OKLAHOMA City, Okla. — Teams from Tyrone, Pa. and Cuba, N.Y. took home reserve championships from the IEA Western National Finals.

The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) hosted the 14th Annual IEA Western National Finals in Oklahoma City, Okla., June 15-16 during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby at the Oklahoma State Fair Park.

Two dozen qualified teams competed on June 16. Winning the Reserve Champion Upper School Team top honors was Grier School out of Tyrone, Pa. and coached by Chris McElyea. The middle school team was seventh.

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Grier School is consistently in the top rankings and competes in all three IEA disciplines (Western, Hunt Seat, and Dressage). The school also fared well at the Hunt Seat and Dressage finals in April.

At the western finals, Grier School senior, Klay Zimmerman was presented a $600 Senior Scholarship after winning the NSBA Varsity Intermediate Horsemanship class.

Taking home the Reserve Champion Middle School Team trophy was TMC Too from Cuba, N.Y. coached by Michael and Tonya Cooper. The Coopers had two teams qualify for Western National Finals: TMC Equestrian and TMC Too. The upper school team was fifth and the middle school team was fourth. Together the teams also won the Team Spirit Award.

Garrett Cooper, of TMC Too won both the future intermediate reining and horsemanship classes during the team competition.

Grove City Equestrian, of Grove City, Pa. coached by Tammy Braham was eighth in the upper school division.

Bob's Custom Saddles provided four custom saddles (valued at $4,200 each) to four class winners in a random drawing. Lindsey Kolb of TMC Equestrian, who won the Future Beginner Horsemanship class during the team competition, was one of the winners.

The United States Pony Club, Inc (USPC) annually conducts the Horseman's Knowledge written test at all National Finals which is open to any IEA rider member regardless of discipline or qualification at Finals.

Kendyl Rogers of TMC was champion in the middle school horsemanship test. Emma Veros of Western NY won the upper school horsemanship test with Mara Darney of Grove City Area in fourth and Erin Washburn of TMC Too, sixth.

Rogers and Veros were also third and fourth respectively in the horsemanship test practicum

NRHA has been a long-time sponsor of IEA and the Derby location is a perfect backdrop for IEA National Finals, where IEA riders mingled with NRHA professionals and world-class horses.

Over the course of two days, riders in grades 6 to 12 from across the nation competed for National Championship Titles in Western Horsemanship and Reining as both individual riders and for their teams. The IEA uses a draw-based format for competition, whereby riders randomly select the horses they compete on just minutes before entering the show arena (with no warm-up). Horses for the 2019 IEA Western Semi-Finals were provided by West Texas A&M University (Amanda Love), Schwarz Performance Horses (Patrick Schwarz), James Performance Horses (David James), Diamond V Ranch (Karen Kapp-Vance, DVM), Jennifer Kloppel, Boys Town Ranch, Halvorson Ranch (Rebecca Halvorson), Southern Nazarene College (Debby Latham), Janislyn Dorris, Guynn Training Center (Jan Guynn), Hanes Family, and Jim Dudley Quarter Horses (Jim Dudley).

On the evening prior to the start of competition, it was standing-room only at the NRHA office where IEA riders, coaches and parents enjoyed an IEA Judging Fundamentals clinic given by NRHA Judge Jody Brainard. Following the clinic, NRHA hosted a welcome party for all IEA members, complete with a water slide, mechanical bull, games, food vendors, and more. Youth members of the National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHyA) were on hand all weekend long to assist with IEA events and presentations, including the welcome party.

Judging this year’s Western National Finals were Lori Gordon (AQHA/NSBA) of Washington, Pa. and Pete McAlister of Mitchell, Indiana (NRHA/AQHA/NSBA). Katie Finkes-Turner of Xenia, Ohio and Rebekah Irish of Galva, Ill. served as Show Stewards. Waltenberry provided professional photography and this year’s finals were live-streamed and archived courtesy of Equine Promotions and US Equestrian (USEF). Equine Promotions also provided ride-review screens in the paddock area for riders to review their rides with their coaches immediately following their classes.

It was the first year for the Markel Insurance Ice Cream Meet & Greet at the NRHA Derby presented by Markel Insurance, and the event was a resounding success. The Meet & Greet gave youth riders from both the NRHA and the IEA the opportunity to visit with Markel’s Director of Western Disciplines Frank Costantini as well as a few of the NRHA’s top riders. NRHA Professionals Mirjam Stillo, Casey Deary, Cade McCutcheon, and Fernando Salgado as well as National Reining Horse Youth Association Officers, took time to visit, sign autographs, and take photos with IEA members.

During the show, Ollie Griffith, IEA Co-Founder and the person who was instrumental in adding the Western Discipline to the IEA, was recognized for his contribution upon his retirement from the IEA Board of Directors and the Western Committee. Roxane Durant, IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director, presented Ollie with a memento for his many contributions to the organization.

A full listing of results can be found at www.rideiea.org.

About IEA:

Now approaching its 18th year, the IEA has nearly 14,000 members across the United States riding and coaching Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage disciplines. The non-profit (501(c)3) IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students and is open to public and private schools and barn teams. There is no need for a rider to own a horse because the IEA supplies a mount and tack to each equestrian for competitions. Its purpose is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, to generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to equestrian competition at the middle and secondary school levels.

For more information, please visit www.rideiea.org.

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