For student equestrians in grades 4-12, the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) was established in the spring of 2002 and held its first annual national finals event the following year in Willoughby, Ohio. A non-profit organization, the IEA has grown both geometrically and geographically each year. Beginning with just 200 participants, the IEA now has over 14,500 members in 46 states across North America.
The IEA supports three disciplines: Hunt Seat, Western, and Dressage. There is no need for any rider to own a horse because competition horses are provided at each venue to the contestant.
IEA’s mission is to promote lifelong involvement in equestrian athletics. IEA wishes to introduce students in grades 4-8 (Future) and 9-12 (Upper School) to equestrian sports and to develop understanding and appreciation of equestrian sports through organized competitions and educational opportunities. IEA further wishes to inspire and facilitate adults to continue their journey in equestrian athletics for a lifetime.
Organized to promote and expand access to quality team and individual equestrian competition and instruction, IEA’s purpose shall be to set standards for competition; to provide information concerning the creation and development of equestrian sport programs; to promote the common interests of safe riding instruction; and to educate on matters related to horsemanship.
Students have the opportunity to earn scholarships toward their college education through awards in competition and through sportsmanship activities.
In 2011, the IEA established the Benevolent Fund to assist riders and coaches in need through programs such as the IEA Financial Assistance Program and the IEA Coaches Assistance Grant.
The unique aspect of the competitions, both at the local and national level, is that none of the riders will supply their own horses or tack. Instead, the host team arranges for the horses and equipment. Since the horse is new to the rider, the scores are based upon horsemanship and equitation. All disciplines offer a variety of ability levels from beginner through advanced. The IEA has set guidelines for the placement of new riders entering the IEA to allow for the unique program format of riding an unfamiliar horse.
The IEA works on collaborative programming with the following organizations: