Syracuse, New York—April 25, 2013—351 of the nation's leading middle school and high school equestrians competed at The New York State Fairgrounds April 19-21 for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) National Finals sponsored by Dover Saddlery and the American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA). The finalists represented 889 teams and over 8,000 student-riders from eight zones throughout the United States. Individuals and teams participated in multiple competitions during the 2012-2013 regular season shows, regional and zone finals to qualify for the IEA National Finals competition.

Riders competed in Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences classes and Equitation on-the-flat classes throughout the weekend. The IEA format requires that riders compete in unfamiliar tack on unfamiliar mounts; therefore, they draw their horses the day of competition and enter the arena after a brief, if any, warm-up.

In the individual competition Emelie Burgess who rides for the Windcrest Equestrian Team of Hebron, Connecticut, was named the IEA Leading Hunt Seat Rider of the Year, winning the Varsity Open Championship class.

In the upper school team competition, the Storybook Farm Riding Team, Charleston, South Carolina placed first. Empress Equestrian Team, Columbus, Ohio, was the reserve champion team. In the middle school competition, Maypine Equestrian Center, Willoughby Hills, Ohio, received the championship title. Storybook Farms Riding Team finished as the reserve champion.

The IEA holds the trait of good sportsmanship among rider and coach members to the highest regard. In a tie vote, Jacob Werner of the Elvenstar Team from Moorpark, California, and Hannah Bentz, Wall Street Farm, Wellington, Florida, were awarded the Victor Hugo-Vidal Perpetual Trophy for displaying exceptional sportsmanship during the 2013 Hunt Seat National Finals. The Team Spirit Award was presented to Emerald City Equestrian, Skaneateles, New York.

The Timothy J. Boone Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Ollie Griffith, Columbus, Ohio for his long-time contribution to the IEA. Renowned in Western Equestrian world as a teacher, trainer and judge, Griffith is an IEA co-founder and continues to serve as a board member. This is the sixth year in which this award has been presented.

The IEA is committed to wellness of the horses in all competitions. To recognize the quality of the horses donated for the three-day event, "Bernie" (owned by Cazenovia College) was named Outstanding IEA Hunt Seat Horse.

The IEA Western National Finals, sponsored by the National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHYA), will be held during the NRHA Derby Days June 27-29 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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: