A total of 38 USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) team challenges are scheduled to take place in 2021, and the first event to host an IEL team challenge was the Ocala Winter I Horse Trials at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Florida.
Organized by Megan Gardiner and Emily Holmes, the first IEL team challenge took place on February 11-14 and had five teams and 25 competitors. The Area V team with a dog as their mascot, Team Garth, brought home the win from the first-ever IEL team challenge with a team score of 96.39.
Coached by Rebecca Brown, the members of Team Garth who competed in the Ocala Winter I Horse Trials included Chloe Johnson riding Chilli Bean in the Modified division, Kenna Jensen riding Gowiene in the Preliminary Rider division, Camdyn Rahe riding Fashion Forward in the Preliminary Rider division, and Brooks Searcy riding FE Chiara Mia in the Junior Training Rider division.
“Competing in the first IEL [team challenge] was an amazing experience,” said Johnson. “We were all together when we got the notification that we had won, and we were all incredibly proud of each other.” Johnson competed Chili Bean (Chilli Morning x Daisy), Joe Meyer's New Zealand Sport Horse mare, in the Modified division. Johnson explained, “Ocala Winter I was my first Modified with Chilli Bean. It was our second recognized [horse trial] together and we started off by beating our previous dressage score on a 33.9. We had one unfortunate rail in show jumping due to a rider error but went double clear on cross-country.”
Making the switch from side saddle to eventing, Johnson shared how she first got introduced to the sport. “I started riding 12 years ago with Becky Brown at a summer camp. I fell in love with riding, but Becky did not have any other openings in camp that summer, so I went to a saddle seat barn for their camp. I rode saddle seat at that barn for a few years before deciding I wanted to jump. I went back to Becky Brown’s program and eventually got my first pony and then my first horse before moving up to Rebecca Brown’s program.”
“I really enjoyed being a part of a team,” said Jensen, who competed her own Dutch Warmblood mare, Gowiene (Lexicon x Oweine), in the Preliminary Rider division. “We all ride with Rebecca Brown. We have a mascot, and his name is Garth!”
A high school senior, Jensen first got involved with eventing after her experience in the hunter ring. “I started three-day eventing when I got bored with hunters,” said Jensen. “All of the girls on the team are fabulous. I am so excited to have a fun season with them. I hope they continue IEL next year! I will be too old next year, so I am so happy to be a part of it while I can.”
Although Rahe was the drop score due to the Holsteiner mare, Fashion Forward (Carracci 2 x Gamine du Jaquet) injuring herself, that didn’t stop her from having a memorable experience. Rahe shared, “It was still a lot of fun to be on a team with my friends and watching them ride. It felt great to be on the winning team and [to be the] first IEL winners."
Eventing runs in the Rahe family, and Rahe shared, “I got into three-day eventing from my mom. She started eventing in college. When I was 11 I really wanted to do three-day eventing, [and] within my first cross-country school I fell in love with the sport.”
The second-place team was the Wilmerding/Area II Young Rider Advancement Program (YRAP) Scramble Team, who finished on a team score of 121.7. This team was made up of Caitlin O'Roark riding What the Devil in the Modified division, Juliana Cessar riding Cheranimo in the Modified division, and Julianne Elliott riding Mystic Hazzard in the Preliminary Rider division.
Rounding out the top three teams was IEL Team Backyardigans from Area I, finishing on a team score of 131.7 for third place. This team was made up of Amanda Gardiner riding Miller's Law in the Preliminary Rider division, Maddy Hartsock riding Global Inncenzo DHI in the Preliminary Rider division, Audrey Littlefield riding Prince Renan in the Open Training division, and Maddy Hartsock on her second horse, Westwick Rebel in the Modified division.
In addition to the Ocala Winter I Horse Trials, Sporting Days Horse Trials, Texas Rose Horse Park Horse Trials, and Poplar Place Horse Trials have also recently hosted IEL team challenges. To view the team challenge results, please click here.
Refresh on the rules of the program by reviewing the Interscholastic Eventing League Guidelines.
Start planning your season by checking out the 2021 Interscholastic Team Challenge calendar.
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 bring together junior riders who are in the 7-12th grade and provide a supportive community through which students can continue to pursue their riding interests. A group of junior members in the 7th-12th grade who share a common bond (same barn, same school, same Pony Club, etc.) register with the USEA as an interscholastic team. Click here to learn more about the Interscholastic Eventing League.
Tamie Smith’s year has been nothing short of action-packed as she packed up all 25 of her competition horses and made her way to the East Coast for the first part of the year before hopping on a jet to Tokyo where she served as the U.S. team reserve for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She then stayed overseas and competed abroad for a little while before returning home to the West Coast. While this year has been full of opportunities to show, her aspirations are bigger than just competition. The 2021 Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year has been full steam ahead chasing goals in both her riding career as well as in her impact on the sport’s future.
Get to know each United States Eventing Association (USEA) Areas a little better in this new series, Meet the Areas! This month’s feature is USEA Area I which is comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Founded in the 1960s, Area I was the birthplace of the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA) which was founded in 1959 and would later evolve into the USEA in 2001. In 2021 just under 800 members made up the membership count in Area I.
Trainers, riders, parents, and more are in for a real treat when the all-new USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is officially released. Those participating in the 2022 USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) Symposium at Barnstaple South Farm in Ocala, Florida on February 8-9 will be the first to set eyes on this all-encompassing guide that has been two years in the making.
The USEA established the Young Event Horse (YEH) program in 2004 to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. While the goal of the YEH program is to identify horses that will be successful at the four- and five-star levels, horses with the potential for lower-level success are also showcased by the program.