First Time Ever! IEA 2021 Western Finals Moves to Fort Worth as part of APHA World Championship Show

For the first time ever, The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) 2020–2021 Western National Finals, presented by the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), will take place during the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas. The APHA World Show will take place June 25–July 11, 2021. The IEA Western Finals will take place in multiple arenas on June 30th and July 1st at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.

APHA Executive Director Billy Smith offered the platform to allow youth riders of the IEA to showcase their talents along with APHA youth equestrians in separate, but complimentary, competitions during one of the nation’s largest youth equestrian events.

“The future of equestrian sport is dependent on attracting young people to participate. We show a variety of competition disciplines during our World Championship Show, but there is nothing better than kids watching other kids having fun to show our sport. We look forward to hosting the IEA during our event,” Smith said. APHA is a Member Partner of the IEA.

Despite the complications of the COVID-19 Pandemic, IEA Western riders in grades 4–12 competed in more than 80 Western Horsemanship and Reining competitions across the country between August 2020 and May 2021. The IEA hosted more than 900 total shows between their three disciplines (Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage). These 11–19-year-old student athletes competed locally to gain enough points to qualify for regional competitions. Nearly 200 top placers will move on to the Western Finals this season as individual and team qualifiers.

The IEA uses a draw-based format for competition, whereby riders randomly are assigned the horse(s) on which they will compete just minutes before entering the show arena (with no little to no warm-up). Horses are generously provided by local professional barns, IEA teams, and university programs. More than $8,000 in scholarship awards will be presented at this National Finals to qualifying seniors.

Judges for the IEA Western Finals are Daren Wright (APHA, AQHA, NSBA) from Chillicothe, Ohio and Debra Jones-Wright (AQHA, NRHA, NSBA) from Abbeville, South Carolina. Show Stewards are Dan Bergstresser and Jill Bergstresser, from Oswego, New York.

“We are really looking forward to being a part of the APHA World Show. It will be a great environment for our young western equestrians to compete at such a renownedlocation among so many other youth riders,” stated IEA Co-founder/Executive Director Roxane Durant. “This is a great example of support for the mission of the IEA—introducing youth to equestrian sport and the fun had by the riders.”

Complete live streaming of the IEA Western National Finals will be available online and offered at no cost to viewers through the IEA website: and on the US Equestrian Network at “Because only a fraction of the IEA’s riders qualify for the National Finals, it is important to provide real-time and archived viewing to the other riders, families, friends and supporters,” said Myron Leff, IEA Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. “We are pleased that equestrian videographers, Equine Promotion, will once again provide the video so our diverse audience can enjoy the Western Finals competition.” Larry Williams Photography will provide professional photography services for the event.

For a complete listing of information and schedule for the 2021 IEA Western National Finals, visit: