In 2017, the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) adopted a new structure for their Western Program. This restructuring included new Regional assignments across the nation as well as a new Western Zone, headed-up by Zone Administrator, Todd Knerr. In addition, the IEA also adopted a new format for post-season competition that included a Semi-Finals format (much like the competition format used by the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association – IHSA) that allowed more Western riders to compete in a finals-like setting. Using a two-judge system, each Semi-Finals included two days of competition and were held on May 25-26 in Harriman, Tennessee and June 2-3 in Findlay, Ohio.
Western riders competed in regular season shows in their respective regions throughout the season with each holding a Regional Finals. The top 3 riders and teams from each Regional Finals then were divided into the two Semi-Finals locations to vie for the chance to compete at IEA Western Finals at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 23-24 during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. Over 250 riders competed in the Semi-Finals with approximately 150 qualifying to go travel to Oklahoma. Senior riders in their final year of IEA were recognized at both Semi-Finals with special celebratory events that included decorating graduation caps, flower presentations, and sweet treats for everyone.
This weekend, riders, coaches, and parents will congregate in Oklahoma City for two days of exciting competition in Western Reining and Western Horsemanship to name the IEA National Champions. Judging the competition is the husband/wife team John and Betsy Tuckey from Liberty, Kentucky. Both Tuckeys are accredited American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), National Snaffle Bit Association and NRHA judges.
Major sponsors of the IEA Western National Finals include: NRHA (Title Sponsor), Bob’s Custom Saddles, NSBA, Rod’s Western Palace, and Cinch Jeans. Other sponsors include: BeneFab by Sore No-More, Barn Manager, BridlePlates, Equine Journal, Equine Office, Hobby Horse, Judy Goldthwait Equine Art & Pet Portraits, The Mindful Equestrian, Montana Silversmith, Southern Equestrian, SmartPak, and United States Pony Club.
IEA Western National Finals will be broadcast on a live feed beginning at 8:00am CST on Saturday, June 23 with links at www.rideiea.org.
“We are thrilled to again partner with NRHA in Oklahoma City”, said IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director, Roxane Durant. “The opportunity for our riders to rub shoulders with the best reining horses and trainers in the nation at the NRHA Derby is both exciting and educational and we look forward to another successful collaboration.”
The Western National Finals schedule can be found at www.rideiea.org.
Left: Lauren Pursley (Sassy Senoritas Equestrian Team – Region 7) competes in the Future Intermediate Reining at IEA Western Semi-Finals A in Harriman, TN.
Right: Senior IEA Members show off their decorated graduation caps during the Parade of Teams at IEA Western Semi-Finals B in Findlay, OH.
Now entering its 17th year, the IEA has nearly 14,000 members across the United States riding and coaching Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage disciplines. The non-profit (501(c)3) IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students and is open to public and private schools and barn teams. There is no need for a rider to own a horse because the IEA supplies a mount and tack to each equestrian for competitions. Its purpose is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, to generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to equestrian competition at the middle and secondary school levels.
For more information, please visit www.rideiea.org