Day One of Competition Makes for Exciting Start to the 2017 IEA Western National Finals

Saturday, July 2, 2017 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Individual competition got underway at the 2017 Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) National Finals where nearly 200 riders from across the nation converged on Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to compete for National titles at the IEA Western Finals held during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby.  In addition to competing individually, IEA Teams compete for points during team classes which will take place tomorrow.

The day began with schooling of reining horses and the individual draw, where riders select which horses they will ride in random order.  Oklahoma City State Fairgrounds has a deep history of equestrian sport competition and this week is no different.  Held in conjunction with the world-class NRHA Derby, the IEA Finals utilizes several of the available rings and barns on the sprawling campus.  As always, Announcer John Bahret kept the classes running smoothly as he effortlessly called out instructions and announcements to riders and audience members.  The NRHA has an excellent system of providing live feed coverage of reining classes, with rider, horse, and owner information identified on the screen for viewers in the arena and around the globe.

The IEA Youth Board assisted in the presentation of awards following the reining and horsemanship individual classes as not only ribbons and NRHA trophies were presented, but for the first time in IEA history, saddles were given to Varsity and JV riders.  Saddles were provided by the IEA and Tim Bower of Equine Oasis.  IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director, Roxane Durant and Co-Founder and IEA Chief Operating Officer, Myron Leff also assisted with awards as did Co-Founder and Board Member Ollie Griffith and NRHA Commissioner, Gary Carpenter joined in for the celebration of awards presentation.  Photography is provided by Waltenberry and Videography is provided by Equine Promotion.

Exhibitors, parents and coaches enjoyed a mid-day welcome party sponsored by the NRHA complete with food, a mechanical bull, climbing wall, bungee jump and bounce house.  IEA was pleased to offer its student members the opportunity to take the Horsemanship Test sponsored by the United States Pony Club (USPC) again this year.  The USPC is one of many sponsors and supporters of the IEA National Finals. Saturday’s top winners included the following:

  • NRHA Varsity Open Reining – Individual Champio
    Morgan Knerr from Autumn Rose Farm Equestrian Team (Zone 5 – Plain City, OH) riding Whimpys Dot Tari provided by Jim Dudley Quarter Horses
  • NRHA Varsity Intermediate Reining – Individual Champion
    Luke Guynn from Rocky Mountain Wranglers (Zone 8 – Berthoud, CO) riding HighLoandInBetween provided by Jim Dudley Quarter Horses
  • NRHA Future Intermediate Reining – Individual Champion
    Benjamin Balow from Arizona Sliders Reining Team (Zone 8 – Scottsdale, AZ) riding Mickey provided by Schwarz Reining
  • Varsity Open Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Olivia Willeke from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH) riding Lucy provided by OK 007
  • Future Novice Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Lauren Pursley from Texas High Riders (Zone 7 – North Zulch, TX) riding Buddy provided by West Texas A&M University
  • Future Intermediate Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Izzy Barth from Watkins Equestrian (Zone 5 – Canfield, OH) riding Pete provided Halvorson Ranch
  • Future Beginner Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Jada Mark from IIIR Stars Equestrian Team (Zone 4 – Portal, GA) riding Buddy provided West Texas A&M University
  • Varsity Intermediate Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Rylee Aurand from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH) riding Lucy from OK007
  • JV Beginner Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Addison Taylor from IIIR Stars Equestrian Team (Zone 4 – Portal, GA) riding Slicker from West Texas A&M University
  • JV Novice Horsemanship – Individual Champion
    Rette Solomon from Cedar Ridge Equestrian (Zone 1 – Barre, VT) riding Bob from West Texas A&M University
  • Champion Western Rider
    Olivia Willeke from KM Equestrian (Zone 5 – Findlay, OH)
  • Champion Crossover Rider (Huntseat and Western)
    Meghan Moran from Hillside Meadows (Zone 1 – Graton, MA)

About IEA:Celebrating its 15th Anniversary year, the IEA has more than 13,500 middle and high school student-riders across the United States. The IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students and is open to public and private schools and barn teams.  There is no need for a rider to own a horse because the IEA supplies a mount and tack to each equestrian for competitions.  Its purpose is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, to generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to equestrian competition at the middle and secondary school levels.  The IEA is open to public schools, private schools, and barn teams.  For more information, please

Myron Leff
IEA Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer
614-460-3532  |

Kimber Whanger
IEA Communications Coordinator
614-542-9415  |

The National Reining Horse Association is not responsible for information contained in this press release. Please contact the author or submitting organization for further information, requests or questions.