Seen here at the Western Michigan show earlier this month are, from left to right Saghi Mostaghim, Emma Soever (who is team Vice President of Competitions), Erin Bell, Bethany Cowbrough, Holly Hayman (Vice President of Events), Kimberly Wallace (Team President), Shelby Geiger, Andrea Millman and Timothy Galang of the University of Western Ontario. When Open Fences kicks off at Con Brio Farm in Arva, Ontario this Saturday at 9:30AM (where Western Ontario is hosting) it will mark only the second time in IHSA history that a show has taken place in Canada (Photo courtesy Emma Soever/University of Western Ontario Equestrian Team).


Some may not know this, but three IHSA regions currently include schools from Canada, and at one time a fourth region did as well. Zone 2, Region 2 includes Ottawa University, Brock University and Ottawa University. Zone 8, Region 4 includes the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, Douglas College and, starting this season, Vancouver Island University. And Zone 6, Region 4 includes the University of Western Ontario, a school which will make history this October 31st for hosting only the second IHSA show ever in Canada.

Since the IHSA was formed in 1967 only once to date was a show hosted north of the US border. This show took place in the early 1990's and was hosted by several Zone 2, Region 2 schools. Sadly this particular show ran very long, and became even more of a nightmare for many of the US teams who found themselves stranded in western New York state due to a blizzard. The subject of a Region 2 show taking place again in Canada went on the back burner for several years (in part because all the Canadian schools including Humber College left the IHSA at some point).

The weather may not be as much of a factor in Arva, Ontario, through it will rain the day before. The entire state of Michigan (please have your passports ready at the border) will travel to the newly-constructed Con Brio Farm in Arva, Ontario for a halloween show. We asked Emma Soever of the Western Ontario team if there were any difficulties planning the show since it would be outside the US.

"I don't think we had to plan much farther ahead than any other schools in planning our show," said Soever, who is also Vice President of Competitions for the Western Ontario team. "This is our first year in the IHSA and we committed to hosting a show last spring once we heard we had been accepted into the region. We went to go watch Regional and Zone finals last year in order to learn about how the shows work, so we were prepared to host one this year. As soon as we came back to school in September we got underway with planning for our show."

"Although this will be the first IHSA show we host, we have some experience hosting similar shows. We have successfully hosted the Ontario University Equestrian Association (OUEA) finals horse show for the past two years. The OUEA is a new and growing organization, with ten member universities. It is modeled after the IHSA."

We had difficulty blowing the picture up without blurring it, but in this photo is the University of British Columbia team at a 2008-09 Zone 8, Region 4 show. UBC will host back-to-backs on November 7th and 8th as the Zone 8, Region 4 season opens north of the border (Photo courtesy Holly Walker/University of British Columbia Equestrian Team).

"Our team is different from most schools in our Region in that we don't have a coach who accompanies us to competitions. Many of our riders have their own horses and coaches. Those who do not take lessons with one of two trainers in the area who we are affiliated with. These coaches are not involved with our competitive team or with planning our show. They have, however, generously donated horses for our show."

The second IHSA show ever to be held in Canada almost took place earlier this year. In the fall of 2008 it was announced that the Canadian schools in Zone 8, Region 4 were planning to host a spring show. However Equisure, which insures all IHSA shows in the US, was unable to insure that particular show at the time.

"The possibility of (the) U(niversity of) B(ritish) C(olumbia) hosting a show has been in discussion for a couple years now, but costly insurance quotes have previously held back the team from organizing a show," says University of British Columbia Coach and Equestrian Club President Holly Walker. "Last February, Kasmira Cockerill, at the time the UBC Equestrian Club President and IHSA Coach (and now the UBC Equestrian Club Treasurer) and myself began looking into what it would take to put this on. Insurance was obviously our first concern. Equisure will not cover IHSA shows in Canada so we did our research and have gone through Capri Insurance and Horse Council BC to insure the show and the individual competitors. It is a little more of a complicated process as its not as simple as just buying independent insurance for the event. We also need all riders at our show to join the Province Equine governing agency, Horse Council BC to ensure they are independently insured in Canada. Complicated or not, it just amounts to a few extra waivers and more coordination and creativity with finances on our end, a small price to pay for the first IHSA BC Horse Show!"

On November 7th the University of British Columbia will host the Zone 8, Region 4 season opener at Southlands Riding Club in Vancouver. The next day they will host another show, becoming the first Canadian school to host back-to-backs.

"We were the first Canadian Team to compete in our region and are proud to be the first to host an IHSA show," adds Walker. "As well as our IHSA Team we have an IDA Team going into their third year of showing. We really value the accomplishments we have made so far, as it takes extreme dedication from our members because UBC only recognizes our riders as Club Members not as Athletes. We do not receive any funding from the UBC Athletic Department therefore we are completely funded by our own initiatives. A great group of people and committed members have allowed for our team to grow in such a short time."

"The local horse industry has been very supportive of our upcoming horse show which we are extremely grateful for. We have booked the indoor arena at a beautiful riding facility (Southlands Riding Club) that is only minutes from UBC and an icon in the Vancouver horse community. Our two judges, Tamara Hall and Phyllis Attrill have also been very helpful and accommodating and really represent the great talent of riders and judges we have in Canada. Thunderbird Show Park, The Dog & Pony Shop, Greenhawk and Miss Filly have donated beautiful items for both our horse owners and competitors. Our Regional President, Carrie Kolstad, has been very encouraging and supportive throughout the entire process and has worked tirelessly to create a network between the Canadian and US teams."

Though they have never hosted an IHSA show, Ottawa University has scored the most points overall of the Canadian schools at IHSA shows since the start of the decade. The GiGi's scored 23 points when this photo was taken at the October 25th Rochester Institute of Technology show. From left to right are Jordan Fulcher, Emily Marcogliese (who was a winner in advanced walk-trot-canter), Christina Stringer, first year Head Coach Lauren Hunkin and Jordan Grendal. Ottawa is one of three Canadian schools competiting in Zone 2, Region 2 and historically make it to the most Region 2 shows each season.

While insurance was an issue for UBC last season, there does not seem to be an insurance problem in Western Ontario. "As far as insurance goes I believe everything is okay," says Soever. "Our Regional President submitted the insurance application about a week ago and we have not heard of any issues."

Soever also points out that though this is their first year showing IHSA the club itself has been active since 2005. "This is our club's fourth year and we have grown considerably over that time. Our club consists of just over 100 members, 27 of whom are members of our competitive team."

The University of British Columbia team has been around about as long, and Walker notes that the percentage of Canadian schools in Zone 8, Region 4 have made it imperative that some shows are hosted north of the boarder.

"Four Canadian Schools now make up one third of the teams that compete in our Region. Every year the number of Canadian teams increases and we feel that the future of our Region will rely on the hosting of shows in Canada. With the show dates quickly approaching Kasmira and I could not be more happy about how our show is shaping up and we are excited that it will be the first representative Canadian show in our region. Hopefully not the last!"

With both Zone 6, Region 4 and Zone 8, Region 4 picking up the ball and running with it across the boarder one wonders when Zone 2, Region 2 will find another of their shows taking place outside the USA?

--Steve Maxwell


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