How to Prepare for Next Year’s IEA Competitions During the Off Season

Photo © Jennifer Wile Rubin


Weeks after the IEA National championships, activity for many IEA team members has come to a halt. The show season for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association begins during mid autumn and stretches all the way through to spring – but what about the summer months while there is a break from practicing and competing? It’s the perfect time to prepare! These are some ways to stay sharp and to get ready for the upcoming IEA season.

Finding a team

If you haven’t already, it is time to look into teams to join. With nearly 11,000 hunt seat riders and over 1,400 teams in the country, finding one near you hopefully won’t be much of an issue. For more information on joining a team and teams near you, visit the IEA team map at

Photo © Vyla Carter

Reviewing Your Rides

At horse shows or just at the barn in lessons, if accessible, it is helpful to have a parent, friend, trainer, or loose pony kid to film your trips or lessons. Going over your previous ride can highlight weaknesses and areas that need work. This is useful not only for IEA, but reviewing your rides on different horses can also pinpoint things that could use consistent work.

Photo © Emy Lucibello

Riding Different Horses

If you have access, ride as many horses as possible. The fancy hunter, the needs-some-work greenie, or the dead broke schoolmaster. No matter what kind of horse, saddle time is saddle time. Getting on different horses that have an unfamiliar stride or jump will make it easier to adjust your skills to the horses that you may ride in IEA competitions. Each horse can teach you something different, and give you a chance to work on your equitation as well.

Photo © Rebecca Kaplan

No Stirrup Work

As for everything else in the horse world, it’s always a good time to work with without stirrups. Improving your leg position and strength, as well as overall position, can all be accredited to working without stirrups. Coincidentally, you can practice this on almost every horse that you ride. Riding without your irons can come in handy in sticking shenanigans, flat classes, and your overall riding in general. Spend time strengthening yourself now, so during the active show season it is just revisiting a now natural instinct.

The offseason gives us time to focus on ourselves as riders as well as focusing on the regular circuit. If competing in the winter in the regular hunter/jumper scene is not in reach for you, finding an IEA team to join can help you find another support system as well as another way to reach goals in competition.