To Start an IEA Team….

Photo courtesy of Allegra Calcagni.

BY Allegra Calcagni

The Interscholastic Equestrian Association offers affordable opportunities for students in middle and high school to gain show experience and be part of a team. Teams compete in both the fall and spring, with hopes to compete at regionals, zones, and eventually, nationals. 

To start a team you need a minimum of 3 riders all within the same age group – either middle school or high school. Middle school riders can be in grades 4-8, while students in grades 9-12 will fall into the high school category. To start both a high school and middle school team, you’ll need 6 riders total to fill both teams. Following the guidelines on can help you officially register your team within your geographical zone and then region. 

The season typically starts in September of each year. It’s best to get your team in order some time before the season starts to set expectations and begin practicing. Because of the unique and inclusive nature of IEA, some riders may not have had show experience before, so it is best to allow ample time to practice so riders are putting their best foot forward in the ring.

The mechanics of how each barn runs their team is entirely up to the coach. Some run one full team practice per week so the riders can bond as a team and take notes on their teammates’ lesson horses, similar to how they would watch horses warm up at a show. However, some coaches will organize their riders by ability level and have their students ride with those at the same level as them. You will need enough school horses or team riders with their own horses in order to practice, so this can greatly influence how practices are run. 

Once the coach and riders have filled out all necessary applications for the team, it’s time to find shows to attend! Your region president will likely send you show information as well, for shows that are within your region. Each rider can compete in 5 shows per season, and must attend a minimum of 2 shows to be considered for post season competition such as regionals, zones, and nationals. 

Local shows can be found at This is also where you can get entry forms to send in to the host teams. There are easy to follow instructions on how to find your zone and do your entries. There are often strict deadlines for entries, so make sure to pay attention!

Once this is completed, the team is ready to go! IEA is a wonderful organization to continue to grow the sport and challenge riders in ways they might not be able to access otherwise. The camaraderie and team pride that is fostered through this program will create lasting memories for the riders for years to come.