Monday, April 29, 2019 (Columbus, Ohio) – The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) played host to over 350 young riders in grades 6-12 at the iconic Holland Arena in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – home to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. From April 26-28, riders from across the United States showed outstanding poise, professionalism, sportsmanship and equestrian ability as they competed in both individual and team classes over fences and on the flat to determine the winners. These riders, made up from 10 Zones across the country, vied for national titles and to be among the top eight riders in their classes. The finalists represented 191 teams from a total of 10,567 eligible hunt seat riders and 1,382 teams. Individuals and teams participated in multiple competitions during regular season shows, regional finals and zone finals to qualify for the National Finals competition.
The IEA utilizes a draw-based format that requires riders to 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.
Stepping back into the spotlight and rising to the top of this year's National Finals was 2019 Leading Hunt Seat Rider, Riley Babb from TerryAllen Farms (Zone 1) in Terryville, Connecticut. Babb secured a national title in 2018 when he won the Varsity Intermediate Over Fences Individual class. The IEA Leading Rider is selected from the highly competitive Varsity Open Championship class, where riders compete in two phases – over fences and on the flat. Beginning with 12 riders, Judges Randy Neumann and Phillip Long (both USEF "R" judges from Rougemont, North Carolina) whittled down their top choices with additional difficult testing of the top several riders. Joining Babb in the spotlight was Reserve Champion Varsity Open Championship rider, Olivia Brown from Little Clovelly/C-Line Stables (Zone 3) in Easton, Maryland. Babb received $1,000 in Scholarship money from IEA as well as a host of awards and prizes from generous sponsors as well as opportunities for further competition and training with the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA). Babb is also the first male rider to earn the Leading Hunt Seat rider title. He is coached by Samantha Borkoski.
Taking top honors in the Upper School Team competition was HRA-Foxtail Farm (Zone 3) from Virginia Beach, Virginia and coached by Dana Kiser. The Middle School Team Championship was won by Yinger Equestrian Team (Zone 5) out of Pataskala, Ohio and coached by Lindsay Yinger and Courtney Newby. Placing in the Reserve Champion slot for Upper School Team was Clover Grove (Zone 3) from Staunton, Virginia coached by Luanne Leonard and Britni Cash. Reserve Champion Middle School Team went to Hanover Heritage Equestrian Center (Zone 3) from Hanover, Virginia coached by Kimmie Lawhorn.
The IEA holds the trait of good sportsmanship in the highest regard – both for riders and coaches. Lauren Kamber from Milton Eagles Equestrian – Red Team (Zone 4) in Alpharetta, Georgia took home the 5th Annual Coach Sportsmanship Award. Tara Wall from Criedmont Saddle Club in Bellingham, Washington (Zone 9) was awarded the Victor Hugo-Vidal Sportsmanship Award.
Each year at IEA National Finals, the United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (USPC) presents a non-riding competition in the form of a written test and a hands-on practicum for a select group of finalists. The Holy Innocents Episcopal School Horsemanship Test Upper School winner was Claire Livingston of Lake Effect Equestrian Team in McKean, Pennsylvania (Zone 11). Middle School winner went to Pia Zuffoletti of Clover Grove in Charlottesville, Virginia (Zone 3).
Since its creation, the IEA has relied on the support from its many volunteers to assist in the success of the organization. The Volunteer of the Show award was presented to Maria Vaughn of Foxmoore Equestrian Team (Zone 2). Maria showed outstanding support to the IEA when she volunteered herself to single-handedly take care of four horses all week whose horse provider could not be in attendance.
The 12th Annual Timothy J. Boone Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Emily Zientek-David from Saint Clairsville, Ohio. David is an IEA Steward and Zone 11 Administrator. Additionally, she serves as the Zone Administrator and backbone of the newly emerging IEA Dressage Program. David served as one of the 2019 Hunt Seat National Finals Stewards and has held multiple posts with the IEA for nearly two decades.
The IEA is committed to the wellness of the horses in all competitions. To recognize the quality of the horses donated for the three-day event, "Collin" (provided by Lucky C Stables) was named Most Valuable Flat Horse and "Monte" (provided by Briarwood Stables) was named Most Valuable Fences Horse.
"Every year I am amazed at the outstanding quality of the horses brought to this show by our horse providers and their willingness to share these fine animals with our riders," said Roxane Durant, IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director. "We realize the amount of work involved in hauling and caring for horses at a National Finals and we are again so appreciative of the opportunities for our kids to ride such quality mounts."
Horses for National Finals were graciously provided by: Delaware Valley University, Grier School, Black Horse Stables, Bethany College, Candy Lane Acres, Briarwood Farm, Innova Riding Academy, Stellar Riding, Morrisville State, Cavalier Farm, Megan Mendenhall, Granite Springs, and Serenity Farm.
In addition to horse providers, IEA could not conduct National Finals without the generosity of a multitude of affiliates and sponsors who provide monetary and donated support for our riders. The following organizations and businesses played a key role in the 2019 Hunt Seat National Finals: United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA), United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA), National Collegiate Horse Shows Association (NCEA), United States Pony Club (USPC), American Paint Horse Association (APHA), Avalon Performance, American National Riding Commission (ANRC), BarnManager, Belle & Bow Equestrian, Besco Awards, Bethany College, C4 Belts Equestrian, Emory & Henry College, Equestrian Team Apparrel, Equi-In-Style, Equine Affaire, Equine Journal, Equisure, Gift Horse Baskets, Hollins University, Holy Innocents Episcopal School, Hunt Club, Inkstables, IHSA Alumni Association, JIN Stirrup, Judy Goldthwait Equine Art & Pet Portraits, Kastel Denmark, Kim's Custom Engraving, Lake Erie College, LM Boots, Lucky C Stables, Madeira School, Maryville College, M Equestrian Solutions, Meredith Manor, Midway University, Mount Holyoke, Partridge Run Show Jumps, Pennsylvania National Horse Show, R.J. Classics, The Right Horse, Ron Schwane Photography, Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), Shapleys, Shires Equestrian Products, St. Andrew's University SmarPak, Sweet Briar College, The Show Trunk II, Tack Butter, Tonya Johnston Mental Health Coach, Tredstep Ireland, and Wear Your Passion.
IEA Champion Upper School Team - HRA-Foxtail (Zone 3) from Virginia Beach, Virginia and coached by Dana Kiser. Photo by Ron Schwane Photography.
Emily Zientek-David (Center) was presented the 12th Annual Timothy J. Boone Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor in the IEA by Executive Director, Roxane Durant and 2018 recipient, Amanda Garner. Photo by Ron Schwane Photography.
Monte, provided by Briarwood Farm, was selected by the Judges as the Most Valuable Fences Horse at the 2019 IEA Hunt Seat National Finals. Photo by Ron Schwane Photography.