Athletic Equestrian League Holds 2020 National Championships Virtually


Virtual Competition to remain an option for 2020-2021 Show Season

Plymouth, NH (August 7, 2020)—The 2020 Athletic Equestrian League National Championships were held virtually this summer, with eighty riders from thirteen teams vying for top honors. Midnight Acres Equestrian Team (Fincastle, VA) took the National Championship over reserve champion team Nashoba Valley (Littleton, MA). Additionally, individual championships were awarded in seven divisions. The virtual format was so successful that AEL will continue to offer a virtual option for the 2020-2021 show season.

“Our Nationals were scheduled for May at Mt. Holyoke College,” says Sally Batton, AEL founder and president. “We decided that our athletes had lost so much with COVID cancellations that we had to find another way.”

AEL competition includes three phases: flat, fences and practicum for English riders, and horsemanship, patterns and practicum for Western. Riders are placed into one of five levels based on their previous riding and showing experience, and they ride a horse provided by the show organizer. All performance requirements are shared in advance, so competitors know exactly what will be expected at the show. Riders are scored objectively against a set standard, making virtual judging fair and accessible. 

For the virtual format, athletes submitted videos of their required rides via YouTube links, which were scored remotely by judges C.J. Law (Belchertown, MA) and Amanda Hare (Sutton, MA). The practicum phase was administered at the athlete’s home barn with a signed affidavit that the work was that of the competitor alone. Videos had to be filmed in one take, so rider performance was as similar to a regular horse show as possible. 

Results were announced via live awards ceremony on Facebook and the AEL website, which included a congratulatory video from Olympian Beezie Madden and IHSA founder Bob Cacchione. Ribbons and prizes were provided by sponsors Strafford Saddlery (Quechee, VT), Seeside Designs (Duxbury, MA), Mrs. Pasture’s Horse Cookies, the US Equestrian Federation and the Certified Horsemanship Association. In addition, each competitor received a goody bag and Athletic Equestrian face mask.

“When we first came up with the idea, we weren’t sure how it would work or go over with our athletes,” says Batton. “Our coaches, parents, athletes and judges all raved about the experience. Everyone was so thrilled they could still compete after working so hard all year.”

AEL membership for the 2020-2021 season is now open, with competitive opportunities for riders in 1st-12th grade, collegiate riders and adults. Athletes can qualify for the 2021 AEL National Championships in one of three ways: at in-person competitions following AEL COVID policies, at intra-barn scrimmages or through virtual competitions hosted by member barns/teams.

For a list of complete results please visit:

About the Athletic Equestrian League (

The Athletic Equestrian League is an organization of equestrian athletes who compete in practical horsemanship. Individual competition is offered in both English and Western disciplines and includes a Minis development division for 1st-3rd grades and competition for 4th-12th graders, collegiate riders and adults. Team competition is offered in both English and Western for athletes in 4th-12th grade and at the collegiate level.


Athletic Equestrian League

Sally Batton, founder and president

Cell 603-359-0008 /