Interscholastic Equestrian League
Everything You Wanted to Know About IEL but Were Afraid to Ask
The new IEL season is upon us and we want to wish a warm welcome to all new and returning participants. Whether this is your first IEL show or you are entering your final year of competition, here are some essential tips that will help you maximize enjoyment of your IEL experience and minimize frustration and disappointment. Our goal is to foster a safe, respectful, nurturing and enjoyable environment for everyone involved, but your cooperation is required to do so. We encourage riders, parents and trainers to read these tips so that we can all do our part.
Which division should I be riding in?
That is a discussion between you, your trainer and your parents, and a decision based on your talent, training and capability. Be that as it may, the correct decision is not always made. If you ride in too low a division, you have an unfair advantage and you are not challenged. If you ride in too high a division, you will be scared and put yourself and others at risk. If you, your trainer and/or your parents have any questions about eligibility requirements and/or class specifications, please go to the IEL website and click on the Show Information Link. There you will find details about every class in each division.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to ride at the level at which you are supposed to ride. Remember, IEL shows are real shows, not lessons. Trainers, take note. And keep in mind that while you can switch divisions during a season, your points do not switch with you.
How do I check in and sign up?
This is the part that everyone dreads, but it must be done. If you are not checked in and signed up to ride, you won’t ride. It’s that simple. Someone—whether it is you, your trainer, or a parent — has to go to the office and check you in, get your number and sign you up in a group at some point before your division runs. Do not assume that this will just happen, as if by magic.
When you are practicing the day before the show, you should find out from your trainer approximately when he or she wants you to ride within your division and who will be signing you up.
Signups are in the show office the Saturday before the show. For newbies, here’s the drill: Enter the office and go to the table on the right and announce your name and school. Once all of your invoices are paid, you will be given your rider number, and then it is time to head to the table and find your division, whether freshman, novice, JV, or varsity. Then you will sign up for a group in your respective division. Remember your group number, as you will be called to ride by your group number. The lower-numbered groups go earlier; the higher-numbered groups go later. Whether you are signing up one rider, a few riders or a number of riders, the drill is the same. If you are signing up more than one person, please have all of the necessary information ready so as not to hold up the sign-up process.
Dressage times are assigned, but you will still need to check in and get your number at some point.
What time do I need to be at the horse show
General show schedules are posted on the IEL website under the Show Information link. So that is your primary source of information for show times
It is up to you to know what division you are in, what group you are in and what classes you are in and when you are going to go. Then work backwards and give yourself enough time to get to the show, get something to eat and drink if need be and get you and your horse ready and warmed up. Please remember that this is a one-day show and everyone would like to finish before dark. In order to do that, each person needs to do his or her part. That means being at the gate when you are supposed to be there, or, if you can’t be there, letting the announcer know in advance so he or she can switch your order, if possible. Trainers, please try to organize and coordinate your day so that your kids aren’t late to the ring.
What time does my group go?
The announcers can help you answer that question. But be polite when you ask. The announcers have a lot to do other than tell you what time your group goes. At the very least, wait until they are done announcing before you ask your question.
When do I learn my course?
Before you go into the ring! Do we really need to say this? Yes we do! Because so many riders get to the gate and don’t know their course and their trainers are frantically reading it to them when they should actually be in the ring riding. This wastes precious time. Keep in mind that when your group goes, all of the riders in your group (there are usually five) do the hunter course then move on to the handy hunter course and finally the equitation course before the next group is called. So know your hunter course when you get to the ring and use the time in-between classes to learn your next course. And, of course, you can familiarize yourself with all of your courses before you ever get to the ring.
What about warming up in the rings?
If you are doing the ticketed morning warm up in your respective show ring, please make sure that you show up at the appropriate hour and the appropriate ring. Remember that you are not the only person doing the warm up, so try to be efficient with your practice and get in and get out so others may do the same. Do not touch the jumps! These courses are set for the show. Be respectful of other riders and announce yourself if there is the potential for course collision. When warm up time in your ring is over, it is really over, so please vacate the ring when it is time to move on. If you are warming up in the warm-up area adjacent to your ring before your group goes, there may be a crowd, so keep your eyes and ears open and respect the rules of the road, so to speak. If you don’t know what those rules are, ask your trainer!
