From left to right are Caroline Severa of Clarion University, Washington & Jefferson College Head Coach Becki Bloom and Katherine Halo of the University of Pittsburgh. Seen here last March 19th the Clarion and Pitt Captains can claim to have ridden for Bloom's Western Pennsylvania IEA team prior to heading off to college.


At a recent 'Equestrian Talent Search' event in Lynchburg, Virginia this writer was asked by someone of high school age who lives in New Jersey how one goes about joining the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA). She said she heard that you could not start a team unless you had three people. She did not know if these three people had to be at different levels. She also wasn't sure how one 'signed up' to join the IEA. I told her that one can easily contact the IEA through their web site and learn exactly how to become a member.

A few weeks later the IEA launched their new web site (with the same URL as their old one, In contrast to the previous version the new IEA site has far more photos and information, with the layout easier to navigate. The only items not present that the IEA may want to consider adding are a tab for "Frequently Asked Questions" and including the list of Zone Chairpersons (currently found under the "About" tab) under the "Zones" heading as it leads to not only the contact information for each Zone chair but also many of the individual IEA Zone websites.

The "Forms" tab ( leads to the actual rider and team membership applications, though it was unclear to this writer what happens after someone fills out the first page of the form and presses 'continue' (since this writer is not joining the IEA, he left many of the spaces for things like name and address blank, which resulted in an error message asking him to go back and fill in the missing information). This writer decided to get in touch with IEA Executive Director Roxane Lawrence to see whom within the organization might answer a few questions about joining the IEA, about getting involved if one lives in an area where the IEA has not yet expanded to, and about registering and completing the necessary paperwork to make sure there is nothing to worry about upon arriving at a show other than actually competing. Rather than refer me to another within the organization (now entering it's tenth full season) Lawrence said she would be happy to answer my questions.

Campus Equestrian: If a rider wants to join the IEA, and that rider lives in an area where there are already a fair amount of IEA teams, should the rider seek out a specific team or apply in general? Will the IEA match a rider to a team?

Roxane Lawrence: The IEA does not want to specifically recommend any team or coach over another since everyone has individual needs and preferences. But if the rider is seeking a team in their area we now have a directory of IEA teams on our new website. Within the 'ZONES' tab in each active zone there is a listing of IEA teams with city and state plus contact information (Soon there will be additional information too as to the discpline offered). This web-based resource is a great way for riders to learn about pre-existing teams.

And a rider can certainly encourage their riding instructor/coach to start a new one! No need to switch to someone else, just get your own barn to start a team too.

CE: If a rider wants to join the IEA, and that rider lives in an area where the IEA does NOT yet have a presence, what should this rider do?

RL: First, they should contact the IEA membership office (at and indicate their interest. It is possible that there are new teams forming, but nothing finalized yet and/or we can get them all in contact with one another. (Another option:) The rider first has to convince their coach into being interested. Then if the coach can inspire two other coaches to start teams (total of three teams) in that new area, then they can be off and running! With three teams in a central area, they can host and co-host shows together with minimal travel or expense. If they are only ONE team, they can still travel to (IEA shows in other parts of the country).

Additional note: Every zone is guaranteed ONE slot at Nationals, so small/new zones have a pretty easy shot at going to Nationals! This is one benefit of being one of the start-up teams in a new zone. The guaranteed slot is in IEA rules to help encourage the new zones to get active!

CE: The IEA allows riders and teams to cross Regional and Zone boundaries for most (but not all) shows. Is there a limit as to how far one can travel to compete in an out-of-area IEA competition?

RL: Actually, the IEA allows any team to show limit to distance. But...the issue is that not every area can accomodate outside riders. Many of the larger zones have full regions that can only host teams/riders within their own region (Regions are required to accomodate at least one representative/class from every team in their region). These entry prioritities often mean that shows do not have room to take on riders outside of their area.

(Editor's Note: The many schedule pages within the IEA web site - which are listed by Zone - show information regarding which shows allow riders from one region or zone to cross into their territory and compete. For example if someone visits the Zone 1 shows page the Walnut Hill Farm show scheduled for Sunday, September 25th states "Zone 1 Region 3 Only, Upper and Middle School" under the heading "Competition Type." By contrast several entries under Zone 2 use the term "Priority" - meaning riders in the host team's specific region have priority in entering over those from other regions and zones. Yet in these cases someone from another Zone has a chance to enter if they are prompt at signing up for the event.)

