustration and expense for riders and their families before they ever plan to compete, for those wanting to have the culminating collegiate experience of their lives. Let them know what the real story is.

Each Western class takes more than one hour, between the rail work and each rider having at least an opportunity to ride through a pattern. The awards program and 'parade' took more than two hours to complete. if the Nationals are really a competition with a level playing field, shouldn't all the riders in every class have a fair shot to demonstrate their skills?

supershorty628
May. 12, 2010, 08:22 AM
I think you are making it a little more dramatic than need be.

I was there at nationals, although I left prior to the open flat, and can say that I thought the flat classes were pinned as they should be. There were very few flats where I disagreed with the pinnings. And you know, the hunt seat horses, especially by Saturday, were exhausted. If the judges could pin the class that quickly (and looking at the results, I am not at all surprised by them, the top 10 are all beautiful riders), more power to them. Everyone did have a fair shot - it's not like the top 10 got more time in the ring. The thing with nationals is that you had to be on your best game right away and for the entirety of your class, regardless of whether it took 5 minutes or half an hour.

It might be more fun for the riders to be in there for a long time, but you can't just have a competitor's mindset; you need to be a horseman and look at what is best for the horses. And for horses who have been in the ring 10 times each day for the last 4 days, with some classes that did take ages, a brief flat is the very least that can be done for them.

DuffyAgain
May. 12, 2010, 09:46 AM
First, let me say thank you to COTH for sending Coree & Sarah to Nationals. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet them! (Thank you also to the reporters from other publications, as well as TV!)

It was an incredible week overall, with yes, a few issues, not unlike any other event of this magnitude.

The Kentucky Horse Park is an incredible venue! The IHSA was welcomed so warmly by all of the staff of The Park, as well as the USHJA and the USEF.

The USHJA provided all riders with very nice backpacks with useful items inside. They also had a welcoming party for the riders, coaches and volunteers on Thursday evening, along with some great raffle prizes! They had put some IHSA pictures, plaques, ribbons, past programs, etc. on display in their building.

The IHSA Volunteers, including the Board of Directors, are just an amazing group! The hours, effort and expertise that not only goes into running the Nationals, but the day to day operation of such an organization, are impressive, to say the least.

As far as addressing some of doubleOpony's concerns, the Nationals' schedule is reviewed and discussed every year, with tweaking going on each year. The parade and awards ceremony was shorter than in some previous years. They combined the team parade WITH the horse parade for one example. I'm sure it will be further tweaked in future years.

As far as riders riding their own school's horses, I think that was addressed very well in the article. One rider's parent, who had traveled from the west coast to compete in one class (happened to be a Western one), was asking me about that. I explained the logistics of the committee trying to get the very best horses possible TO Nationals and then going further and evaluating them in the days prior to the show, to make sure everyone had as best an opportunity to have a good ride as possible. To that end, yes, some of the riders will draw the horses from their school, both on Hunt Seat and Western sides. This does not necessarily mean an advantage at all. I usually ride my best when I don't have those pre-conceived notions about a particular horse when I've ridden it a few times.

Also, school horses are not usually the "same" horse when ridden away from home, especially in the kind of venue as Nationals. It would not be practical to re-draw when a rider gets a horse from their school. Depending on where that rider was in the order of draw, they might have to re-draw an entire class. Some schools just flat out had the best horses for a particular class and the show wanted to use those horses to give ALL riders the best chance of doing well.

As far as those final Hunt Seat flat classes, I do wish the judges had done some additional testing. I felt badly that the riders didn't have more time to show their stuff and I know that concern will be addressed. That said, these judges are professional and well respected, so I have to believe they'd seen what they'd needed to see in order to pin them they way they thought they should be pinned. I just wish the riders in those classes had been given more opportunity to show.

DuffyAgain
May. 12, 2010, 09:47 AM
Good points, supershorty.

Fiction
May. 12, 2010, 11:50 AM
Can someone explain how a flat class at the IHSA National Finals with 20 riders in it can take less than 10 minutes to judge? At the end of three long days, the Open Flat riders took longer to get on their horses and in the ring than it did to judge the class. Had the judges already decided, since they had seen the winners in previous classes? Were the winning riders on horses from their own schools?

If they are the best collegiate riders in the country, they should be able to ride any horse in the draw - ask the riders to show some integrity and draw another horse if the playing field is as level as the IHSA advertises itself, if it's really true.

I'm certain the top performances of those riders would make any judge's job easier, but can you at least give the rest of the kids in the class time to enjoy a few more minutes in the ring? They work pretty hard for at least one entire year to get there, some of them probably will never get a chance to ride in that arena again. Were all riders evaluated equally?

It's tough to explain to riders and their parents how their class could be judged that quickly - were the rest of the riders in the class so bad? Were the judges late for their plane at 2 in the afternoon? The same thing happened to the Walk-Trot riders in an earlier class, a ten minute class for 20 riders at the finals.

If certain classes are scheduled to take less than 10 minutes to run in it's entirety at the National Finals, perhaps that information could be posted somewhere on the IHSA website. That might save a lot of frustration and expense for riders and their families before they ever plan to compete, for those wanting to have the culminating collegiate experience of their lives. Let them know what the real story is.

Each Western class takes more than one hour, between the rail work and each rider having at least an opportunity to ride through a pattern. The awards program and 'parade' took more than two hours to complete. if the Nationals are really a competition with a level playing field, shouldn't all the riders in every class have a fair shot to demonstrate their skills?

