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  1. #1
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    May. 19, 2012
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    Default IHSA team tryouts

    I'm only seven or eight months early! That's not ridiculous, right? ;]

    In any case, I was wondering what the tryout process is for IHSA teams so I can start getting ready physically and mentally. Any anecdote is welcome!



  2. #2
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    Definitely depends on the team. Unfortunately, my university's IHSA team was pretty weak. The h/j team's coach was a western pleasure rider.
    In order to think outside the box, one must first know what is in the box.



  3. #3
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    May. 17, 2012
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    Most definitely depends on the team- perhaps post what school you will be attending and we might be able to give you a better idea?

    I rode for a state school team- our coach was a glorified backyard paint breeder who landed a contract with the school. Tryouts were us riding in front of her so she could see what our skill level was and then doing the IHSA questionnaire with her to place us in our appropriate class. That was it. And we were varsity too lol. Needless to say I complained to the athletics director multiple times over my 4 years.



  4. #4
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    Jul. 4, 2011
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    Show up with your show record printed out and money in hand! Not even kidding, that's how little interest we have. Surprisingly, our team is competitive in a very competitive region.

    Obviously, not the norm, but that is much it varies across the country.



  5. #5
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    Jul. 10, 2012
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    For us, we filled out a questionnaire at a team meeting for newbies at the beginning of the year. Based on that, and our schedules, the coach had us come out in groups to ride for her. She was sneaky, and put us on horses at the top of our claimed ability level, to see if we could really ride what we said we could ride. That first ride was basically a flat class- WTC, switch directions.
    After we did that, we stated if we were interested in jumping, and she had us come out for another evaluation ride over fences- a few crossrails to warm up and then a course set around 2'6".
    She asked about our show record, but used her judgement where she could. For example, you'll always find riders who can do a 4' course at home on their own well-trained Dobbin, but can't muddle over a crossrail on an unfamiliar pony. Then you'll find the people (like me!) whose parents wouldn't let them show, but had ridden most of their lives. Then there are people who have experience in a discipline that the school can't accommodate (for example, our team only showed hunt seat flat and OF and dressage, but we had experienced saddle seat and reiners).

    So. As far as how to prep, I would say ride as many different horses as you can. Ride in lots of different saddles and bits. There's nothing like learning to ride in a two-rein Pelham as you're headed into the ring to jump a course!


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  6. #6
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    Aug. 21, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toaster View Post
    Our team would put people into groups of 3-5 riders that are about the same level (we usually only have 2-3 spots per level available) and they get on horses they've never ridden. They do basically a flat class, though also including two-point position and sitting trot. If they are AWTC and above we'd have them jump a couple of x-rails and a course. If we are having trouble deciding we have them switch horses and do the same since one of the significant factors in a strong IHSA rider is the ability to ride multiple horses.
    My team was very much like this, we had a large, competetive team and multiple tryout slots. Prior to joining the team, you provided info on your riding background so they have a general idea of your skill level.

    I am glad you asked early, you have left yourself a great amount of time to prepare! I would use this time to try to ride as big a variety of horses (and ponies) as possible! When you compete, you will only have a moment to adjust your stirrups, nothing more, so ride as many as you can and not in your own tack! Practice being handed a horse and going in and w/t/c then trading horses and doing an eq test on another.

    Good luck and enjoy



  7. #7
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    Mine was very much a show up and get to be on the team sort of thing. I wound up making a lot of girls really mad on the team. I rode saddleseat growing up and never had a horse of my own. I rode anything I could growing up. I was on a team with a bunch of princesses who had ridden their very expensive horse and that was about it. Sure, they were great on that one horse, but couldn't cope well with jumping on whatever and putting in a good round.

    My first show I drew the spitfire paint pony everyone was praying they wouldn't get all day. I thought he looked fun! I'd had one hunt seat lesson the previous week and then showed in gear I borrowed from my roommate. I was the only one all day who won on the paint pony. He was far from the 'ideal' hunter (upright, super forward feisty loud colored pony - not big low, slow hunter type), but he was a fun ride and I rode what I drew. Everyone was sputtering and irritated I managed to ride him well (he wasn't a hard ride...just wasn't what they were used to). I cleaned up in the lower divisions (quit early because polo proved to be much more fun!) and didn't make a whole lot of friends. They weren't amused I could ride so well despite not riding hunt seat. Guys...it's a horse. I'm just sitting in a different kind of saddle now...



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by candysgirl View Post
    They weren't amused I could ride so well despite not riding hunt seat. Guys...it's a horse. I'm just sitting in a different kind of saddle now...
    Yeah, I'm willing to bet it was your attitude that they didn't find amusing.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris


    12 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Dec. 16, 2012
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    The best, best, best thing you can do to prepare is to ride as many different horses, in as many different kinds of tack as possible. You never know what you are going to get.

    At our school it was basically a hunter hack class. Walk, trot, canter both directions and jump a couple of low fences. It doesn't take a lot for the coach to see who can ride and who can't.



