SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) is experiencing another record breaking year.
Celebrating its 16th competition season, the IEA, again set a record for membership. This season (2017-2018), membership is nearly 14,000. While the highest concentration of members is East of the Mississippi; the Western states are experiencing a greater percentage of growth. A new membership category-Junior Contributing Member-also attracted many new IEA participants.
In 2002, the IEA started with 175 riders on 13 teams and has become the largest youth equestrian organization in the country, and the largest feeder organization to collegiate equestrian programs.
The 2018 Hunt Seat National Finals were held in Syracuse, N.Y., with nearly 400 riders vying for national titles in the Toyota Coliseum on the New York State Fairgrounds.
From April 20-22, riders in grades 6 to 12 from across the United States showed outstanding poise, professionalism, sportsmanship and equestrian ability as they competed in both individual and team classes in over fences and on the flat to determine the winners. The finalists represented 162 teams from a total of 10,933 eligible hunt seat riders and 1,451 teams from 10 zones. Individuals and teams participated in multiple competitions during regular season shows, regional finals and zone finals to qualify for the National Finals competition.
Rising to the top of this year’s National Finals was 2018 Leading Hunt Seat Rider, Tomiko McGovern from Lucky C Stables (Zone 2) in New Paltz, N.Y. McGovern kicked off her winning streak by making the callbacks and going on to win the USHJA Varsity Open on the Flat Individual Final on day one of National Finals.
On day two, McGovern came back to win a very competitive Varsity Open Championship class of 12 of the best IEA riders in the nation to take the crown of Varsity Open Champion and 2018 Leading Hunt Seat Rider. Barely stopping to catch her breath, she then showed in the first team class of the morning on day three only to make the callbacks and go on to win the Varsity Open on the Flat Team Final.
Then, along with her teammates from Lucky C Stables, they accumulated more than double the points of the next closest team to sweep the title of Upper School Team Champions.
McGovern received $2,100 in Scholarship money from IEA as well as a host of awards and prizes from sponsors as well as opportunities for further competition and training with the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) and the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA).
In addition to all this success, it was revealed during the Parade of Teams that McGovern was the only rider present at National Finals that had qualified six out of seven possible years. McGovern and her teammates are coached by Jessica Anselmo and Susan Clark.
The Middle School Team Championship was won by Parkview Equestrian Team (Zone 2) from Central Islip, N.Y. coached by Yvonne Burns and Marlene McCabe.
Each year at IEA National Finals, the United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (USPC) presents a non-riding competition in the form of a written test and a hands-on practicum for a select group of finalists. The Holy Innocents Episcopal School Horsemanship Test Middle School winner was Matt Tracy of Briarwood Farm Equestrian Team in Ringoes, N.J. (Zone 11).
The IEA is committed to the wellness of the horses in all competitions. To recognize the quality of the horses donated for the three-day event, “Twister” (provided by Cazenovia College) was named Champion Outstanding IEA Hunt Seat Horse and “Swell” (provided by Lessa Walker Stable) was named Best Turned-Out Horse.
“The outstanding quality of the horses brought to this show by our horse providers and their willingness to share these fine animals with our riders continues to be among the best we have seen at any IEA Nationals,” said Roxane Durant, IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director. “We realize the amount of work involved in hauling and caring for horses at a National Finals, especially in less than ideal weather conditions, and we know that our kids appreciated the opportunity to ride such quality mounts.”
Horses for National Finals were provided by: Alfred University, Cazenovia College, CNY EQ, Fairway Farm, Galemont Farms, Grier School, Huntington Meadows, Lucky C Stables, Morrisville State College, North Country Horses, RGB/CNY, TAPS/North Riding, Leesa Walker Stables, and Whistler Ridge.
The Grier School (Zone 11) won the team spirit award.
Earlier in the year the Tyrone, Pa. school was successful in the first IEA Dressage finals. The IEA Dressage Pilot Program was a series of competitions in which youth riders demonstrate their skills on unfamiliar horses in both Dressage Test and Dressage Seat Equitation events.
At the finale held in March in Ohio, upper school team were champions while the middle school team finished third.
The Western Finals will be held in June in Oklahoma. The Grier School leads the western points standings for Zone 11.
Complete list of riders/teams final hunt seat standings is available on the IEA website: www.rideiea.org
This event was live streamed by The EpCo Group and is available for viewing on the YouTube page at www.theepcogroup.com
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