The levels (which a rider is placed into by the Association based on experience) are Walk-Trot, Walk-Trot-Canter, Novice Flat & Fences, Intermediate Flat & Fences, and Open Flat & Fences. Riders in all classes ride horses whose names they have drawn from a hat, and who they have not ridden before.
Riders ribboning in first through sixth place are awarded points; 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1, respectively. Once a rider earns 35 points in a class, cumulative over their collegiate career, they qualify for Regional competition as an individual. Open riders' points do not carry over from year to year, as there is a special class at IHSA Nationals for high-point Open riders from each region. 30 points are required to qualify for Regional competition as an Open rider.
The top three riders in each class at Regionals advance to the Zones competition. From Zones, the top two riders move on to compete in the Nationals competition.
In order to advance a full team to Zones, a team must win high-point team in their Region. Top teams from the Zones competition advance to Nationals.
Through its administrative staff of one executive director and six assistant executive directors, the IHSA regulates interscholastic competition in 13 sports for boys and 13 sports for girls, as well as 7 non-athletic activities. The IHSA also stages state final events in all of these sports and activities except music.
The IHSA is a charter member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, a group of 51 state associations. The IHSA Offices are located in Bloomington, Illinois.