IEA Ends 20th Anniversary Season With Record-Number National Finals

The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) completed their 20th Anniversary season on April 28 – May 1, 2022 with a combined 4-day National Finals competition at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Over 750 of the nation’s leading middle school and high school equestrian athletes (in grades 4-12) representing 242 different teams from across the United States gathered to compete as individuals and teams for top honors in Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage classes, championship titles and collegiate scholarships. IEA had a total of 1,458 teams this season with 84 teams qualifying for the National Finals team competitions.  This was the largest National Finals event IEA has produced in their 20-year history.

Similar to the collegiate riding format, IEA utilizes a unique draw-based competition format whereby riders compete on unfamiliar horses in the following classes:  Hunt Seat Equitation over fences and on the flat, Western Horsemanship, Reining, and Ranch Riding, Dressage Test and Dressage Seat Equitation. IEA riders must develop their catch-riding skills as very little to no warm-up practice is allowed before each class. All tack and horses for National Finals were provided by IEA member teams and outside horse providers – allowing for a more level playing field of competition.

Many hands make light work and indeed many hands were needed on-deck for a competition of this size and scope.  A complete list of officials and show staff for the IEA 20th Anniversary National Finals can be found here.

DAY 1 – THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2022

Thursday’s competition began with Hunt Seat Upper School team competition in the expansive and historical New Holland Arena (Ring #1).  18 Hunt Seat High School teams were represented with top honors going to Sharkey Farms (Zone 9 – Snoqualmie, Washington) coached by Kate Sharkey and Tiffany Woods.  Reserve Upper School Champion Team went to Empire State Equestrian Team (Zone 2 – Lagrangeville, New York) coached by Clare Knapp.  The remaining top 8 Hunt Seat Upper School teams were as follows:

  • 3rd Place       Belmont Training (Zone 10) – Cassie Belmont
  • 4th Place       Empress Equestrian Team (Zone 5) – Jamie Mills
  • 5th Place       St. Timothy’s School (Zone 3) – Brianna Belter/Matt Payne
  • 6th Place       Evermore Farm (Zone 4) – Emmeline Guerard/Eleanor Ellis
  • 7th Place       Scots Ridge (Zone 4) – Christen Khym
  • 8th Place       Dana Hall School (Zone 1) – Dani Corkill/Lia Chafee/Carly Carbacho/ Sarah Summers

About 50 yards away from the New Holland Arena, IEA Dressage and Western Middle School teams were equally competitive in the Equine Arena (Ring #2) as 12 teams from each discipline vied for their own championship titles.  Each morning Ring #2 began with Dressage competition in the morning followed by Western classes in the afternoon.  Top Dressage Middle School Team honors went to Laurel Manor Equestrian (Region 7 – Centerton, Arkansas) coached by Laura McKenzie Duncan.  Reserve Middle School Champion Team went to RCR Farms (Region 8 – Gilbert, Arizona) coached by Renae Coates and Jennifer Brinkman-Ayers.  The remaining top 8 Dressage Middle School teams were as follows:

  • 3rd Place       Duzan Equestrian Team (Region D5B) – Molly Wirtz/Samantha Keeran
  • 4th Place       Essex Equestrian Center (Region D11E) – Jennifer Griggs/Tim Lauzarder
  • 5th Place       Grier School (Region D11W) – Chrystal Wood/Frannie King/Chris McElyea
  • 6th Place       Cedar Lodge Equestrian (Region D5A) – Amy Edwards
  • 7th Place       Skye Valley Training (Region D10) – Jami Martin/Ainsley Faraday
  • 8th Place       Green Acres Equestrians (Region D1) – Dawn Dascomb

Top Western Middle School Team honors went to Grier School (Region W11 – Birmingham, PA) coached by Chris McElyea.  Reserve Middle School Champion Team went to Western NY Equestrian (Region 2 – Gowanda, NY) coached by Heather Payne.  The remaining top 8 Western Middle School teams were as follows:

  • 3rd Place       Designed by Faith (Region W5N) – Danielle McDermott
  • 4th Place       Autumn Rose Equestrian (Region W5S) – Debbie Griffith/Ashley Griffith/Abbie Noble
  • 5th Place       KM Equestrian Black (Region W5N) – Katie Morehead/Cindy Morehead/Leah Ely
  • 6th Place       Rocky Mountain Wranglers (Region W8) – Mark Guynn/Jimmy Daurio
  • 7th Place       Halvorson Ranch (Region W7) – Rebecca Halvorson
  • 8th Place       Big Red Elite (Region W6) – Kelsey Ebke

In addition to Thursday’s team competitions, IEA hosted a “Sugar Rush Party” in the afternoon complete with a donut-bar.  This event was sponsored by Equine Mastery Education System (EMES) with CEO/Founder, Raegan Comeaux speaking to members on the importance of Equine Education and best practices.

DAY 2 – FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2022

Friday’s competition kicked-off the USHJA (United States Hunter Jumper Association) sponsored individual classes for Upper School Hunt Seat riders (Ring #1) as well as Middle School Dressage and Western Riders (Ring #2).  Individual class winners are some of the most coveted titles as these classes represent the top riders in the nation who have bested their fellow competitors through regular season, regional and zone competitions to qualify for National Finals.

Each individual class of 18 Upper School Hunt Seat riders and 12 Middle School Dressage/Western riders were crowned numerous sponsored awards throughout the day including Hunt Seat trophies from USHJA, Reining trophies from NRHA (National Reining Horse Association), Western Horsemanship trophies from NSBA (National Snaffle Bit Association) and Western buckles sponsored by Rod’s Western Palace.  In addition to beautiful ribbons, awards, prizes and gift certificates, multiple cash scholarships from IEA were awarded to the highest placing and second highest placing seniors in each individual class throughout the weekend.  More than $25,000 in IEA Founders Senior Scholarships were distributed.  Additional scholarships from the University of Findlay, St. Andrews University, and Long Island University were also awarded to top placing juniors and seniors.

The end of the day highlight on Friday culminated in a festive and energetic Team Parade which included all participating teams, individuals, coaches, and the occasional canine who marched in Zone order and were individually recognized.  Teams dressed up in a variety of fun costumes and team-wear to show off their team spirit. IEA Executive Director, Roxane Durant led the parade announcements and traditional “get-to-know-you” games as well as announcing the location for the 2023 IEA National Finals.  Hunt Seat and Dressage will combine to compete in Tryon, North Carolina in late April 2023 and Western will return to Fort Worth, Texas to compete during the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) World Show in June/July.

On a more serious note, Durant turned the attention to the 2021 Timothy J. Boone Lifetime Achievement award winner, Nancy Kohler-Cunningham who passed away last month after a two-year battle with cancer. Nancy was a long-time IEA steward, Board Member, Board President and friend of IEA.  A moment of silence was held in her honor.  Durant then continued by presenting the 2022 Timothy J. Boone Lifetime Achievement award to current IEA Board President and IEA Coach, Katie Schaaf. Following that presentation, IEA Zone Captain Simon Towns, presented Durant with a special gift commemorating her successful vision and the past 20 years of IEA.

Following the parade, members packed into the Northeast Hall Vendor area for Member Appreciation Night – a celebration of food, live music, give-aways, shopping, and photo opportunities.  Member Appreciation Night was sponsored by the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA).

 DAY 3 – SATURDAY, APRIL 30, 2022

Saturday’s competition was jam-packed with USHJA sponsored individual classes for Hunt Seat Middle School, Dressage and NRHA and NSBA sponsored classes for Western Upper School including IEA’s marquee Hunt Seat class – the Varsity Open Championship (VOC).  Numerous prizes and cash awards are presented during this class.  The 2022 VOC class was sponsored by Otterbein University.

The Varsity Open Championship class is made up of the top Upper School rider from each of the 11 Zones.  In addition, the winner of the Varsity Open Equitation Individual over fences and the Varsity Open Equitation on the flat Individual classes are included as wild card slots. Winning this prestigious class was sophomore Alina Sweeney from Patuxent Run Stables (Zone 3 – Prince Frederick, Maryland) coached by Savannah English.  Reserve VOC honors went to senior Kennedy Dewan from Foxtail Farm (Zone 3 – Virginia Beach, Virginia) coached by Dana Kiser and Sugi Dewan.

In the Dressage/Western arena, individual Upper School Leading Rider titles went to junior Sammy Jetton from RCR Farms (Region 8 – Gilbert, Arizona) who was crowned Dressage Leading Rider.  Sammy is coached by Renae Coates and Jennifer Brinkman-Ayers.

Junior Payton Porterfield from Aspire Equestrian Team (Region 8 – Franktown, Colorado) was awarded the Myron Leff Western Leading Rider Award. Payton is coached by Bridget Rohde.

Two lucky Western riders won saddle certificates to Bob’s Custom Saddles – Danica Silleman (TMC – Region W2) and Abigail Tibbits (Aspire Equestrian – Region W8).  These two awards were drawn from the winners of both middle school and upper school individual classes. The third saddle certificate was awarded to Payton Porterfield as winner of the Western Leading Rider award.

