Lexington, Ky. – April 15, 2016 – The 2016 Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) National Finals will give top riders from across the country the opportunity to not only ride for championship titles but also to greatly expand their equestrian knowledge at a four-day, free speaker symposium.

The 2016 IEA National Hunt Seat and Western Finals will be held April 20-24 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, with the free speaker symposium running Thursday, April 21 through Sunday, April 24.

The highly-knowledgable speakers will be discussing a number of topics geared toward IEA riders, parents, coaches and equine professionals. The speaker line-up will include Wendy Wills, Lisa Ecklund, Candice King, Christy Landwehr, Sarah Coleman, Bernie Taurig, Diane Lesher, Robert Cacchione, Terra Schroeder, Patti Colbert and the United States Pony Club.

All seminar sessions will be held in the North Exhibit Hall of the Alltech Arena.Click here to view the full IEA Speaker Symposium schedule or visit www.rideiea.org.  

Many sessions will be offered more than once throughout the week to give competing riders the opportunity to work around their show schedule. Topics covered will include all of the following:

  • How to get on a College Equestrian Team; Q&A with the College Equestrian Expert – Wendy Wills – Wendy is the Owner and Director of College Equestrian Consulting (CEC) which works exclusively with high school equestrians in pursuit of equestrian opportunities in college. Wendy’s commitment to assisting prospective student athletes was born out of the bewilderment she felt when her daughter decided that she wanted to continue to ride in college. Recognizing that other families were experiencing the same challenges navigating the college equestrian landscape, she was determined to develop a better avenue. Wendy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from UCLA.
  • The Mindful Equestrian: Achieve Mindfulness and Focus for Riding Success – Lisa Ecklund – Lisa is an equestrian performance coach and a hunter/jumper clinician and trainer with over 35 years of experience as a private trainer and member of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), an assistant professor in equine science and management, an Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) coach and an IEA event manager. Her personal journey and passion for mindfulness and self-awareness has led her to develop a unique style of teaching and training. She blends traditional training techniques with mindfulness training and performance coaching.
  • Study Session for Written Horsemanship Test; Riding Centers & USPC – Make Your Coaching Job Easier; Opportunities Available with Pony Club – United States Pony Club – The United States Pony Clubs (USPC), Inc. is the largest equestrian educational organization in the world. The cornerstones of our foundation are education, safety, sportsmanship, stewardship and FUN. Members learn riding and the care of horses through mounted habits and values instilled through horsemanship will apply to every part of a member’s life. Coaches – join us for a discussion on how to make your coaching job easier with lesson plans and curriculum. Riders – come for a fun interactive study guide for the IEA Holy Innocents’ Horsemanship Test. Welcome all to learn about the numerous opportunities that Pony Club offers! 
  • Performing Through Horsemanship – Candice King – Candice made her debut on the American Grand Prix Association (AGA) circuit in 1989. In the past 27 years she has become an accomplished International Grand Prix veteran, representing the U.S on many Nations Cup and Super League Teams. Among her many career highlights, King was the top placed American at the 2001 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, and in 1998 became the first American to win the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 30 years. She went on to earn a spot on the long list for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
  • Careers in the Equestrian Industry; Professionalism – Christy Landwehr – Christy has been active in the horse industry for over 30 years with vast experience in marketing and business. She is the CEO for the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA), a non-profit 501(c)3 whose purpose is to promote excellence in safety throughout the horse industry. Through CHA, Christy is a Master Level Instructor and Equine Facility Manager. She founded, competed on and coached the University of Colorado at Boulder equestrian team. Christy is and AQHA Professional Horseman, a member of the Aurora Horsemen’s Association and is on the board of the Colorado Horse Council.
