Tuesday, October 25, 2011

IDA 101

Niamh noted very astutely in my writeup from the IDA show yesterday that I've never really explained what IDA is, exactly. Whoops! Sorry about that! Here's a quick rundown of what the world of intercollegiate dressage is all about:

The Name

IDA stands for the Intercollegiate Dressage Association. It's a coed, national organization open to undergraduate and graduate students at participating colleges and universities in the United States. While significantly smaller than the other main intercollegiate riding association (IHSA, or the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, which does hunt seat equitation), IDA still boasts over 50 teams from different schools across the country.

The Levels

There are four levels of competition offered. From lowest to highest, they are: Intro (can be asked to do Intro tests A and B), Lower Training (Intro C and Training 1), Upper Training (Training 2 and 3), and First (any First level test). Riders are placed into different levels based on their previous showing experience before joining IDA. There is a set form for determining level placement that takes a wide variety of disciplines into account from eventing to pony club to jumpers to dressage. For example, I was placed into First level because I had shown Intermediate level eventing and was a B level pony clubber. Another girl on our team placed into Upper Training because she had shown Training level USDF shows. Intro is for people with no show experience at all.

The Team

A team consists of one rider from each level. A school can field two teams at any given regular season show (though at Stanford we almost never have enough people). Riders who are not on a team are allowed to compete as individuals.

How Shows Work: General Stuff and the Draw

Each geographical area of the US is split into regions. In California we are Region U, which means that Stanford competes against the other California schools with IDA teams. These are currently Cal Poly, UC Davis, and UC Santa Cruz. Each school hosts at least one show a year. The host school will provide the horses and venue (which means that when we go to Cal Poly we all ride Cal Poly's horses; when they come to us, they ride our horses, etc). What horse each rider gets is determined by a random draw system. The horses are sorted into groups of four with one horse per level (so, a group will have a 1st level, UT, LT and Intro horse) and then a team will draw one of these groups. The rider gets an opportunity to watch a parade of all the horses in the competition before she has to get on for her own ride, but it is likely that she will never have ridden the horse before (especially at an away show).

How Shows Work: Warmup and Riding

10 minutes before each rider's ride time, she is given permission to mount her horse and head into the warmup area. During this time a coach can help you and you can do whatever you want (within normal legal USDF rules) to acquaint yourself with your horse and get it as ring-ready as possible. Often I find that the first thing I assess is the general stop and go buttons, then try to figure how tired the horse is (sometimes a horse goes two or three times so by the time you get on it it's pretty cooked), then tailor my warmup from there. Fresh and minimal breaks? Lots of transitions and harder lateral work to try to get some submission installed before show time. Tired and behind the leg? Lots of walk breaks to try to conserve energy with short bursts of trot in between to get a little pop before it's time to go in. Practicing the test movements is the last thing if everything else is cooking along well (though it is good to test the halt etc just to avoid any nasty surprises). After 10 minutes, the steward sends you over and it's show time!

(As you might have deduced, I don't have any pictures of my riding at the last show. Here I am warming up at my first IDA show ever, also at Cal Poly, also on Dancer, but way back in November 2009. How time flies!)

The Scoring: Tests

The tests are scored just like regular dressage tests, though the rider's position mark is changed from a x1 coefficient to a x4 to try to reward good riding over fancy horses (which obviously in this format we don't have much control over). Good IDA judges also tend to reward clean, accurate tests that might be a little plain over flashy ones with bobbles, because again in this format accuracy and smoothness are something a rider can control, and the fanciness of her mount is not.

(Phew!)

The Scoring: Team Competition

Each division is ranked and pinned like at a regular horse show. Then, each team member's place is converted into points and added to the team total. The points go like: 1st place - 7 points; 2nd place - 5 points; 3rd place - 4 points; 4th place - 3 points; 5th place - 2 points; and 6th place - 1 point. At the end of the day, the points from the 3 highest placing riders on each team (meaning that there is one drop score) are added up. This team total determines the team placing for the day. Additionally, the team totals add up cumulatively over the season, and the school with the highest season-end total qualifies to go to Nationals.

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I think that about covers the basics. If you have any other questions, please let me know!

(IDA is fun!!)

8 comments:

TBA said...

Thanks for the overview! I'm the president of the dressage team at my school and we're contemplating making an IDA team for next year. We might end up competing either with California schools or Washington/Canada schools so maybe we'll someday see you in competition! Nice to get firsthand info on how it works :)

Niamh said...

You are too kind for posting this! I was so curious because I follow both you and Suzie and I wanted to know more about the process (realizing of course that it is so entirely different than regular showing) -- my only follow up question (yes, I'm that kid) is...are the horses student owned or owned by the University, or both? And, do you get any insider info from the other team about the mounts or is it all secrets? It must be super fun and rather nauseating to catch ride!

Katherine Erickson said...

ahh yes of course, the horses: most are university owned, but since most schools don't have enough horses to fill an entire show a few are borrowed from students and other private owners. There is a printed program with a description and a few 'tips' about each horse (like: lazy, needs lots of leg; or: sensitive in mouth, be careful with contact), and everyone is really nice about telling you as much as they can about the best way to ride them. Catch riding is hard enough that we try to keep the secrets to a minimum!

Erica said...

Awesome, very comprehensive overview :) The dressage club at Michigan State didn't get rolling until my senior year, so I missed that boat. Played polo instead (goodbye equitation, I hardly knew ye, ha), which was super fun, but I wish I had had the opportunity to show dressage. Oh well, next lifetime, right?

SprinklerBandit said...

Pretty cool. Thanks for the description.

Amy said...

Very cool! Now I know what to expect when I send my kids off to college in, well, like 10 years lol. I have lots more questions...Niamh started it...;). As far as getting/being on the team is it a, whoever wants to be on the team, or you are tested and accepted? Are you scouted and recruted? Are competitions payed for by the school? Are there scholarships for IDA team members? I guess I am wondering if it is treated like other university sports or if is totally different?

Katherine Erickson said...

Ooh, excellent questions, Amy! For tryouts and recruitment, I can only comment on what goes on at my school (Stanford) but it might be different elsewhere. We do hold tryouts at the beginning of the year and make some cuts. Our team is so young (it was founded my sophomore year, so just three years ago) that we originally took pretty much everyone who wanted to join, but now we're a bit more selective (especially since our wonderful coach is also a full-time professional rider with clients and horses of her own, and so only has time to teach us two or three times a week total).

IDA is not associated with the NCAA, and so is not considered a varsity sport at Stanford and so cannot use recruitment/scouting for potential incoming riders. This might be different at other schools with more serious equine programs, and there is also an NCAA-run varsity equestrian program that is hunt seat equitation. Stanford also does not offer scholarships, but that again could be different at other schools.

For dues, we pay pretty small quarterly dues, do work hours, get funding from Club Sports at Stanford, and host an annual fundraiser to pay for the team. Each show costs an additional $30 or so extra per rider (though even that can be covered by the team in cases of extreme financial hardship) and overnight stays, coaching, etc is provided.

In general, IDA at Stanford is designated as a club sport, which means that it doesn't get the status of a varsity sport but is still very well supported and respected by the school.

Amy said...

Great! Thanks for answering, that is very insightful.

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