The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Western National Finals, presented by the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), will take place for a second time during the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas.
The APHA World Show will take place June 23 – July 9, 2023 with IEA Western Finals taking place in both the Watt Arena and the historic Will Rogers Coliseum on June 24 – June 25.
APHA Executive Director, Billy Smith and Senior Director for Judges, Shows & Education, Dave Dellin offered the platform back in 2020 to allow youth riders of the IEA to showcase their talents along with APHA youth equestrians in separate, but complimentary, competitions during one of the nation’s largest youth equestrian events. IEA held a successful 2021 Western Finals at this APHA World event and have formally renewed the partnership for 2023 and 2024.
“The future of equestrian sport is dependent on attracting young people to participate. We show a variety of competition disciplines during our World Championship Show, but there is nothing better than kids watching other kids having fun to show our sport. We look forward to again hosting the IEA during our event and expanding opportunities for fun interaction,” Smith said. APHA is a Member Partner of the IEA.
IEA hosted more than 80 Western Horsemanship, Reining and Ranch Riding competitions across the country between August 2022 and May 2023. The IEA hosted nearly 900 total shows between their three disciplines (Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage) this season alone. Approximately 200 IEA Western riders from around the nation in grades 4-12 will converge upon Fort Worth to take part in this elite competition. These 11-19 year old student athletes competed locally to gain enough points to qualify for regional competitions and ultimately qualify for National Finals as individual and team competitors.
Similar to collegiate-based programs, the IEA utilizes a draw-based (catch-ride) format whereby riders are randomly assigned the horse(s) on which they will compete just minutes before entering the show arena (with little to no warm-up). Horses are generously provided by local professional barns, IEA teams, and university programs. This season alone, the IEA will have presented a total of over $1.1 million dollars in various academic and talent-based cash and collegiate scholarships by the close of this third National Finals event. Scholarships are generously provided by individual and corporate donors, universities and colleges, and from IEA General Operating funds.
Judges for the IEA Western National Finals are Charlene Carter (AQHA, APHA, NRHA, NSBA) from Goodlettsville, Tennessee and Carla Wennberg (AQHA, NSBA, NRHA) from Laurinburg, North Carolina. Show Stewards are Bryan Bradley from Warwick, Maryland and Conner Smith from Frankfort, Kentucky. Show Manager is IEA Western Zone Administrator, Tammy Braham from Thompson, Ohio.
“We are thrilled to be returning as a part of the APHA World Show,” stated IEA Co-Founder/Executive Director, Roxane Durant. “It was such a great, energetic environment for our young athletes and coincides with our mission to provide unique opportunities for our youth riders to compete at renowned locations and events. This is an excellent example of support for the mission of the IEA – introducing youth to equestrian sport and the fun had by the riders.”
In addition to crowning dozens of national championship awards to teams and riders, the IEA will kick-off the National Finals weekend by also participating in the APHA Youth Team Tournament on Friday, June 23rd. This newly expanded, non-riding fun and games competition is geared specifically towards youth interaction with horsemanship knowledge quizzes, social media video competitions, a scavenger hunt, quiz-bowl and more. IEA will also co-host an ice-cream social with APHA on Sunday, June 25th as well as participate in other youth-based activities throughout the event.
More than 100 Sponsors and Member Partners support the three IEA National Finals events each year. Prominent Western National Finals Sponsors include presenting sponsor, National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) along with the National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA), American Paint Horse Association (APHA), American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), Bob’s Custom Saddles, Boot Barn, Cinch, Kimes Ranch Jeans, Lyon’s Legacy Horsemanship, Rod’s Western Palace, Schneiders Saddlery, St. Andrews University, University of Findlay, UltraCruz, Weaver Leather and many more.
Complete live streaming of the IEA Western National Finals will be available online and offered at no cost to viewers through the IEA website courtesy of Equine Promotion. Professional photography will be provided by Ruehle Photographix. For more information on IEA Western National Finals including class schedules, results, live stream links and more, visit: https://www.rideiea.org/2023nationalfinals/
ABOUT THE INTERSCHOLASTIC EQUESTRIAN ASSOCIATION (IEA)
Now entering its 22nd year, the IEA has over 14,600 members across the United States participating in Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage disciplines. There is no need for a rider to own a horse because the IEA hosting team supplies a mount and tack to each equestrian for competitions. IEA’s mission is to promote lifelong involvement in equestrian athletics. IEA wishes to introduce students in grades 4-8 (Future) and 9-12 (Upper School) to equestrian sports and to develop understanding and appreciation of equestrian sports through organized competitions and educational opportunities. IEA further wishes to inspire and facilitate adults to continue their journey in equestrian athletics for a lifetime. For more information, visit www.RideIEA.org
ABOUT THE AMERICAN PAINT HORSE ASSOCIATION (APHA)
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA promotes, preserves and provides meaningful experiences with Paint Horses. For more information, visit www.apha.com.