CE: If someone wants to start an IEA team is there a minimum number of riders they need to do so? Do they have to fill a specific number of divisions to be allowed to compete?

RL: The (potential team) must have three riders in the same age category (upper school/middle school) to create a team (So one middle school rider plus two upper school riders does not equal a team). It does not matter what class they ride in or their ability levels. Obviously the team will not be very competitive if all of their riders are in the same ability level, but since riders can also compete as individuals there is still plenty of compeitition to be found even if teams do not have much variety in riding abilities.

CE: How many regular season shows per school year may a region host? In the IHSA there is a limit of ten but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the IEA.

RL: Theoretically they can host as many as they would like. With a five show limit for each rider (on an individual basis) eventually they would run out of eligible riders that could still show.

Teams in (their) first year do not have to host. Teams in second year have to co-host ONE show. Teams in third year must host one or co-host two shows. We currently do not have restrictions on how many a school may host but if they appear to be hosting too many so that other shows couldn't thrive, then their request for additional shows could be denied. All show applications must be approved by the office plus the zone chair oversees the overall calendar in each area.

CE: On the newly-redesigned IEA website there are a series of forms under the “forms” heading. It appears this is where riders, parents and coaches officially sign up. Can you confirm that each parent is an ‘Adult Contributing Member?’ It is not clear exactly what that form means to outsiders. Also is paperwork submitted electronically or is it mailed?

RL: Parents are not members of IEA UNLESS they fill out a "contributing member" form. This gives them the rights of, etc. The main reason a parent would be a contributing member is so that they can act on behalf of a team. A team can designate (on their membership form) a contributing member who has all the administrative rights of the coach. This person can do paperwork and communications on behalf of the team (often to help out the coach who would rather be in the ring). This makes sure that anyone communicating on behalf of the team is familiar with the rules and regulations of the association, just as the coach must be.

All forms are submitted to the IEA office for processing. Members can join by printing and filling out a form or they can electronically submit and pay with a credit card. BUT...all members have to send a hard copy with original signatures of the IEA Waiver. The Waiver is now included in the application, but the completed form with original signatures must be sent to the membership office in order to "activate" the member so they are eligible to compete.

CE: How long does it take from the time someone signs up to join an existing team within the IEA that all the paperwork is processed and the rider is eligible to ride? How long might it take for a new rider or new team?

RL: Our forms indicate that 15 business days should be allowed for processing. (The main issue is that some) people submit forms that are missing information or missing a signature or payment, etc. If everything comes in and is complete, it only takes a few minutes for the physical processing, but we also get "slammed" with tons of applications from August through October, so the 15 days still allows for any potential back-log too. Carefully submitted paperwork (equals) faster to process!

CE: November 15th is a big day for the IEA as it is the deadline for all paperwork for the current season. If a rider or team wants to compete at any time after that date is it correct to say they must have their paperwork submitted no later than that date?

RL: Correct...they must submit their paperwork by that deadline date. Coaches can join at any point (such as a team hiring a second coach or a new coach within the year) but riders and team applications must be received by 11/15 (This also gives the rider enough time to still get into competitions. If we allowed riders to join in February, there probably wouldn't be many shows for them to join at that point. Joining by November means there is still enough time to potentially get into five regular shows and qualify for the Regional/Zone finals).

CE: Though not all of them could likely compete at once, is there a maximum number of riders an IEA team can have at any time?

RL: No max number. Sometimes the entry limits at shows in the area may cause a team to set some restrictions (some shows, for instance, may only allow two riders in each ability level, so if your team has 10 open riders only two can show). This will usually work itself out though as not every rider is available for every show. Riders can only (compete in a total of five regular season) shows, so more riders can fill into later shows in the year. If a team gets too big, it could split into two teams...keeping in mind there is a limit to how many teams one coach can accommodate, so this should not turn into an infinite number.

Hopefully Lawrence's answers (and the tabs atop the IEA website homepage) clear up any confusion for high school and middle school-aged riders and their parents about how one becomes an IEA competitor. And if you live in New Jersey, Texas, Illinois or over a dozen other states yet to produce an IEA team but want to compete remember there may be others just like you not far away with the same thought on their minds.

---Steve Maxwell


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