May 17, 2017, Columbus, Ohio - The Board of Directors of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) recently approved a proposal to re-organize the structure of the Western discipline beginning in the 2017-2018 season. Under the current structure, there are ten Western Zones across the United States that includes multiple regions within each Zone. Under the new format there will be one Western Zone splitting into eleven regions that will have more than 160 teams and 2,000 riders. In contrast to the Hunt Seat Zone structure, this unique, non-geographic, discipline-specific zone encompasses all of the United States with an effort to lead to a more successful and equally balanced IEA National Western Finals. The IEA will continue to hold the Western National Finals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in conjunction and affiliation with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA).

During the regular season, there will be no change to the process for qualifying for regional finals and all eleven regions will hold a regionals competition. The change happens in that there will not be Western Zone Finals as in previous years, but instead there will be two Semi-Finals held to determine which riders will move on to the National Finals competition.

"The ongoing, year-long effort by IEA Co-founder and Board Member, Ollie Griffith, along with his Western Committee, has launched a new and exciting endeavor for Western teams," says IEA Executive Director, Roxane Durant. "We hope that this re-structuring will allow riders to experience a more robust regional finals and semi-finals and ultimately help to inspire new Western Teams to form throughout the United States."

In addition to Griffith, the IEA Western Committee members include: Jessica Bein (Zone 8, Arizona); Bobby Dean (Zone 2, Pennsylvania); Roger Elder (Zone 4, Tennessee); Ruth Finley (Zone 3, North Carolina); Lynlee Foster (Zone 5, Kentucky); Holly Hover (Zone 8, Arizona); Kevin Jewell (Zone 4, Georgia); Todd Knerr (Zone 5 Administrator); Katie Morehead (Zone 5, Ohio); Ashley Wilson (Zone 4, Georgia) and IEA staff members Roxane Durant (Executive Director), Jennifer Eaton (Membership Marketing Coordinator) and Myron Leff (Chief Operating Officer).

A Western Zone Administrator will be named in coming weeks.

ZONE SPLIT GUIDELINES 2017-2018

Region Assignments (WESTERN):

Western will be splitting into 11 regions with 164 teams originally assigned.

  • Each Western region will have an elected Region President.
  • Teams will be assigned to a region based on locality, number of riders, and resources (horse and facility).
  • All of these factors will be considered when assigning a region and some teams may be assigned a region outside one of the parameters above.
  • Teams will be assigned a region no later than July 15th of each year.
  • Any team joining after September 1st will be assigned to any region based on the above criteria and at the discretion of the Zone Administrator.

Post Season Format (WESTERN):

  • Individual riders with qualifying points will compete in the individual classes at Regional Finals.
  • Teams with qualifying points will compete in the team competition at Regional Finals.
  • There will be no more than 12 riders per individual class and no more than 12 teams at Semi-Finals.
  • Each region is guaranteed 2 spot(s) in both individual classes and the team competition.
  • The remaining spots will be allotted based on rider population in each region as of December 31 each year.

Post Season Dates (WESTERN):

  • The Region Finals Show must be held no less than ten (10) business days before the Semi-Finals horse show.
  • Rule 2803.10: Regional Split guidelines ideally include dates for post season competitions. If those dates are not included in the proposal they must be submitted by September 15th.
  • Dates for the Region and Semi-Finals show shall be published by October 1 of every year.
  • Any rider or team that will not attend Semi-Finals must declare a forfeit of status before the draw at Regional Finals. In that case, the next rider/team will move into the qualified position for Semi-Finals.
  • All Semi-Finals will be commenced on a date no later than fifteen (15) business days before the date established for the IEA National Finals.
  • Both Regional Finals and Semi-Finals must be considered a community effort. All teams and individual riders who qualify to compete are expected to participate in the organization and/or running of the Regional Final and/or Semi-Final in some way; including, but not limited to, providing a facility, schooling riders, show staff, volunteers and horses.