Seriously? Sounds like someone's a little bitter.

Maybe the class was quick because it was the end of a LONG week and the judges were able to understand that the horses were exhausted. And maybe I'm reading into it wrong, but are you saying you think that the winners only placed that high because of the horses they drew? Funny, because all of those girls placed consistently well throughout the week in other classes as well, on other horses.
But, hey, maybe you're right. Shame on Don and Susie for looking out for the horse's well-being. They should really make it all about the rider and have the tired horses spend the extra 10 minutes trotting around the ring so they can triple check their placings and make sure no one slipped through the cracks.


On a side note, thank you to the Chronicle staff for going and doing such an excellent job reporting. You guys were great!

KKennedy919
May. 12, 2010, 01:49 PM
I was at Nationals this year and, as much as I would love to think the shortened classes on Saturday afternoon were due to the judges giving the tired horses a break at the end of the week, it's sadly not the story that was running around the show. I've heard two conflicting stories, so I don't want to confirm either or being true, but they both pretty much point to the idea that the judge(s) needed to get the classes over with quickly (one being that one judge needed to catch a flight home and the other being their contract stated they did not need to judge after 2pm..again not sure if either is true).

I didn't see the open class because I was getting ready for alumni, but I'd imagine it should have been a pretty competitive class to judge in such a short time period. But you could surely make the argument that the judges had been watching these open kids all week and knew their winners. But that argument is a bit weaker on the alumni side. It wasn't even announced that the alumni class was being judged..the announcer went from a random promo about the vendors directly into announcing for the class to canter. The whole thing was just odd, and everybody was talking about it in the line-up. Even coaches who didn't have students in these two classes were venting away in the holding area. Not a great feeling to spend that money only to be rushed around the ring. Just my opinion - but kudos to all the horses, doners, sponsors, volunteers, and the Chronicle..you guys were wonderful :)

Haalter
May. 12, 2010, 05:52 PM
I will preface this by saying I wasn't there and don't have a dog in this fight, but...

It doesn't seem odd to me that a flat class was "only" 10 minutes long. Kids who work all year to qualify for the Medal or Maclay finals travel from all over the country and get about 3 minutes in the ring if they don't make the cut for further testing, which probably eventually totals about 10 minutes for the ribbon winners. I would assume that athletes who are competing and their parents would understand the nature of horse shows - a lot of prep and a lot of money goes into just a few minutes in the ring at a finals competition whether it's IHSA, USEF, or even FEI levels.

CityLights09
May. 12, 2010, 06:16 PM
I personally don't think you can compare the Medal/Maclay finals, where each rider starts by doing an individual course - not thrown in a ring with 20 people.

I was there all week and agree with the concerns about the two flat classes Saturday - it was very noticeable they were run much quicker than the flat classes on the previous days. And the judges did run out as soon as it was over, in fact they left before the Alumni was even pinned (announced). I do not believe their haste had anything to do with concern over the horses.

Those two classes deserved to be tested just as much as any other (the judges made walk-trot-canter riders do additional work without stirrups earlier in the week!) With a class of over 20 people I don't believe the judges gave a good faith effort in judging the class and providing a fair opportunity for everyone. Also... Open Riders should have to ride without stirrups at Nationals, period. :)

Like others said, it was a beautiful nationals, and I was impressed by a lot of the riders/horses, the volunteers, and thanks to the Chronicle for providing excellent coverage!

ApplesToApples
May. 13, 2010, 03:19 PM
Yes! Huge thanks to the COTH staff for the wonderful videos! I forwarded the link to my own IHSA Team, none of whom went to Nationals this year and I'm sure they all found it equally interesting. : )

On a side note- wasn't the ring large enough for the riders on the flat to find a place on the rail?! In a few of the video clips the riders looked like they were on top of each other! Maybe it was just more efficient to show the most riders possible in one clip to keep the length of the videos down..

LAPomeroy
May. 26, 2010, 03:16 PM
I just wanted to respond to the aside topic about the media coverage at the IHSA Nationals in Lexington. Thank you, of course first and foremost to our friends and supporters at Chronicle, incl the superb dedication of Coree and Sarah.
But credit must go where credit is due, and the video highlights everyone was able to enjoy nightly were thanks to Jennifer and Action Video, official videographers of the Nationals. She made it possible for us to have nightly highlights available here, at USEF, and on YouTube.
I had some people tell me they had never seen so many media attending/covering the Nationals. That included
Equestrian Life TV
Campus Equestrian
Equestrisol
Chronicle
USEF Equestrian and Club Equestrian online
AQHA QH Journal
APHA Paint Horse Journal
USHJA In Stride
as well as those media outlets that could not attend but expressed interest in news and photos to run after the event
Equine Journal
The Horse
Equisearch.com
Horses Magazine
HorseBack Magazine Online
Horsemens Yankee Pedlar
Midsouth Horse Review
Plaid Horse
Todays Equestrian
Southwest Horse Trader
and Sidelines

Daily online updates also sent the IHSA FB membership and visits soaring, and there was a distinct boost in Twitter followers too. To join the excitement, join the official Intercollegiate Horse Show Association FB page (that's the one with 2400+ members), or follow on Twitter, @IHSAinc.
Everyone worked hard to make this year's championships a truly remarkable experience, and they deserve all the coverage possible to celebrate a year's dedication to hard work and great horsemanship. See you in Lexington in 2011!! And there's always room for more sponsors, hint hint, LOL !!!