Saturday’s competition ended with fun and games and an ice-cream social organized and run by the IEA Youth Board.  Riders gathered in Ring #1 to let off some energy with water balloons, bouncy balls, roping, boot scramble, and other party games.  This event was sponsored by Grier School.

In addition to running the IEA Youth Board Game Night & Ice Cream Social, Youth Board members were busy all week organizing and presenting awards, manning educational booths, and serving as tireless volunteers and social leaders.  The IEA Youth Board is made up of 16 peer-elected representatives from each of the IEA Zones.

DAY 4 – SUNDAY, MAY 1, 2022

Closing Day of National Finals saw the remaining team competitions – Hunt Seat Middle School, Dressage Upper School and Western Middle School.  Despite previous long-days and numerous activities – energy was still very high as team riders volleyed for points for their teams and competition was fierce.

Top Hunt Seat Middle School Team honors went to Sporthorse Intl (Zone 4 – Boyton Beach, Florida) coached by Kristin Schuttemeyer.  Reserve Middle School Champion Team went to Cranberry Acres (Zone 1 – Marshfield, Massachusetts) coached by Kate Paul.  The top remaining 8 Hunt Seat Middle School teams were as follows:

  • 3rd Place       Empress Equestrian (Zone 5) – Jamie Mills
  • 4th Place       Empower Equestrian Team (Zone 8) – Leslie Wenstrom/Megan Downey
  • 5th Place       Bay Ridge Stables (Zone 11) – Kelly Knight
  • 6th Place       TerryAllen Farms (Zone 1) – Samantha Borkoski
  • 7th Place       Candy Lane Acres (Zone 11) – Chelsie Stair/Hayley Stair
  • 8th Place       Foxtail Farm (Zone 3) – Dana Kiser/Sugi Dewan

Top Dressage Upper School Team honors went to Grier School (Region D11W – Birmingham, Pennsylvania) coached by Chrystal Wood, Frannie King, Chris McElyea and Kristen Gretok.  Reserve Upper School Champion Team went to RGB (Region D2 – New Berlin, New York) coached by Ronald Bartholomew and Alissa Donnell.

The top remaining 8 Dressage Upper School teams were as follows:

  • 3rd Place       Duzan Equestrian Team (Region D5B) – Molly Wirtz/Samantha Keeran
  • 4th Place       RCR Farms (Region D8) – Renae Coates/Jennifer Brinkman-Ayers
  • 5th Place       Laurel Manor Equestrian – Emerald (Region D7) – Laura McKenzie Duncan
  • 6th Place       Hidden Creek Equestrian (Region D11A) – Jill Kuc/Rebecca Kuc
  • 7th Place       Green Acres Equestrian (Region D1) – Dawn Dascomb
  • 8th Place       Cedar Lodge Equestrian Team (Region D5A) – Amy Edwards

Top Western Upper School Team honors went to Flamekissed Equestrian Team (Region W4) coached by Amanda Pope and Ruth Sorrel.  Reserve Upper School Champion Team went to KM Equestrian Purple (Region W5N) coached by Katie Morehead, Cindy Morehead and Leah Ely.  The top remaining 8 Western Upper School teams were as follows:

  • 3rd Place       King Show Horses (Region W4) – Jennifer Kinga
  • 4th Place       Halvorson Ranch (Region W7) – Rebecca Halvorson
  • 5th Place       Saddlebrook Equestrian (Region W11) – Andrew Wolf/Ashley Wolf
  • 6th Place       Nothin But Chrome (Region W5N) – Hope Schoendorf/Katie Rose/Gretchen Deeds and Nickole Chaffin
  • 7th Place       Dare Equestrian Team (Region W5S) – Linda Dare
  • 8th Place       Western NY Equestrian Team (Region W2) – Heather Payne

In addition to riding competitions, IEA also held an online Horsemanship Knowledge Test for all IEA riders and Junior Contributing Members.  This program is sponsored by United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (USPC).  More than 400 members took the 25-question timed quiz.  The top eight middle and upper school placings for each discipline were announced and can be found at

IEA National Finals was photographed by Winslow Photography.  More than 100,000 photos can be found at:

The entire event was live steamed by ClipMyHorse.TV with financial support from United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).  Video archives from IEA National Finals can be found at:

A full list of archived results will be available at

Questions about IEA National Finals can be directed to Media Contact – Kimber Whanger ( or the IEA Membership Office (

About the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA):
Now in its 20th year, the IEA has over 14,200 members across the United States participating in 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 (grades 4-12) 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, and to generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Kimber Whanger, IEA Director of Marketing & Communications  |  614.542.9415  |