What is IEA? The Interscholastic Equestrian Association Explained

Photo © Jennifer Wile Rubin


Do you have a friend or child who competes in IEA? An overwhelming majority of non-horsey parents have no idea what their child does in their sport, but when it comes to IEA everyone should know what it is and how it works. As the regular IEA season is dying down, more and more riders are qualifying for regional finals. But what does this actually mean?

The regular season in IEA is generally from September to mid-February. During this season, each rider has the opportunity to ride in five shows without having to own a horse or their own tack. This is an amazing experience for any rider striving to improve their equitation and ability to ride unfamiliar horses. At each show, riders generally compete in two classes: a flat class and a jumping class. They draw a random horse and have a very short amount of time to familiarize themselves with the animal. For a jumping class, they get time in the warm-up ring for two jumps and lead changes. For a flat class, there’s no warm-up allowed at all.

Photo © Jennifer Wile Rubin

At each show, the rider gets points towards regional finals for every ribbon they earn. In Zone 1 during the 2018-2019 season, a rider needs 18 points to qualify for regional finals. If they get these required points, they are able to advance to regionals. But if a rider receives 21 points or more, the rider points out and is required to move up to the next level for the following year.

During each show, the coach assigns a point rider for each class. The exception being if a large class is split, in which they would only choose one point rider for the overall section. Ribbons won count towards each rider’s individual points, but point riders get their points added to the team’s tally. At the end of each show, the teams will be ranked by the number of points that they received during the show. Their points for their placing go towards qualifying for regionals.

IEA rider Lainie Rubin. Photo © Jennifer Wile Rubin

Once a rider is at regionals, they are now required to get a certain placing in the division to move on to zones. There are both team and individual classes. If the team qualified as a whole, each team appoints one rider to compete in the team class for their division. Depending on how well the team does at regionals, they may move on to zones as well.

Once at zones, a rider once again has to receive a certain placing in order to move on to national finals. Of course, making it this far is a mighty success! Parallel to regionals, there are both team classes and individual classes. If a team and/or an individual does well, they are able to make it to national finals.

Finally, Nationals! At nationals, all of the riders who have had great success over the year compete against each other (in their respective divisions) for the title of champion in their class. Any rider who has made it this far should view this as a great accomplishment and if you have a friend or child who has made it this far, see if you are able to be there to cheer them on!

Lauren Keilty is an aspiring writer and photographer who is hoping to have a career with horses. She has been competing in IEA for four years now and is excited to share her experiences with the rest of the world! Follow Lauren’s Photography at www.laurenkeilty.wixsite.com/photos

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