The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) kicks off the 2017 Hunt Seat National Finals at the Virginia Horse Center on Friday, April 21. The competition will run through Sunday, April 23. Nearly 400 of the nation’s leading IEA Middle School and High School equestrians will converge in Lexington at the horse center’s Anderson Coliseum to compete for top honors. The student riders, in grades 6-12, will travel from across the United States to participate in this competition. Riders will compete in Hunt Seat Equitation classes over fences and on the flat throughout the weekend. Although its only a short drive from Roanoke, the show also will be available via livestream on EqSportsNet if you don’t feel like going out this soggy weekend.
Riders will compete in Hunt Seat Equitation Classes, over fences and on the flat, throughout the weekend. The format requires that riders compete in unfamiliar tack on unfamiliar mounts; therefore, they draw their horses the day of competition and enter the arena after a brief, if any, warm up.
Judging each of the team and individual Hunt Seat classes will be Rachel Kennedy from Brookeville, Maryland and Melanie Smith Taylor from Germanton, Tennessee. Kennedy began riding at the age of 3 outside of Philadelphia at Jack Trainor’s Here and There Farm. Following a successful junior career, she rode to seven AHSA Horse of the Year titles along with numerous state titles as a professional. In 1995, Kennedy moved to Maryland and started her own business — ESP Farm. She has trained and shown numerous hunters and jumpers to championships and Grand Prix wins on the on the USEF “AA” Circuit at shows such as the Winter Equestrian Festival, NAJYRC, Capital Challenge, Devon, Ocala, Washington International, Upperville, Vermont Summer Festival, and Fairfield.
Melanie Smith Taylor also brings a wealth of experience to the IEA National Finals. Taylor became one of only two riders to ever win the Triple Crown of Show Jumping — the American Invitational, the International Jumping Derby, and the American Gold Cup — and the only person to win all three on the same horse. After winning the World Cup Final in 1982, she was named the U.S. Olympic Committee Sportswoman of the Year and inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Two years later, she capped off her show-jumping career with a team gold medal in the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Today, Taylor serves the horse world as a clinician, a television broadcaster for major events, including the Olympics and World Championships, and a recognized judge for hunters, jumpers and hunter seat equitation. She is also the author of Riding With Life, a comprehensive training guide detailing her unique program for setting horse and rider up for success.
The IEA Western National Finals at will be held on June 30 through July 2 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where nearly 200 of the nation’s leading middle school and high school Western equestrians will have their chance to compete in team and individual competitions in western horsemanship and reining.
Friday, April 24
6:00 AM Schooling of horses
7:30 AM Varsity Open Draw and Course Walk
8:30 AM–5 PM (approximate) Competition
Saturday, April 25
6:30 AM Schooling of horses
8:00 AM Varsity Open Draw and Course Walk
8:30 AM–2:00 PM (approximate) Competition
2:00 PM Varsity Open Championship Class followed by Award of IEA Leading Hunt Seat Rider
3:00 PM Parade of Teams (All IEA teams, coaches and riders scheduled to appear in arena.)
3:20 PM IEA Lifetime Achievement Award (Adult)
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (approximate) Competition
Sunday, April 26
6:00 AM Schooling of horses
7:30 AM Holy Innocents Horsemanship Test Finals
8:00 AM Open and Immediate
9:00 AM–12:00 PM (approximate) Hunt Seat Team Semi-Finals
12:00 PM–3:00 PM (approximate) Hunt Seat Team Finals Competition
3:00 PM Awards Ceremony