Student Equestrians Rode to IEA National Championships

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A total of 166 of the nation’s leading middle school and high school equestrians competed at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 26-28, 2014. The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) student-riders competed in the Western discipline during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. The NRHA and the National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHyA) are alliance partners of the IEA and sponsored the event. The finalists represented 40 teams from seven zones throughout the United States. Individuals and teams participated in multiple competitions during the 2013-2014 regular season shows and zone finals to qualify for the IEA National Finals competition.

Riders competed in reining and horsemanship contests. The IEA format requires that riders compete in unfamiliar tack on unfamiliar mounts; therefore, each rider draws a horse the day of competition and enters the show arena with no opportunity to familiarize themselves with their mount.

In the individual competition Shelby Derr, 18, who rides for the Hancock Horseman team of Findlay, Ohio, was named the IEA Champion Western Rider by accumulating the highest number of points in the Varsity Open Division.

In the fourth annual High School Reining Championship among the top four youth riders of the IEA and the top four NRHyA riders, the winner was Paisley Roberts of Plain City, Ohio, riding for the NRHyA. Roberts is also a current IEA member. Alex Johnston (IEA) of Brentwood, Tennessee, who rides for the Natchez Bend took second place.

In the IEA upper school team competition, KM Equestrian of Findlay, Ohio, earned the Championship title. Autumn Rose Equestrian Team of Plain City, Ohio, was the reserve champion team. In the middle school competition, Autumn Rose Equestrian Team of Plain City, Ohio, received the championship title. Central Carolina Equestrian Team from Pinnacle, North Carolina, finished as the reserve champion.

The IEA holds the trait of good sportsmanship among riders and coaches to the highest regard. For this reason, two awards are given to recognize rider-members displaying exceptional sportsmanship. In conjunction with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), Jessica Brobst of the Stonehaven Equestrian Team from Temperance, Michigan, won the IEA National Sportsmanship Award. Micah King of the Autumn Rose Equestrian Team from Plain City, Ohio, was awarded the NRHA Sportsmanship Award for displaying exceptional sportsmanship during the 2014 Western National Finals.

The IEA High Point Crossover Rider Award was given to Grace Cope from the Last Lap Ranch of Maryville, Tennessee, for being the highest-ranking individual to qualify for both the individual Western and Hunt Seat National Finals in 2014. The Team Spirit Award was given to the Dare Equestrian Team of Hilliard, Ohio, for their great attitude and participation throughout the Finals event.

Each year the IEA recognizes an exceptional horse that participates in the Finals competition. This year, the 2014 Outstanding Western Horse Award sponsored by NRHA was presented to Pica Peppy Doc donated by Torpey Performance Horses from Princeton, Kentucky.

"Our IEA riders were just spectacular in and out of the show arena during the Finals," said Roxane Lawrence, IEA co-founder/executive director. "We are so fortunate to have such talented youngsters in our Association. These kids can really ride. The staff of our alliance partner, the NRHA, was terrific as well. Their assistance and facilities provide an environment that is very special to IEA competitors. Our members, parents and coaches are overwhelmingly pleased with the support of the NRHA management and staff. We are especially grateful to the owners/trainers that supplied the high-quality horses."

Gary Carpenter, NRHA commissioner, stated, "The IEA riders are an impressive group of young people. It's amazing that these 11-19 year olds are so adept at reining. The NRHA High School Reining Championship featuring the NRHyA top four youth riders versus the IEA top four youth riders is among the highlights of Derby week. It has become an event even our adult members look forward to watching. Certainly, our youth groups complement each other and we look forward to enhancing our alliance with the IEA."

Founded in 2002, the IEA has more than 10,000 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. 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.