Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, July 1, 2013-150 of the nation's leading middle school and high school equestrians competed at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 27-29, 2013. 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 alliance partners 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 2012-2013 regular season shows 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 show arena with no opportunity to familiarize themselves with their mount.

"We couldn't be more pleased with the success of our second year being part of the NRHA Derby event. Our members, parents and coaches are overwhelmingly pleased with the support of the NRHA management and staff. We are especially grateful to the owners/trainers that supplied the high-quality horses," said Roxane Lawrence, IEA co-founder/executive director.

Beth Himes, NRHA president, stated, "The IEA riders are an impressive group of young people. It's amazing that these 11-19 year olds are so adept at reining. The NRHyA top four youth riders versus the IEA top four youth riders is among the highlights of Derby week. We look forward to many years of association with the IEA."

For the first time at an IEA National Finals, two individuals were awarded the IEA Champion Western Rider. This award goes to the rider who accumulates the most points in the Varsity Open Individual competition. Ryan May, who is a senior on the Ocoee Equestrian Team in Ooltewah, Tennessee and Kelsey Karanges who is a senior on the Oakridge Equestrian Team in Arlington, Texas-both earned the award this year.

In the third annual Interscholastic Reining Championship among the top four youth riders of the IEA and the top four NRHyA riders, the winner was Julia Purus (NRHyA), Purcell, Oklahoma. Benjamin Beckett (IEA), Dublin, Ohio, finished second.

In the IEA upper school team competition, the Dare Equestrian Team-Hilliard, Ohio-earned the Championship title. KM Equestrian Team-Findlay, Ohio-

was the reserve champion team. In the middle school competition, KM Equestrian Team-Findlay, Ohio received the championship title. The Last Lap Ranch Equestrian Team-Maryville, Tennessee-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 are given to recognize rider-members displaying exceptional sportsmanship. In conjunction with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), Haley Hogue, of Bentonville, Arkansas,-Ozark Legends Equestrian Team-won the IEA National Sportsmanship Award. Sophia Hendrix of Olean, New York, -TMC Equestrian Team-was awarded the NRHA Sportsmanship Award for displaying exceptional sportsmanship during the 2013 Western National Finals.

The IEA High Point Crossover Rider Award was given to Kiley Stadtmiller from the Alfred University Interscholastic Equestrian Team-Alfred, New York-for being the highest ranking individual to qualify for both the individual Western and Hunt Seat National Finals in 2013. The Team Spirit Award was given to the TMC Equestrian Team-Cuba, New York-for their great attitude and participation throughout the Finals event.

Each year the IEA recognizes an exceptional horse that participates in the Finals competition. This year, the 2013 Outstanding Western Horse Award sponsored by NRHA was presented to Streakin' Catalyst donated by Walters Equestrian Center, Inc., from Bourbon, Indiana.

Founded in 2002, the IEA has more than 8,000 middle and high school student-riders across the United States. 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.

photo of Upper School Team Finals Champion - Dare Equestrian Team

Upper School Team Champion: Dare Equestrian Team

photo of Middle School Team Finals Champion - KM Equestrian

Middle School Team Champion: KM Equestrian