The IHSA is an association open to all full time students at colleges with IHSA teams, regardless of past experience or financial status. The idea is that any student who wants to compete in competitive horse showing (in both English and/or western styles) should be given the opportunity to do so. This is achieved by multiple levels of competition (from walk/trot aka Beginner to Open Level Fences and Flat aka Advanced) and even Alumni classes. To eliminate the cost of owning and trailering a horse, riders don't compete on their own horses. Instead the host school will supply them, and riders will literally draw a name out of a hat to decide which horse they will show on. The majority of the time riders have only gotten to see the horse warm up under another rider, and the first time a rider actually sits on the horse is in the show.
The Redhawk's have eight rider's who are competing at this time (compared to the five riders that they had competing last year) along with three other riders who are working to compete. Kellie Constantine and Alex Wolf have both qualified for Regional's in Walk/Trot and Walk/Trot/Canter respectively and will compete against riders from ten other colleges across the Missouri/Illinois region at the end of the season. Of those riders only the top two in each of the classes will move on to Zones where they will compete against riders from four other regions located in our zone. The Redhawks compete in Zone 7 which includes 60 colleges from North & South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Part of Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. From there the top two riders in each class get to move on to Nationals, which is being held at the Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Last year the Redhawk's placed sixth in their region out of nine other teams competing in English riding, and had two riders qualify for Regional's. Angie Stroer placed 4th in her Walk/Trot/Canter class out of eleven riders, and Kristie Miller placed 2nd in her Walk/Trot class sending her to Zones. After winning her Walk/Trot class at Zones Kristie made it to the 2011 IHSA Nationals at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky where she placed 10th out of sixteen other riders from across the country and even a rider from Canada!
The Redhawk's hope to have one more rider qualified for Regional's this year after the Northern Illinois University show this weekend. They will also be hosting their first IHSA show in the Spring on March 10th and 11th. The location is still being decided but it will be announced when it gets a little closer. Anyone who is interested is more than welcome to come out and help support the Redhawk Equestrian Team in their first home competition.
For more information on the team you can find the Redhawks on Facebook under Redhawks Equestrian Team, check out their website at wix.com/redhawkequestrian/team or you can email them at RedhawkRidingTeam@gmail.com with any comments or questions.