The Board of Directors of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) approved a proposal to re-organize the structure of the Western discipline beginning in the 2017-2018 season. Under the current structure, there are ten Western Zones across the United States that includes multiple regions within each Zone. Under the new format there will be one Western Zone splitting into eleven regions that will have more than 160 teams and 2,000 riders. In contrast to the Hunt Seat Zone structure, this unique, non-geographic, discipline-specific zone encompasses all of the United States with an effort to lead to a more successful and equally balanced IEA National Western Finals. The IEA will continue to hold the Western National Finals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in conjunction and affiliation with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA).
During the regular season, there will be no change to the process for qualifying for regional finals and all eleven regions will hold a regionals competition. The change happens in that there will not be Western Zone Finals as in previous years, but instead there will be two Semi-Finals held to determine which riders will move on to the National Finals competition.
"The ongoing, year-long effort by IEA Co-founder and Board Member, Ollie Griffith, along with his Western Committee, has launched a new and exciting endeavor for Western teams," says IEA Executive Director, Roxane Durant. "We hope that this re-structuring will allow riders to experience a more robust regional finals and semi-finals and ultimately help to inspire new Western Teams to form throughout the United States."
In addition to Griffith, the IEA Western Committee members include: Jessica Bein (Zone 8, Arizona); Bobby Dean (Zone 2, Pennsylvania); Roger Elder (Zone 4, Tennessee); Ruth Finley (Zone 3, North Carolina); Lynlee Foster (Zone 5, Kentucky); Holly Hover (Zone 8, Arizona); Kevin Jewell (Zone 4, Georgia); Todd Knerr (Zone 5 Administrator); Katie Morehead (Zone 5, Ohio); Ashley Wilson (Zone 4, Georgia) and IEA staff members Roxane Durant (Executive Director), Jennifer Eaton (Membership Marketing Coordinator) and Myron Leff (Chief Operating Officer).
A Western Zone Administrator will be named in coming weeks. For more details and guidelines on the new Western Zone, please visit www.rideiea.org.
Celebrating its 15th Anniversary year, the IEA has more than 13,500 middle and high school student-riders across the United States. The 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. The IEA is open to public schools, private schools, and barn teams. For more information, please visit www.rideiea.org.