In 2011, the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) welcomed the Saddle Seat discipline to their offerings for middle and high school team members. Growing to over 100 members in 2013, the Saddle Seat discipline offers multiple levels from Varsity Open Workout to Beginner Walk/Trot Performance. With teams in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, rider-members have experienced the benefits of participating on a team while competing in an event that historically has not offered such opportunities.
In 2012-2013, the Team Competition was led by two impressive groups: The Honeywood Team, led by Laura Schuda from Charleston, West Virginia, took top honors for both the upper and middle school team competitions by earning the most points overall for the season. The Walnut Way Wylde Wryders led by Marilyn MacFarlane and Suzanne Human from Shelbyville, Kentucky, took second place honors in both the upper and middle school team competitions.
In the Individual Competition for the upper school, riders from all teams really showed their ability to adapt to unfamiliar mounts. McKenzie Ballard and Kelsey Hargadon from Walnut Way led the Varsity Intermediate Division. Mary Virginia Gibbs from Saddle Ridge Farm in Chesapeake, Ohio, and Christina Westfall of the Honeywood Team earned top honors in the Junior Varsity Novice Division. Abigail Griggs of the Walnut Way Team won the Junior Varsity Beginner Division.
The Middle School Individual competition also had an impressive number of young riders. Tahya Schmidt of the Honeywood Team won the Future Intermediate Division. Alexandera Halliburton of Cattail Creek Equestrian in Finchville, Kentucky, and Jasmyn Sallee of Walnut Way, led the Future Novice Division. Jordyn Chavez of the Walnut Way Team won the Future Beginner Division.
The IEA program is available across the United States and currently has nearly 10,000 members in 32 states. Membership is open to teams of riders in grades 6-12, offering members the opportunity to ride with their teammates, rather than against their teammates. In addition to Saddle Seat, the IEA has competitions in Hunt Seat and Western disciplines. Enrollment for the 2013-2014 season is available through Nov. 15.
Founded in 2002, the IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students. 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 view the IEA website at www.rideiea.org.