Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) Hosts Back-to-Back Western Semi-Finals Competitions

For immediate release – April 17, 2019 – Columbus, Ohio – The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) hosted two Western Semi-Finals Competitions—one in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on April 6–7 and the other in Columbus, Ohio, on April 13–14. These large competitions were made up of approximately 285 youth Western riders in grades 6–12 who qualified based on their regular and post-season results. The IEA Western Semi-Finals is the last step before heading to IEA Western National Finals in June in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby. The top six riders in individual classes and the top six teams from each Semi-Final will move on to the Finals.

Grace Rabon (IIIR Stars Equestrian Team – Future Beginner) on Scout, provided by Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Photo by Foreverworks Photography.

Semi-Finals A—Tennessee

Middle State Tennessee University (MTSU) hosted Semi-Finals A in their beautiful Miller Coliseum. Riders and teams from IEA Regions 4, 5(2), 7, and 8 gathered to vie for national qualification in both Reining and Horsemanship Classes. Seizing the Upper School Team Championship out of 12 teams was Autumn Rose Equestrian Team of Marysville, Ohio, coached by Debbie Griffith. Dare Equestrian Team of Hilliard, Ohio, coached by Linda Dare, took the Reserve Champion Team spot for Upper School. The Middle School Team Championship was won by IIIR Stars Equestrian Team of Hopkins, South Carolina, coached by Joy McMillion. Autumn Rose Equestrian Team also took home the Middle School Reserve Championship. The Champion Upper School rider was Ellexxah Maxwell (Autumn Rose Equestrian Team). The Champion Middle School rider was Cadence Eger (Autumn Rose Equestrian Team). The Reserve Champion Upper School rider was Addison Taylor (Flamekissed Equestrian Team). The Reserve Champion Middle School rider was Jenna Woody (Flamekissed Equestrian Team). The Sportsmanship Award went to Ginia McFarland (Team Untamed), and the horse of the show was ‘Mickey,’ provided by Schwarz Reining Horses of Johnstown, Ohio .

Semi-Finals B—Ohio

Equine Affaire, one of the largest horse expos in the nation, was the backdrop for IEA Semi-Finals B, which invited IEA riders and teams from Regions 1, 2, 5(1), and 11 to compete at the Ohio State Fairgrounds and Expo Center. Similar to the Semi-Finals A, riders competed in Reining and Horsemanship classes to determine which riders would move on to National Finals. Coming out on top for the Middle School Team Championships was KM Equestrian of Findlay, Ohio, coached by Katie Morehead. Saddlebrook Equestrian Team, coached by Ashley Wolf, of Schwenksville, Pennsylvania took the Reserve Championship. In a tie-breaker for Upper School Team Championship, KM Equestrian won, whlie Grier School of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, coached by Chris McElyea, took the Reserve. The Champion Upper School rider was Olivia Willeke (KM Equestrian). The Champion Middle School Rider was Abby Zawisza (KM Equestrian). The Reserve Champion Upper School rider was Macey Stevens (Watkins Equestrian Team). The Reserve Champion Middle School rider was Katherine Riley (TMC Equestrian Team). The Sportsmanship Award went to Laura Larman (North Country Horses), and the horse of the show was ‘Gremlin,’ provided by TMC Equestrian.

In addition to riding classes, IEA members also had the opportunity to take a written Horsemanship Quiz at each Semi-Finals to test their skills outside of the saddle. Nearly 60 riders participated, and awards were given to the top six placings in both Middle School and Upper School at each Semi-Finals.

IEA Western Semi-Finals was proudly supported by the following major sponsors: National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), Bob’s Custom Saddles, Equine Affaire, CINCH Jeans, Kimes Ranch, Matt Mills Reining Horses, Rod’s Western Palace, and C4 Belts.

Show officials included Judges Allen Mitchel (NRHA, AQHA, NSBA) from Michigan City, Indiana, and Kim Myers (AQHA, NRHA, NSBA) of Felon, Pennsylvania, at Semi-Finals A. Debbie Kail (AQHA, NSBA) from Scottsdale, Arizona, and Carla Wennberg (AQHA, NRHA, NSBA) from Laurinburg, North Carolina, judged Semi-Finals B. At both events, Todd Knerr was show manger, Cindy Yu was show secretary, and Jenna Kingery and Jay Lanzer were show stewards. Horses were coordinated by Ashley Wilson, and Foreverworks Photography served as official show photographer.

A complete list of results can be found at

About IEA:

Now approaching its 18th year, the IEA has nearly 14,000 members across the United States riding and coaching Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage disciplines. The non-profit (501(c)3) 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. For more information, please visit

Kimber Whanger
IEA Communications Coordinator