Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, July 3, 2012—147 of the nation's leading middle school and high school equestrians competed at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma June 28-30, 2012. The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) student-riders competed in the Western discipline during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. The NRHA and the National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHYA) are affiliates of the IEA and sponsored the event. The finalists represented 33 teams from seven zones throughout the United States. Individuals and teams participated in multiple competitions during the 2011-2012 regular season shows, regional and zone finals to qualify for the IEA National Finals competition.
Riders competed in reining and horsemanship contests. The IEA format requires that riders compete in unfamiliar tack on unfamiliar mounts; therefore, each rider draws a horse the day of competition and enters the arena after a brief, if any, warm-up.
"This was the first time the IEA and the NRHA organizations teamed together to hold our Finals. It was fun being a part of the renowned NRHA Derby event. Our members, parents and coaches are overwhelmingly pleased with the support of the NRHA. We are especially grateful to the owners/trainers that supplied the high-quality horses," said Roxane Lawrence, IEA co-founder/executive director.
Dan Wall, executive director of the NRHA, stated, "We were honored to host the IEA Western National Finals at the 2012 NRHA Derby Show. The energy IEA members and supporters brought to the event was absolutely amazing. We enjoyed watching them compete and furthering their knowledge of the sport of Reining. They're talented competitors that are certain to be the next generation of equestrian superstars, and we are thrilled to be involved with them from the beginning."
In the individual competition, senior Carly Bedinghaus, who rides for the Dare Equestrian Team-Hilliard, Ohio-was named the IEA Champion Western Rider of the Year. Bedinghaus accumulated the most points in the individual Varsity Open Division.
In the second annual Interscholastic Reining Championship among the top four youth riders of the IEA and the top four NRHYA riders, the winner was Sarah Shaffer (NRHYA), Columbus, Ohio. Austin Jewell (IEA), Conyers, Georgia, finished second in a very close competition that included a ride-off for first place.
In the IEA upper school team competition, the KM Equestrian Team-Findlay, Ohio-earned the Championship title. Autumn Rose Equestrian Team-Plain City, Ohio-was the reserve champion team. In the middle school competition, Dare Equestrian Team-Hilliard, Ohio-received the championship title. The Hammond School-Columbia, South Carolina-finished as the reserve champion.
The IEA holds the trait of good sportsmanship among riders and coaches to the highest regard. For this reason, two awards were given to recognize rider-members displaying exceptional sportsmanship. In conjunction with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), Zac Brown, from the Hancock Horseman Equestrian Team-Findlay Ohio-won the IEA National Sportsmanship Award. Holly Phillips, from the Autumn Rose Equestrian Team-Plain City, Ohio- was awarded the NRHA Sportsmanship Award for displaying exceptional sportsmanship during the 2012 Western National Finals.
The IEA High Point Crossover Rider Award (rides in Western and Hunt Seat disciplines) was given to Haley Ruffner from the Alfred University Interscholastic Equestrian Team-Alfred, New York-for qualifying for both the individual Western and Hunt Seat National Finals in 2012. The Team Spirit Award was given to Autumn Rose Equestrian Team-Plain City, Ohio-for their great attitude and participation throughout the Finals event.
Each year the IEA recognizes the exceptional horse that participates in the Finals' competition. This year, the 2012 Outstanding Western Horse is Tuff to Hang With. Sponsored by NRHA, Tuff to Hang With was donated by Jeremy Lipps/Lipps Horse Training.
Founded in 2002, the IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students. 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 view the IEA website at: www.rideiea.org.
Photos from Waltenberry Photography