In 2017, the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) adopted a new structure for their Western Program. This restructuring included new Regional assignments across the nation as well as a new Western Zone, headed-up by Zone Administrator Todd Knerr.
In addition, the IEA also adopted a new format for post-season competition that included a Semifinals format (much like the competition format used by the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association [IHSA]), which allowed more Western riders to compete in a finals-like setting. Using a two-judge system, each Semifinals included two days of competition, held May 25-26 in Harriman, Tennessee, and June 2-3 in Findlay, Ohio.
Prior to the Semifinals, Western riders competed in regular season shows in their respective regions throughout the season, with each region holding a Regional Finals. The top three riders and teams from each Regional Finals were then divided into the two Semifinals locations to vie for the chance to compete at the IEA Western Finals at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 23-24, during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. More than 250 riders competed in the Semifinals, with approximately 150 qualifying to travel to Oklahoma. Senior riders in their final year of IEA were recognized at both Semifinals with special celebratory events that included decorating graduation caps, flower presentations and sweet treats for everyone.
This weekend, riders, coaches and parents will congregate in Oklahoma City for two days of exciting competition in Reining and Western Horsemanship to name the IEA National Champions. Judging the competition is the husband/wife team John and Betsy Tuckey from Liberty, Kentucky. Both Tuckeys are accredited American Quarter Horse Association, National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) and NRHA judges.
Major sponsors of the IEA Western National Finals include: NRHA (title sponsor), Bob’s Custom Saddles, NSBA, Rod’s Western Palace and Cinch Jeans. Other sponsors include: BeneFab by Sore No-More, Barn Manager, BridlePlates, Equine Journal, Equine Office, Hobby Horse, Judy Goldthwait Equine Art & Pet Portraits, The Mindful Equestrian, Montana Silversmith, Southern Equestrian, SmartPak and the United States Pony Club.
The IEA Western National Finals will be broadcasted on a live feed beginning at 8:00 a.m. CST on Saturday, June 23, with links at www.rideiea.org.
“We are thrilled to again partner with NRHA in Oklahoma City,” said IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director Roxane Durant. “The opportunity for our riders to rub shoulders with the best reining horses and trainers in the nation at the NRHA Derby is both exciting and educational, and we look forward to another successful collaboration.”
The Western National Finals schedule can be found at www.rideiea.org.