May 04, 2024

Camaraderie is the Common Theme that Brings IEL Teams Together

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
The Flying Potatoes. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

Aiken, S.C.—May 4—Talk with any of the coaches or riders of the eight USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) clubs that make up the 12 IEL teams competing in the inaugural USEA Interscholastic Eventing Championship this weekend and one theme has been constant across the board—camaraderie.

Arianna Almeida has had an IEL club at her Five Pines Farm, located in Purcellville, Virginia, since the program’s inception in 2020. She brought a team of four riders to Stable View to compete in the Championship, and one of those riders, Addison Brost, has been with her since the team’s creation four years ago.

“It feels like I'm part of something much bigger than it was,” said Brost of this first-ever Championship. “I think it's so amazing to be around people your age and be able to relate to them in so many different ways.”

Brost, 15, has been using the competition this weekend, which also facilitates the USEA Intercollegiate Championship, as an opportunity to connect with different colleges. Almeida is fully on board with that plan.

“I love that this transcends from high school into college, and it shows even the middle school kids that there's a direction and a path forward with riding in college,” she said. “I am a huge proponent of education. I think education is super important. I think that kids can be in this industry, but I tell all of them, please go to college. Get a degree. If something happens, you have something to fall back on. If you don't want to do this as your full-time job, you have something to fall back on. I think this shows them that there is a way to still ride in college and that there's sort of a pathway forward.”

Jake Tessler, member of the GWIF Groupies. USEA/Annan Hepner photo

Jake Tessler was a part of the purple-clad Go With It Farm Groupies IEL team that has taken over the grounds at Stable View.

“It's definitely more fun than a regular horse trial!” shared Tessler. “Competitions can feel a little individual where you are just competing with your horse. Our group always kind of competes as a barn together so having something like the IEL where we can compete as a team is really great.”

Go With It Farm, based out of Canton, Georgia, is led by Halliea Milner. Milner said creating an IEL team and adding this year’s Championship to their show schedule was a no-brainer.

“The championship vibe here is so cool,” she said. “It’s so inspirational to see all the kids doing their thing together and bonding. You’ll never see the kids happier than when they're doing that piece of it. There's just no reason not to encourage your kids to get together and have something that they can bond over. This is such an individualized sport. We're really team-oriented anyways, but this is just really a cool way to be a team.”

One of those ways the GWIF Groupies are maximizing the team spirit is by making sure they are there to support each of their fellow team members as much as possible. For Tessler, that meant getting a little creative with his daily schedule.

“This morning I was writing down my times for what I want to do, and it was definitely a little tricky moving around everything so that I could go and watch my friends, but I got it all done,” he said. “We had a really fun time cheering each other on.”

Mel Long rode for River Run Eventing. USEA/Annan Hepner photo

When Meredith Wilkes Tipton of Hernando, Mississippi, heard about the creation of the IEL program, she immediately started a team within her River Run Eventing barn family.

“We saw the Intercollegiate program and Championship and were hoping that they would one day do this,” she said in reference to the IEL Championship. “It’s so fun. It gives the riders something else to ride for—finish for your team!

“The IEL builds camaraderie in an individual sport,” she continued. “I mean, they already want to cheer for their friends, but this makes it more important. You want to be there. Not just for the scores, but for the whole team spirit. It just makes it real fun, and it's brought the kids together.”

Mel Long had been riding with River Run for eight years now. Even as a tenured member of Tipton’s program, she knew she could benefit a lot from participating in the barn’s IEL team.

“I wanted to take part in it because I wanted to get to know the other girls a little better,” said Long. “To get to spend some quality time with them just means a lot to me.”

Kaarthik Sribalusu is proud to be a part of the River Mist Eventing IEL team. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

The River Mist Eventing Team has two teams representing this year and Kaarthik Sribalusu is proud to be on one of them. The former polo player has only been eventing for a few years now, but he has loved the team atmosphere at River Mist Equestrian. He felt the IEL Championship has allowed him to experience that true team feeling, all while nurturing his naturally competitive nature.

“I really like the teamwork—everybody working together, and everybody cheering each other on,” he said. “We already do that at regular shows, but it's just so much extra here. I'm very competitive. So this extra competition makes it even better! This has been a lot of fun.”

“Our barn is a big family,” said River Mist trainer Jen Scherrens. “We have our adults; we have our Alumni competing; we have our IEL team. It’s been a big party, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Interscholastic competition wraps up tomorrow, Sunday, May 5, at Stable View. In addition to a champion being crowned, one team will also be awarded the coveted Spirit Award for displaying the most team spirit across the grounds throughout the competition. Team Willow South Eventing A currently leads the field, but with some competitors wrapping up their jumping phases tomorrow there is plenty of opportunity for the leaderboards to change.

Helpful Links:

Follow the USEA event coverage on social media!

Facebook | Instagram | Threads | TikTok

About the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL)

In August 2020, the USEA Board of Governors approved the creation of the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) as an official program of the USEA. The mission of IEL is to unite junior riders who are in the 5th—12th grade and provide a supportive community through which students can continue to pursue their riding interests. A group of junior members in the 5th—12th grade who share a common bond, such as the same barn, school, Pony Club, or other connection, can register with the USEA as an IEL Affiliate. The USEA Board of Governors recently approved an inaugural IEL Championship to kick-off in 2024 at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina, which will be held in conjunction with the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships on May 4-5, 2024. Click here to learn more about the Interscholastic Eventing League.

The USEA would like to thank Kerrits and Horse & Country for sponsoring the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League.

Jun 14, 2024 Eventing News

Eventing Breaks Joins As 2024 USEA Member Rewards Partner

The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is happy to have Eventing Breaks as a 2024 Member Rewards Partner. Eventing Breaks offers equestrian enthusiasts trips away to some of the top international events around the globe. Packages encompass ticketing, accommodation, travel, and access to rider meet-and-greets, course walks, and previews.

Jun 14, 2024 Interscholastic

Check in with the Team Challenge Champions of the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League

2024 has already been a pivotal year for the USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) with the introduction of the USEA IEL Championship, which saw 42 competitors join forces to create 12 teams that went head-to-head at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina, early last month.

Jun 13, 2024 Eventing News

Quick Links: June 15-16

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.

Jun 13, 2024 Appreciation

'The Best $125 I Ever Spent.' Emily Graeser and Comic Relief Achieve Century Ride at Hunt Club Farms

Emily Graeser just chuckles when someone asks her if she has considered switching to straight dressage now that she is 84 years young. “I think to myself, yeah right,” she said with a laugh. “Eventing is an addiction; once you start, you can’t do anything else.”

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA

Official Shockwave of the USEA