Photo Credit: McKenzie Yates (IEA)
What is the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA)?
Are you a middle or high school aged equestrian? Are you looking forward to riding in college and maybe even getting an equestrian scholarship? Do you want to get a jump on your riding career now to help you prepare for collegiate riding? If so, the IEA may be the place for you!
What is the Interscholastic Equestrian Association?
In short, the IEA is a place where any middle/high school student can enjoy equestrian sport regardless of their riding level and without having to own a horse.
What riding disciplines does the IEA offer?
The IEA offers competition in hunt seat equitation over fences and on the flat, western horsemanship, and reining. Whether you get your kicks from jumping or sliding, the IEA has something for you.
And you said I don’t have to own a horse?
Nope! The horses and tack are provided. IEA members take lessons from IEA member coaches on lesson horses and compete in IEA sanctioned horse shows on mounts provided by the host team, or in some cases by other teams attending the show.
So, how do I know which horse I’ll ride in the competition?
Riders draw the horse they ride at random the morning of the show. The horse show staff works hard to make sure the horses are suitable and level appropriate so that the mount you draw will help you showcase your talents and maybe even get a ribbon.
This all sounds awesome, but I checked and my school doesn’t have a riding team.
No problem, starting a team at your school is easy. There are instructions right on the IEA website: www.rideiea.org. Also, the IEA allows barn teams too, so if your school doesn’t offer equestrian you can join a local barn team. You can find a list of school and barn teams in your area on the IEA website.
But I haven’t been riding long and I’m not really that good. Will I fit in?
Of course! The IEA truly is a place for everyone. At IEA shows you will see once-a-week lesson students, local show riders, and USEF/AQHA circuit show competitors all hanging out together at the in-gate cheering on their teammates.
IEA shows offer classes from beginner walk-trot-canter all the way up to open 2’6” fences and reining, so you’ll be competing against other riders at a similar riding level as you throughout the regular season for a chance to qualify for the post season. You might even make it all the way to the National Finals.
Yep, riders compete in their division at up to five regular season shows and earn points based on the ribbons they receive. Riders who earn 18 points qualify for the regional finals. Riders who place high enough at regionals move on to zone finals, and riders who place high enough at zones qualify for the National Finals.
And there’s a team competition, too. Teams accrue points based on their riders’ placings. Teams who earn 20 team points during regular season competitions qualify for regional finals. Teams who place high enough at regionals move on to zone finals, and teams who place high enough at zones are invited to compete at the National Finals.
Ok I get it now, the IEA offers showing opportunities for middle and high school students.
Yes, but there’s so much more to the IEA than just horse shows!
The IEA is committed to fostering:
- TEAMWORK through its team competition format,
- SPORTSMANSHIP though its regular season sportsmanship award program and nationwide sportsmanship scholarship program,
- HORSEMANSHIP though its written horsemanship test program and its new unmounted horsemanship program offered to riders in grades 4 and 5, as well as current 6th through 12th grade members, and
- EDUCATION through IEA sponsored clinics and partnerships with programs such as EquestrianCoach.com.
This all sounds great. Where can I find out more?
Did I mention the IEA website? www.rideiea.org. Also, I wrote a book that helps explain everything in language even your parents can understand. It’s called: “A Parent’s Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association.” It’s available in paperback and eBook at Amazon.com
Best of luck and happy riding!