February 28, 2020 (Columbus, Ohio) – Celebrating its 18th season, the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) has again set a record for membership. This season (2019-2020), membership numbers topped out at 14,444. While the highest concentration of members is East of the Mississippi; the Western states are experiencing a greater percentage of growth – especially in Zone 10 in California where IEA will hold the 2020 Hunt Seat National Finals in Burbank, California this April. The recent addition of the 4th and 5th grade Intro Rider Program as well as the explosion of interest in the new Dressage program has attracted many new IEA participants.
In 2002, IEA started with 175 riders on 13 teams and has become the largest youth equestrian organization in the Country and the largest feeder organization to collegiate equestrian programs – offering tens of thousands in scholarship awards and opportunities each season. Importantly, there is no need for any rider to own a horse to participate in the IEA. However, the participating teams and barns are expected to provide horses and equipment for the competitions. The IEA utilizes a draw-based form of competition whereby riders are given an unknown mount on which they compete – leveling the playing field and challenging the rider’s ability to adapt to different horses each ride.
“Our goal was never to become the largest ‘anything,’ said Roxane Durant, IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director. “We have, however, stayed true to our core of introducing young horse enthusiasts to equestrian sport. We also wanted our student-riders to be recognized as the athletes they are. The success is a testament to delivering equestrian sport to a previously under-served marketplace demand. We have seen tremendous success in our first year of the Intro Rider Pilot Program and look forward to expanding it even further next season.”
The IEA Board of Directors, management and staff credit the thousands of volunteers who assist the organization, coaches and riders in making the organization successful. “It is a wonderful sense of Community among those associated with the IEA,” stated Durant. “With over 800 IEA horse shows across the nation and more than 92,000 rides each year – it would be impossible to operate without tremendous volunteer support.”
IEA Membership rates are very affordable and are the same for all disciplines – Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage. Fees are $60 per individual member for the season. Teams are $150. Enrollment for the 2020-2021 season will open June 2020 with competitions beginning September 1, 2020. Early Bird discounts are also available. For more information, visit www.rideiea.org.