By Kim Lemmon
Recently, I was asked to steward a horse show for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA). IEA teams host team-oriented horse shows for students in grades 6 through 12. I am sometimes asked to judge or steward some their western events because of my history as a member and a coach of college equestrian teams. The format of equestrian team shows is very different from that of a traditional horse show.
I am always happy to help with these events because I often see former students, competitors and even my former coaches. It is fun and flattering for me to serve as an official for former coaches and colleagues plus I am always paid for it, which makes it even more inviting.
As a college coach, I taught and readied students between the ages of 18 and 23 for the show ring. IEA is an organization that was created 10 years ago to allow students between the ages of 11 and 19 to compete as individuals and teams against other students.
When the IEA was started, it was comprised of 200 students. Ten years later, more than 5,000 student members and hundreds of teams compete in IEA events across North America. IEA offers members a chance to ride hunt seat, western and saddle seat. Since horses and tack are provided at the competitions, it is not necessary for riders to own horses or tack. It is a great way for students to learn to ride many different horses and adjust to new mounts quickly as they are not allowed to practice at a show before they enter the arena to show. They simply mount the horse they are given and enter the arena to show.
Jumping classes are the exception to this rule. During these events the riders are allowed a brief opportunity to become accustomed to the horse they will be showing before they enter the class. The performance of each student is based on horsemanship and equitation not the horse.
The hunt seat shows include six classes jumping over fences no greater than three feet and numerous flat equitation classes. Western riders show in horsemanship and reining, and saddle seat riders show in both rail and individual classes. Classes are offered in all disciplines for riders from beginners through advanced.
The objectives of IEA are according to their website are:
- To promote the equestrian as an athlete
- To provide students with organized competitive opportunities
- To introduce new riders to equine sports
- To promote the IEA among middle and secondary schools
- To provide students with opportunities for further education equine sports and other equine-related matters
- To encourage liaison with other equestrian groups
- To provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated mounted and non-mounted equestrian programs
- To establish and enforce IEA rules, standards and policies
- To evolve with the continuing progress of equestrian sports
- To generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to the horse industry and all segments thereof.
The great thing about the IEA is it gives students a chance to learn to ride and show horses without the expenses involved in owning their own horse. Sure there are show fees, membership fees, lesson fees and horse show clothes to buy, but these expenses are minor when they are compared to those of owning and maintaining show horses of their own.
I often encourage friends and family with horse crazy kids to join an IEA team before they invest thousands of dollars in a horse and all the necessary accessories that go with it. Make sure your child is really ready for the work and commitment required to own a horse by exposing them to horses through riding lessons and IEA shows before you spend money on a horse.
To find out more about IEA, contact them at 877-RIDE-IEA (877-743-3432), firstname.lastname@example.org or through their website at www.rideiea.org. The IEA can also be followed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.