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Equestrian News

ARCHIVES: The following details submitted by Olivia Morris of the Little Hunter Farm in Illinois (847) 302-1806...

For student equestrians in grades 6-12, the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) was established in the spring of 2002 and held its first annual national finals event the following year in Willoughby, Ohio.

A non-profit organization, the IEA has grown both geometrically and geographically each year. Beginning with just 200 participants, the IEA now has over 8,000 members in 32 states across North America.

The IEA supports three disciplines: Hunt Seat, Western and Saddle Seat. There is no need for any rider to own a horse because competition horses are provided at each venue to the contestant.

The MISSION of the IEA is to introduce students in private and public middle and secondary schools to equestrian sports and to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction.

The IEA PURPOSE is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to equestrian sport at the middle and secondary school levels (primarily ages 11 through 19).

To fulfill its purpose, the IEA offers guidance regarding the creation and development of school and/or barn associated equestrian programs. IEA coaches aim to develop understanding and appreciation of equestrian sports through organized student competitions and additional equine educational opportunities.

Students have the opportunity to earn scholarships toward their college education through awards in competition and through sportsmanship activities.

In 2011, the IEA established the Benevolent Fund to assist riders and coaches in need through programs such as the IEA Financial Assistance Program and the IEA Coaches Assistance Grant.

IEA Competition Format: The unique aspect of the competitions, both at the local and national level, is that none of the riders will supply their own horses or tack. Instead, the host team arranges for the horses and equipment. Since the horse is new to the rider, the scores are based upon horsemanship and equitation. All disciplines offer a variety of ability levels from beginner through advanced. The IEA has set guidelines for the placement of new riders entering the IEA to allow for the unique program format of riding an unfamiliar horse.

The IEA is an affiliate of the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) and the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA).

IEA Goals:
•To encourage recognition for middle and secondary school equestrians and to promote the equestrian as an athlete.
•To provide riders with organized competitive opportunities.
•To introduce new riders to equine sports.
•To promote the IEA among its constituencies.
•To provide riders with opportunities to further their education in equine sports and equine-related matters.
•To encourage liaison with other equestrian associations for the betterment of equestrian sports.
•To encourage a higher standard of coaching and instruction.
•To provide information concerning the creation and development of mounted and non-mounted equestrian programs.
•To establish and enforce IEA rules, standards and policies.
•To keep pace with the continuing progress of equestrian sports and to encourage good horsemanship.
•To generally promote the common interests of riding instruction and competition, and education on matters related to all segments of the horse industry.
•To develop team and individual sportsmanship.
•To establish a foundation to support the continuing mission of the IEA.

Our farm is joining the Interscholastic Equestrian Association. We have formed a high school team (grades 9-12) for the 2014-2015 school year; and are in the process of putting together a middle school team (grades 6-8). In order to participate, riders must be taking lessons from farm (team) of which they are a part. Additional information can be found at their sight:

• A key points to note, is that kids do not need to own a horse in order to compete. They simply need to be training with a barn that is a member of the association and has enough riders to form a team.

• Understanding the cost of riding as a whole, I am offering various discounts to my students who are on the team. In general, the cost of showing through the IEA is significantly less than doing it independently, at a recognized level. This has been a big selling point to some of my riders who don’t show much, primarily because of the cost.

• I am currently working on a new web site. I had technical issues putting up an original sight last year. It should be up and running by next week. This will give general information about the farm and myself, and of course contact information and location.

Here is some background information:
My farm (Little Hunter Farm) is an equestrian facility, located in Mundelein, Illinois. I teach hunter-jumper riding and travel to horse shows with my students so that they can compete. Recently, I was approached by one of my students and asked to start a “horse club” that she could offer to her classmates. I agreed, but then made another suggestion to her that we try to form a team in which to compete in the interscholastic equestrian association (IEA). She liked the idea, and we have since been able to form a high school team.

Although this will be the first year that I join the association, I feel that it offers a nice opportunity for kids who ride to compete. This association allows kids to represent a team, and work together- rather than only being out there for themselves- which is how most of horse showing takes place. I have presented this idea to a couple of schools, however, I would like to get information out to the homeschooling community, as well. Your sight seems like it would provide a good venue for that.

The reality is, that In order to create and maintain middle school and high school teams, I need to make people aware of this organization, and the fact that they can train through me to participate. Throughout the United States, there are 10 zones in which competition takes place. In addition, competitions take place for hunt seat, western, and saddle seat riding. I am located in zone 5 (I only offer hunt seat). Zone 5 consists of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. I am looking to promote my farm as a team to join, in order to participate in the IEA. Certainly, as you put the information out there, students in other areas would be afforded the opportunity to form their own teams, as well. Currently, there are only a couple of teams in Illinois. This means that traveling is involved for my farm, at this time.