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In 2021, the IEA Western National Finals will be held at the APHA World Show. • Photo by Waltenberry.

IEA Western National Finals Moves to APHA World Show

The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Western National Finals will move next year to the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas. 

The event, which in previous years had taken place at the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby show, will now be held for a two-day period some time during the APHA World Show’s run from June 25 to July 11, 2021. Western Nationals includes both horsemanship events and reining.

APHA Executive Director Billy Smith said in a statement it a good idea to have the youth riders of the IEA to show their talents along with the APHA youth equestrians in separate, but complimentary, competitions during one of the world’s largest youth equestrian events. 

In 2020, the APHA World Show was scheduled to host an invitational for the another youth riding organization, the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.

“The future of equestrian sport is dependent on attracting young people to participate. We show the 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,” Smith said. “We look forward to welcoming the IEA to Fort Worth next year.”

NRHA Commissioner Gary Carpenter said the organization endorsed the move to the APHA World Show. The NRHA will remain a member partner of the IEA.

“While we enjoyed hosting the IEA Western Finals for many years and will miss them at the Derby, combining youth riders from multiple organizations is a fun way to demonstrate the vitality of our sport.” said Carpenter, who is a former member of the IEA Board.

Carpenter also confirmed the NRHA will remain the major sponsor of the IEA Western Finals. NRHA is a Member Partner of the IEA.

Western National Finals Qualifying

IEA Western riders in grades 4-12 will compete in Western Horsemanship and Reining competitions across the Country between August 2020 and May 2021. The 11-19-year-olds will compete locally to qualify for Regionals. Approximately 160 top placers will then move on to the IEA Western National Finals. 

The IEA uses a draw-based format for competition, whereby riders randomly select the horse(s) they will compete on just minutes before entering the show arena (with 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 IEA Western National Finals to qualifying seniors. 

 “We are so pleased that two of our major Western Member Partners collaborated and developed such an exciting opportunity for our IEA Western riders,” said Roxane Durant, IEA Co-founder/executive director. “This is a great example of support for the mission of the IEA—introducing youth to equestrian competition and the fun had by the riders.”