The Interscholastic Equestrian Association 2020–2021 Western National Finals will take place during the American Paint Horse Association World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas. The APHA World Show will take place June 25–July 11, 2021. IEA Western Finals will take place over two days during this time period, however exact dates are yet to be determined.
APHA Executive Director Billy Smith offered the platform to allow 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 event.
“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. We look forward to welcoming the IEA to Fort Worth next year,” Billy said. APHA is an IEA Member Partner.
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. The 160 top placers then move on to the Western Finals.
The IEA uses a draw-based format for competition, whereby riders randomly select the horse(s) on which they will compete 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 $9,000 in scholarship awards will be presented at this National Finals to qualifying seniors.
For many years, the IEA Western National Finals were held during the NRHA Derby Week in Oklahoma City. Gary Carpenter, NRHA commissioner and former IEA board member, endorsed the move to move to the APHA Show.
“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 equestrian sport,” he said. Carpenter also confirmed the NRHA will remain the major sponsor of the IEA Western Finals. The NRHA is an IEA Member Partner.
“We are so pleased that two of our major Western Member Partners collaborated and developed such an exciting opportunity for our IEA Western riders,” IEA Co-founder/Executive Director Roxane Durant said. “This is a great example of support for the mission of the IEA—introducing youth to equestrian sport and the fun had by the riders.”
Now in its 19th year, the IEA has over 14,500 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 (grades 4-12) 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.