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 renowned location 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: www.rideiea.org and on the US Equestrian Network at www.usef.org. “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.
About the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA):
Now entering its 20th year, the IEA has nearly 14,000 members across the United States riding and coaching 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 www.rideiea.org.
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses. For more information, visit www.apha.com.