Saturday, July 1, 2017 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - Individual competition got underway at the 2017 Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) National Finals where nearly 200 riders from across the nation converged on Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to compete for National titles at the IEA Western Finals held during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. In addition to competing individually, IEA Teams compete for points during team classes which will take place tomorrow.

The day began with schooling of reining horses and the individual draw, where riders select which horses they will ride in random order. Oklahoma City State Fairgrounds has a deep history of equestrian sport competition and this week is no different. Held in conjunction with the world-class NRHA Derby, the IEA Finals utilizes several of the available rings and barns on the sprawling campus. As always, Announcer John Bahret kept the classes running smoothly as he effortlessly called out instructions and announcements to riders and audience members. The NRHA has an excellent system of providing live feed coverage of reining classes, with rider, horse, and owner information identified on the screen for viewers in the arena and around the globe.

The IEA Youth Board assisted in the presentation of awards following the reining and horsemanship individual classes as not only ribbons and NRHA trophies were presented, but for the first time in IEA history, saddles were given to Varsity and JV riders. Saddles were provided by the IEA and Tim Bower of Equine Oasis. IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director, Roxane Durant and Co-Founder and IEA Chief Operating Officer, Myron Leff also assisted with awards as did Co-Founder and Board Member Ollie Griffith and NRHA Commissioner, Gary Carpenter joined in for the celebration of awards presentation. Photography is provided by Waltenberry and Videography is provided by Equine Promotion.

Exhibitors, parents and coaches enjoyed a mid-day welcome party sponsored by the NRHA complete with food, a mechanical bull, climbing wall, bungee jump and bounce house. IEA was pleased to offer its student members the opportunity to take the Horsemanship Test sponsored by the United States Pony Club (USPC) again this year. The USPC is one of many sponsors and supporters of the IEA National Finals.

Saturday’s top winners included the following:

NRHA Varsity Open Reining – Individual Champion

Morgan Knerr from Autumn Rose Farm Equestrian Team (Zone 5 – Plain City, OH) riding Whimpys Dot Tari provided by Jim Dudley Quarter Horses

NRHA Varsity Intermediate Reining – Individual Champion

Luke Guynn from Rocky Mountain Wranglers (Zone 8 – Berthoud, CO) riding HighLoandInBetween provided by Jim Dudley Quarter Horses

NRHA Future Intermediate Reining – Individual Champion

Benjamin Balow from Arizona Sliders Reining Team (Zone 8 – Scottsdale, AZ) riding Mickey provided by Schwarz Reining

Varsity Open Horsemanship – Individual Champion

Olivia Willeke from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH) riding Lucy provided by OK 007

Future Novice Horsemanship – Individual Champion

Lauren Pursley from Texas High Riders (Zone 7 – North Zulch, TX) riding Buddy provided by West Texas A&M University

Future Intermediate Horsemanship – Individual Champion

Izzy Barth from Watkins Equestrian (Zone 5 – Canfield, OH) riding Pete provided Halvorson Ranch

Future Beginner Horsemanship – Individual Champion

Jada Mark from IIIR Stars Equestrian Team (Zone 4 – Portal, GA) riding Buddy provided West Texas A&M University

Varsity Intermediate Horsemanship – Individual Champion

Rylee Aurand from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH) riding Lucy from OK007

JV Beginner Horsemanship – Individual Champion

Addison Taylor from IIIR Stars Equestrian Team (Zone 4 – Portal, GA) riding Slicker from West Texas A&M University

JV Novice Horsemanship – Individual Champion

Rette Solomon from Cedar Ridge Equestrian (Zone 1 – Barre, VT) riding Bob from West Texas A&M University

Champion Western Rider

Olivia Willeke from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH)

Champion Crossover Rider (Huntseat and Western)

Meghan Moran from Hillside Meadows (Zone 1 – Graton, MA)

Read about Day Two...

Day Two of IEA Western National Finals Completes Year-Long Effort for Youth Equestrians

Myron Leff, Olivia Willeke, and Roxane Durant

Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Myron Leff; Champion Western Rider, Olivia Willeke, and Co-Founder and Executive Director, Roxane Durant.

Olivia Willeke from KM Equestrian in Findlay, OH

Varsity Open Horsemanship Winner and Champion Western Rider, Olivia Willeke from KM Equestrian in Findlay, OH