  10. #10
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    Jan. 22, 2011
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    GA
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    My school has a great IHSA team and tryouts have around 75 people trying out each semester. Make sure you're filling out the lowest level you can compete in on the form to give you the best chance of making the team, and in the time before you get to school, don't compete at a new height that might change your eligibility. And ride as many different horses as you possibly can.

    My team's tryout process is filling out the form a week beforehand to make sure your information is correct and then to decide which division group you will try out with, do a flat class, switch horses, do another flat class, jump another horse over an equitation course at your division height. Callbacks are the next day, where you do the same thing.



  11. #11
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    Oh really? How would you know what my attitude was?



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaturdayNightLive View Post
    Yeah, I'm willing to bet it was your attitude that they didn't find amusing.
    Quote Originally Posted by candysgirl View Post
    Oh really? How would you know what my attitude was?
    I'm guessing she simply read your post.
    Quote Originally Posted by Linny View Post
    Those martingales were so taut, you could play Ode to Joy on them with a comb


    8 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by candysgirl View Post
    Mine was very much a show up and get to be on the team sort of thing. I wound up making a lot of girls really mad on the team. I rode saddleseat growing up and never had a horse of my own. I rode anything I could growing up. I was on a team with a bunch of princesses who had ridden their very expensive horse and that was about it. Sure, they were great on that one horse, but couldn't cope well with jumping on whatever and putting in a good round.

    My first show I drew the spitfire paint pony everyone was praying they wouldn't get all day. I thought he looked fun! I'd had one hunt seat lesson the previous week and then showed in gear I borrowed from my roommate. I was the only one all day who won on the paint pony. He was far from the 'ideal' hunter (upright, super forward feisty loud colored pony - not big low, slow hunter type), but he was a fun ride and I rode what I drew. Everyone was sputtering and irritated I managed to ride him well (he wasn't a hard ride...just wasn't what they were used to). I cleaned up in the lower divisions (quit early because polo proved to be much more fun!) and didn't make a whole lot of friends. They weren't amused I could ride so well despite not riding hunt seat. Guys...it's a horse. I'm just sitting in a different kind of saddle now...
    Quote Originally Posted by candysgirl View Post
    Oh really? How would you know what my attitude was?
    You're joking, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by SillyHorse View Post
    I'm guessing she simply read your post.
    Pretty much, SillyHorse.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    Nov. 25, 2009
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    I showed IHSA hunt seat, on the flat for 3 years. The best things you can do are ride lots of different horses, in lots of different tack. I'm petite, and it was a challenge riding in saddles that were too big for me, but it was just something you had to deal with. The first time I ever rode with double reins was in an IHSA class, so lots of learning on the fly. I absolutely loved being on a team. our coach was very good at keeping things positive and quietly weeding out the bad attitudes. She created a great learning environment and we were competitive. Depending on where you go to school, you may be riding a lot of "not really hunt" horses. Perfectly normal, since these are Eq classes. As long as you aren't rocketing around the arena like a Derby contender or otherwise putting in a colossally bad performance, the judge will take into account what you are on. Our school herd was mostly QH's. While responsive, they did require more leg that a rival school's OTTB's. In some ways it gave us an advantage. The OTTB school had a really hard time riding our QH's. Not enough calf strength. Good luck at tryouts! I hope you make it and have a blast. I still miss getting to ride so many different horses. I'm sure I could use a refresher now.



  15. #15
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    Apr. 2, 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by knh39 View Post
    I rode for a state school team- our coach was a glorified backyard paint breeder who landed a contract with the school. Tryouts were us riding in front of her so she could see what our skill level was and then doing the IHSA questionnaire with her to place us in our appropriate class. That was it. And we were varsity too lol. Needless to say I complained to the athletics director multiple times over my 4 years.
    OP, tryouts vary from school to school but the worst thing you can do is jump to conclusions. My IHSA coach sounds similar to the one described above, although it seems I had very different experience. My coach has been the best one I've ever had. BUT I was used to A show barns and big fancy warmbloods and a trainer who bred paints was not exactly what I was expecting.

    I'm not sure where you are ending up OP, but hopefully you get as good a coach as I did. My trainer could be described as a "backyard paint breeder" but she has taught me more than any trainers I've had...A circuit trainers included. Obviously every school is different and the above poster had a very different experience from me, but IHSA will probably be very far from what you are used to. Some teams don't give you the greatest experience but if you don't go in with an open mind then you're not giving it a shot.
    Currently blogging for Chronicle of the Horse. Articles can be found here: http://www.chronofhorse.com/category...ryan-lefkowitz



  16. #16
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    My team wasn't super competitive but we had limited resources and had trouble getting enough transportation, so my sophomore year we had to start tryouts. Anyone able to get clearance to drive the university vans or who brought a car to school got an automatic in

    Other than that, we went based on roster needs. W/t, Intermediate, and Open riders were in more demand than WTC and Novice but if we had room we'd take them. For tryouts we'd walk people through the placement form, then basically do a flat class on the lesson horses with a horse switch if necessary. Then anyone who said they could jump went over a small course, regardless of what division they qualified for. Everything was observed by the coach and the team captains and they took notes to make the decisions later. And I have to admit, after we had some real rotten apples anyone who was a major PITA (we're talking rude/mean/lying) during tryouts "mysteriously" didn't make the team.

    Best prep for IHSA is to ride as many different horses as possible. Get on the slow ones, the fast ones, the young ones, the grumpy old ones. Work on building a strong leg (our region's draws were more likely to be lazy than speedy) and remember that in the IHSA you don't have time to "fix" your horse.

    FWIW I really enjoyed being on the team and made some good friends that I keep in touch with. I'll wager that any group of 20 girls is going to have *some* drama, but in general I really liked my teammates.
    "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

    Phoenix Animal Rescue



  17. #17
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    Jun. 12, 2008
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    I loved IHSA. Others are correct, the process will vary by school. It's not for everyone but I really enjoyed it.

    Ride as many different types of horses as possible in as many different saddles as possible (and as many different irons as possible - jointed irons, fillis irons, peacock irons all feel different). Get to the point where you can adjust your stirrups from the ground before you even sit in the saddle. Ride without stirrups as much as you can. Check your attitude and be humble. Work on your "poker face" - if something goes wrong keep going and act like it didn't happen. If you don't normally ride in breeches and tall boots start practicing with them on now.

    At tryouts, dress appropriately (it's usually clinic or show attire) but always tuck in your shirt, wear a belt and gloves and put your hair in a hairnet. Never criticize the horse you are asked to ride at tryouts and avoid bragging about your accomplishments too much. Act like you want to be a part of a team. ALWAYS pat your horse, run your stirrups up and thank the horse holder and coach at the end of your ride.


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarnleyGarnet View Post
    Never criticize the horse you are asked to ride at tryouts and avoid bragging about your accomplishments too much. Act like you want to be a part of a team. ALWAYS pat your horse, run your stirrups up and thank the horse holder and coach at the end of your ride.
    Even if the tryout horse acts like a real turd for you, he probably has a devoted following among team members. Or he belongs to the team captain! A valuable IHSA lesson: you rely on the kindness of strangers to lend you their horse. Don't make them regret it!
    "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

    Phoenix Animal Rescue


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  19. #19
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    I agree to get on as many horses as you can and just ride that horse the best you can without fussing. If you're used to riding only very nice and well trained horses it can be tougher to adjust to riding whatever you're put on, so ride the widest variety you can now, and hopefully some of the pigheaded types are available to you, too!

    No stirrup work and two point are always great. And if you have bad habits which are ok on your horse, fix them asap. I can't tell you how many times I saw riders who tended to jump ahead come off when their horses stopped. (Including a video of myself!)


    I read candysgirl's post differently because of my experiences my first year in IHSA. It almost made me quit riding because of a couple horrible snobby girls who were already friends with a lot of the other team members and didn't like me because I was "different." I hadn't shown rated hunter shows but had done breed shows, and it ended up meaning I did very well in AWTC because at least at the time those shows didn't make me have to be at a higher level and we needed riders in AWTC. I didn't gloat, but those specific girls picked me as the girl to pick on since I was the only freshman not from an A show type background. There were definitely times I gloated on the inside over having good shows when they didn't, I'll admit. Funny thing is, the really good riders on the team didn't have that kind of attitude at all, and the following year the snotty girls weren't there anymore and I absolutely loved my teammates.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    I agree to get on as many horses as you can and just ride that horse the best you can without fussing. If you're used to riding only very nice and well trained horses it can be tougher to adjust to riding whatever you're put on, so ride the widest variety you can now, and hopefully some of the pigheaded types are available to you, too!

    No stirrup work and two point are always great. And if you have bad habits which are ok on your horse, fix them asap. I can't tell you how many times I saw riders who tended to jump ahead come off when their horses stopped. (Including a video of myself!)


    I read candysgirl's post differently because of my experiences my first year in IHSA. It almost made me quit riding because of a couple horrible snobby girls who were already friends with a lot of the other team members and didn't like me because I was "different." I hadn't shown rated hunter shows but had done breed shows, and it ended up meaning I did very well in AWTC because at least at the time those shows didn't make me have to be at a higher level and we needed riders in AWTC. I didn't gloat, but those specific girls picked me as the girl to pick on since I was the only freshman not from an A show type background. There were definitely times I gloated on the inside over having good shows when they didn't, I'll admit. Funny thing is, the really good riders on the team didn't have that kind of attitude at all, and the following year the snotty girls weren't there anymore and I absolutely loved my teammates.
    Exactly. I didn't go into anything with an attitude. I thought it would be fun to learn something new. There's really no type of riding I don't enjoy on some level. I was looked down upon because I wore last seasons borrowed clothes. I was looked down on because I grew up riding ASBs. I was looked down on because I had never had my own horse. I grew up as a barn rat. I got to ride a lot of really nice ASBs because I worked hard and could make the horses look good under a kid in the show ring. However, these weren't A rates hunters so it wasn't looked favorably upon. Things got worse when I beat them. I didn't gloat. In fact, I often apologized for winning despite the fact that I had done nothing wrong. I got sick of the attitudes and went and played polo. Much nicer people.



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