Over 400 of the nation's leading middle school and high school equestrians will converge at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agriculture Center, on Thursday, April 22 through Sunday, April 25 to compete for top honors in Hunt Seat classes in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) National Finals. The student riders, in grades 4 through 12, will travel from across the United States to participate in the competition.
Of the 1,209 high school and middle school Hunt Seat teams from eleven zones across the country, over 400 riders will be represented at this year's event. Even during this COVID-19 challenging year, riders and teams competed at over 800 Hunt Seat horse shows during the 2020-2021 school year. The teams and individuals that accumulated the highest number of points within IEA Regions competed at Regional competitions; those winners went on to compete at Zone Finals, and then those champions qualified for the National Finals – besting more than 9,600 Hunt Seat riders this season.
IEA utilizes a draw-based form of competition, similar to collegiate riding programs, whereby riders are furnished with an unfamiliar horse and tack on the day of competition. Riders will compete in Hunt Seat Equitation classes over fences and on the flat after a brief, if any, warm-up. This “blind-draw” format levels the playing field and challenges riders to adapt quickly to their horse.
Judging this year’s Finals competition will be United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) “R” rated judges Mary Knowlton from Freehold, New Jersey, and Rita Timpanaro from Smithtown, New York.