How do I put my pedal to the “medal?”
The medal classes—which are held for the Junior Varsity and Varsity divisions only (there is a cumulative point freshman medal final at the last show, but not individual medal classes at each show)—are different. They are not part of the group ride and therefore require a different form of sign up. Please keep track of when your medal class goes and make sure to sign up on the order-of go sheet with your ring announcer and then make sure to show up when you are supposed to go.
Do manners matter?
Of course they do. IEL promotes sportsmanlike behavior. No name-calling, gossiping, taunting, booing, sabotage, willful spooking of horses or anything of that nature. It will not be tolerated. And that goes for friends, family, and trainers too. Let’s all be supportive and compassionate. And if you can help out a fellow rider, do! If someone needs something and you can loan it to him or her, loan it, whether it’s duct tape, a safety pin or a saddle pad. We are all in this together. Don’t forget to be polite to the announcers, your trainers, your grooms and your parents. They deserve your gratitude and respect.
So what are the rules?
We encourage common sense when it comes to you and your horse. No running, no screaming, no music, no riding while listening to music, no crowding the in-gate, no bothering the judges EVER, no driving through crowds of horses, no smoking, no drinking, no doing drugs and no dogs. Needless to say, those rules apply to all friends and family who may be attending the shows. And please remind those friends and family that horses spook easily, so they should make sure to deposit their trash—especially large plastic bags—in the appropriate receptacles; they should give themselves plenty of room when walking behind horses; and they should be respectful of others when cheering, photographing and talking on their cell phones.
It goes without saying, but we will say it anyways: Do not bring a lame or sick horse to the show. It does no one any good. Also, do not put your horse in more classes than it—or you—can handle. You should always put you and your horse’s well-being before points. Always.
What should I wear?
You should dress for IEL as you would for a rated horse show. For hunters and equitation that means tan britches with a belt, a rat catcher, a dark coat and tall boots. If you are doing jumpers, you have more leeway in the shirt department, and if you are doing dressage, it’s white dressage pants and a white dressage shirt with a dark coat. But whatever you are wearing, make sure that you have your school saddle pad and that your helmet is ASTM/SEI approved and that the chinstrap is secured at all times while mounted. Safety is our first priority.
What about eating and drinking? We’ll throw in sleeping for good measure too
Don’t forget to eat something healthy before your ride. This is a sport, and you need to nutritionally fuel your body and mind before you take charge of a large animal. There is a snack bar where you can buy food, and it is quite possible that there will be snacks at your school tent, but if you don’t have time for all that, eat something at home or bring something to the show. Also, if it is hot, stay hydrated. That means water or sports drinks, not soda. And get a good night’s sleep the night before a show. Nothing clouds the mind more than being exhausted, and a cloudy mind makes for sloppy round.
Is this supposed to be fun?
Yes, it is!!!! Sure, you want to win. Who doesn’t? But don’t you want to have fun too? Relax and enjoy the experience. Hang with your teammates, make new friends, cheer everyone on. Have a great day. Be the best rider—and person—that you can be. That’s the IEL spirit.
What about points?
For hunter, handy hunter and equitation classes, ribbons are awarded (up to twelfth) when a division is completed, which means after all the riders have gone and the judges have submitted their scores. If you are still at the show at that point you can pick up your ribbons; if you have left you can arrange for someone else to pick up your ribbons, or you can check the results online and claim your ribbons at the next show. For flat classes, ribbons are awarded at the end of each class while everyone is still in the ring; for jumper and dressage classes, ribbons are awarded after each class is completed and the times or scores have been recorded. Each ribbon has a different number of points, and your points are added up and recorded on the IEL website. There is an ceremony at the end of the season in which awards are given to the school with the most points and individuals with the most points both within divisions and overall.