IEA to Continue Legacy and Mission of Junior Essex Troop of Calvary

The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) is pleased to announce their partnership with The Junior Essex Troop of Cavalry (JET) to continue the Troop’s legacy of fostering the love of horses among youth through education in the art of horsemanship and equine athletics. The partnership will provide a Perpetual Trophy for both the Middle and Upper School Hunt Seat Championship Teams at annual IEA Hunt Seat National Finals.

The trophies will be named in their honor; “The Junior Essex Troop of Cavalry Trophy” known as the “JET Trophy”. They will be presented for the first time at the 2023 IEA Hunt Seat Finals being held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC on April 27-30. Junior Essex Troop of Cavalry has pledged $80,000 that includes the Perpetual Trophies, along with funding support for the IEA through a generous financial gift that will be used to support additional prizes for the National Finals Championship Teams, as well as the IEA Benevolent Fund, educational offerings, and IEA general programming for riders in Grades 4-12 to further our joint mission.

IEA currently has a membership of 14,600 nationwide and offers draw-based competitive programs for riders in grades 4-12, with the goal of promoting lifelong involvement, understanding and appreciation for equestrian sport.

“The Junior Essex Troop Show in West Orange, New Jersey, was the largest all junior show in the United States for a number of years”, says Rodney Seelig, President. “Team competition was a primary and prestigious aspect of the show featuring the Junior Military Divisions and later the Junior Teams Divisions, in a format similar to the way IEA conducts their National Finals.” 

Teams of three would compete at one of the three different levels of skill. During the remainder of the year many of these organizations would participate in “Invitation Meets” where these teams would travel to one of the barns that participated and compete on that barn’s horses, similar to the IEA’s current draw-based format. Alumni and friends continued to run the show after the daily operations of JET ceased. A 35-year labor of love by this group of dedicated individuals carried on JET’s traditions and made possible the sponsorship we are proudly providing IEA.

“IEA is quite like the Troop in its mission,” said Tim Cleary, an officer of The Junior Essex Troop who became its Horsemanship Instructor and is an Associate Professor of equine studies at Centenary University. “The Junior Essex Troop, and riding organizations like it, were the foundations of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) and the IEA. We, as kids, experienced the format they are doing now.”

“It meant so much to all of us,” agreed another JET board member, John Walker, who is pleased that distribution of the organization’s funds was well thought-out. John noted that the first horse show ribbon ever won by his son, Jack, now 27, was at an IEA show. He was inspired to go on with his riding and is training today to be a veterinary technician.

“I am so happy to have the Junior Essex Troop name live on in an organization that is so much like it,” Cleary commented. “The objective is/was to introduce those drawn to horses in a way that is affordable.”

Through the IEA Benevolent Fund, Roxane Durant, IEA’s Executive Director and one of its Founders, notes kids who might not otherwise be able to ride will get the boost they need from IEA. “Those are the kind of kids that will step into this industry because they fought hard to be in it. That’s hugely significant and JET’s funding will be instrumental in continuing accessible programming for young riders.”

The IEA’s unique program of draw-based (catch-ride) competition means that no rider is required to own a horse or tack, making it a more affordable way for riders to participate. “The funding support from Junior Essex Troop will allow the IEA to increase the impact of our grass roots access to equestrian sport”, says Kathy Dando, IEA Resource Development Director. “The IEA provides a safe environment for young athletes to develop unparalleled horsemanship skills, along with added life skills such as confidence, empathy, and resiliency that will support them for a lifetime.” 

Interested in learning more about how you or your organization could help support the IEA? Contact Kathy Dando at

The Junior Essex Troop of Cavalry (JET) was founded in 1931 as a cadet auxiliary with the support and aid of the famous Essex Troop of the 102nd Cavalry, New Jersey National Guard. It was the only junior cavalry squadron sanctioned by the United States Government. In 1943, the Junior Essex Troop was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission to “foster the love of horses among boys” through military training and education in the art of horsemanship. The Troop became co-ed in 1983, developing and educating young men and women through equine activities. The Troop ceased daily operations in 1989.

Now in its 21st year, the IEA has over 14,600 members across the United States participating in Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage disciplines. There is no need for a rider to own a horse because the IEA hosting team supplies a mount and tack to each equestrian for competitions. IEA’s mission is to promote lifelong involvement in equestrian athletics. IEA wishes to introduce students in grades 4-8 (Future) and 9-12 (Upper School) to equestrian sports and to develop understanding and appreciation of equestrian sports through organized competitions and educational opportunities. IEA further wishes to inspire and facilitate adults to continue their journey in equestrian athletics for a lifetime. For more information, visit

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Kimber Whanger
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