The University of Rhode Island Equestrian Team is coached by Pamela Steere Maloof. Pam has been coaching the team to successful seasons for the last 6 years. The team’s lessons are held at Faith Hill Farm in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, which is approximately 25 minutes from URI. The URI hosted IHSA home shows are held at Mystic Valley Hunt Club in Gales Ferry, CT, which is approximately 45 minutes away from URI. The University of Rhode Island is part of Zone 1, Region 1 of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and competes in horse shows against the Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Roger Williams University, College of the Holy Cross, Clark University, Rhode Island College, Becker College, and UMASS Dartmouth teams during the regular show season.
IHSA, Inc. was established in April 1999 with the purpose of promoting competition for riders of any skill level regardless of financial status. Students compete individually and as team members at both regional and national levels. All who take part in these IHSA competitions develop equitation ability, team enthusiasm, and sportsmanship. The IHSA competitions are affordable because individual colleges host each event and provide the horses, enabling all riders equal opportunity. Riders are paired up randomly with horses through a drawing. However, this is not the only unique aspect of IHSA competitions. Not only are riders not allowed to use their own horses but also personal tack and schooling/warm ups are not permitted Levels range from beginner walk-trot through advanced open equitation competition. At the more advanced levels, competition includes jumping as well as flat work.
Riders advance through the levels by accumulating points at collegiate horse shows. First place is awarded 7 points, second place 5, third 4 points, fourth 3 points, and so on. Once 35 points have been accumulated, the rider advances to the next level. Once riders qualify at the horse shows, winners compete at the regional finals. The top two winners from that competition go on to the zone finals. The best two individuals from the zone finals progress to the national championships held each year in May.
In addition to qualifying individual riders for nationals, each team strives to be the high-point college representing the region at the National Horse Show. This is accomplished in the same manner as individual competitions. However, the coach of each college designates the “point rider” in each division. At this time, the “point rider” is not only competing for individual points but their points are awarded to the college as well. Like individual competition, the three best teams go on to compete at the zone finals. From there, the top two teams from each zone compete at Nationals. The National Team Champion team is awarded the Cacchione Cup. The IHSA is a recognized member of USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) and the American Quarter Horse Association. Because of this, the IHSA is actively involved with the top professionals in the industry, and all horse shows are judged by USEF/AQHA recognized officials.
URI riders must take at least one lesson during the week prior to a collegiate horse show in order to be eligible to compete. Riders are strongly encouraged to take at least weekly lessons during the year. URI team members also have the opportunity to participate in clinics at Faith Hill Farm with instructors from the United States and Europe such as Eric D. Horgan, Judy Westlake, and Evi Rainsborough.
URI Club Sports subsidizes the team somewhat but each team member pays dues at the beginning of the season, which help support the entries and transportation. Equestrian team members are strongly encouraged to hold fundraising events to offset their personal costs. The show season runs from September through November then February through March with regionals, zones, and nationals in April and May. Team members are responsible for their own show attire. Each rider must have an approved helmet. Each rider is also responsible for paying for his or her lesson on the day of the lesson.
Most shows are on Saturdays during the show season with the rare exception of a Sunday show. The shows are all-day events with the team leaving campus around 5:00 a.m. and returning at 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Once students are finished with their classes, they are encouraged to stay and cheer for their teammates. Many riders bring homework to work on during breaks at the show and/or on the bus.