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Saddle Seat Has Been Approved By IEA For 2010–2011 Year

IEA has officially announced that saddle seat is approved as an emerging discipline of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, and teams are starting to form all over the United States. Hundreds of teams and thousands of members have enjoyed participating in IEA hunt seat and western competitions for the past eight years, but this will be the first year for the saddle seat offerings.

The mission of IEA is to introduce students in private and public middle and secondary schools (primarily ages 11 through 19) to equestrian sports, to develop understanding and appreciation of equestrian sports through organized student competitions, to provide students with organized competitive events and to provide additional equine educational opportunities. Through the IEA, students may also have the opportunity to earn scholarships towards their college education. 

The objectives of IEA are:

·    To promote the equestrian as an athlete

·    To provide students with organized competitive opportunities.

·    To introduce new riders to equine sports.

·    To promote the IEA among middle, and secondary schools.

·    To provide students with opportunities for further education equine sports and other equine-related matters.

·    To encourage liaison with USEF, IHSA and other interested bodies

·    To provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated mounted and non-mounted equestrian programs.

·    To establish and enforce IEA rules, standards and policies

·    To evolve with the continuing progress of equestrian sports.

·    To generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to the horse industry and all segments thereof.

Forming a team is easy "you need at least three students for an upper school or middle school team. Teams can form within your own barn or you can help promote saddle seat outside of your barn by contacting local schools. The IEA has everything spelled out for you, and it's a great way to expand riding opportunities," said Lark R. Henry.

Not only will the IEA help promote the growth of saddle seat riding around the country, but it will also bring a new format for youths to participate in saddle seat competitions. "This is going to bring saddle seat to a whole new level by making it affordable. It will open a new outlet by allowing riders to get back into showing again without spending a fortune," said Bille Rae Graham of Royal Wind Farm. Graham also coaches an IEA hunt seat team and is the current coach for Marshall University Equestrian Team in Huntington, W.Va. Graham concluded, "This will also help riders to be seen by college recruiters."

Graham will be forming her own IEA Saddle Seat team and is happy to assist or answer any question regarding organizing teams throughout Zone 3 (DE, MD, WV, VA, NC) and Zone 5 (KY, OH, IN, IL, MI). Bille Rae Graham can be reached by emailing or phone (304) 208-3130. 

How It Works:

1. The IEA was founded on the principle that any middle school or high school student should be able to participate in horse shows, regardless of their financial status or riding level.

2. The IEA attempts to eliminate the expenses of students owning horses and allows more students to compete. Students ride horses that are furnished by the host(s) barn and chosen by drawing lots.

3. The use of personal tack is not allowed and limited schooling is permitted. The theory behind this structure is to equalize variables of the competition and test the horsemanship of the contestants.

4. Classes range from walk/trot to walk/trot/canter for first year students to the Varsity Open Division for the more experienced riders that have shown at the world level and in competitions such as Team USA. 

In this first, formulative year, IEA memberships will be discounted for saddle seat teams and riders. The IEA structure and format will extend to saddle seat competitions held from September through April, and top point earners will receive national awards, prizes and scholarships. 

To learn more about IEA, visit More information regarding saddle seat will be posted on the web site in early August; for immediate information please contact Lark R. Henry, IEA Saddle Seat Coordinator, (239) 592-1033,, or

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