  • Writing Your Way to a Career in the Equine Industry – Sarah Coleman – Sarah starting writing in Lexington in 2004 as a freelance writer for several equine and farming magazine. She then transitioned to roles helping local college and high schools with their equine programs before becoming the Director of Education and Development for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. Recently, Sarah launched Topline Communications with her friend Jennifer Roytz. She also sits on the Masters in Equestrian Trust board and is the secretary and treasurer of the Kentucky Hunter Jumper Association. She currently has a 4-year-old off-track Thoroughbred that she is training to be a hunter.
  • The History & Evolution of the Forward Riding System, Q&A; U.S. Equestrian Team Under the Coaching of Bert D’Nemethy; A Tribute to the Thoroughbred Sporthorse – Bernie Taurig – Bernie is a true horseman recognized not only for his riding achievements, but also for his gifts as a teacher and clinician. His talent for instruction goes back to his roots where he was fortunate enough to have been educated by some of the very best Master Instructors this country and the world have to offer. After amassing over 50 years worth of training and riding techniques and experiences with thousands of horses, Bernie is driven to give back to the sport that has given him so much fulfillment and success.
  • IEA Coach, Trainer and Equine Business Insurance – Diane Lesher – Diane is the President of Equisure, Inc. located in Aurora, Colorado, a specialty equine insurance agency. Diane has been with Equisure for 19 years and loves the advantages of working with the variety of customers the horse industry provides. Her customers include large equestrian associations such as the IEA, novice equestrians and all horse-lovers in between. Equisure specializes in providing and creating programs to meet the needs of trainers, clubs, horse shows and equine associations. Bring your questions and come discuss real scenarios that equestrians face.
  • Collegiate Riding – From Club Sports to Equine Studies – Bob Cacchione – Robert ‘Bob’ Cacchione is the award-winning executive director and founder of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA). In 1967, as a freshman at Fairleigh-Dickinson University, he launched its egalitarian mission of making riding available to all college students no matter their skill or economic level. This year, IHSA will present the 44th edition of their National Championships, bringing together more than 450 of the top college riders and best two dozen teams to compete for such individual and team titles as the USEF Cacchione Cup, whose winners include USEF four-time Equestrian of the Year, Beezie Madden (Southern Seminary) and US Olympic Show Jumping Gold medalist Peter Wylde (Tufts). Without Bob Cacchione’s inaugural help of the IEA, the organization would not be where it is today.
  • USEF Programs – Terra Schroeder – Terra is a Director of National Affiliates at the United States Equestrian Federation. She has worked at the Federation since 2008 after graduating from William Woods University with a Bachelor of Science degree and double majors in Equestrian Science and Business Administration. Outside of the office, she enjoys working with the local 4-H Horse Club and riding as much as possible.
  • State of the Horse Industry/Time to Ride – Patti Colbert – Patti is a “hands-on” promoter for the horse industry. Patti held the position of Senior Director of the American Quarter Horse Association’s Foundation raising millions of dollars for scholarship and equine research. In 2006, Patti’s company managed the Mustang Heritage Foundation where she created and launched the Extreme Mustang Makeover events leading to the adoption of more than 5,000 wild horses. Patti helped to create “Time to Ride” events and programs, including the “100 Day Horse Challenge”. In 2014 Patti received the “Equine Innovator of the Year” from the American Horse Publication Association for her efforts to change and grow the industry.

Founded in 2002, the IEA has more than 12,500 middle and high school student-riders across the United States.  The IEAwas organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students and is open to public and private schools and barn teams. There is no need for a rider to own a horse because the IEA supplies a mount and tack to each equestrian for competitions.  Its purpose is to set minimum standards for competition, provide information concerning the creation and development of school associated equestrian sport programs, to generally promote the common interests of safe riding instruction and competition and education on matters related to equestrian competition at the middle and secondary school levels.

More than 600 estimated, qualified riders will compete, both as teams and as individuals, for national championship titles in over fences, under saddle, horsemanship and reining classes throughout the four days at the Kentucky Horse Park.

To learn more about the IEA and the 2016 IEA National Finals, please visit www.rideiea.org.