June 2018 - Interscholastic Equestrian Association
Written by by Skylar Wireman
Friday, 01 June 2018 05:48
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San Diego young rider shares her IEA Finals experience.

by Skylar Wireman

Chestnut Hills Interscholastic Equestrian Association team riders were very excited to qualify our high school team and one middle school individual for the IEA Nationals this year representing Zone 10!

IEA Nationals were held at the New York State Fairgrounds in the Toyota Coliseum on April 20-22 in Syracuse, NY. It was an honor to compete in the Nationals because it is the very best of the best, and it is very hard to qualify. Only the first place Upper School Team and Individuals and the top two Middle School Teams and Individuals from Zone 10 Finals get to go to Nationals. It was an honor for our Upper School team to qualify because it was only the second year that our team has been doing IEA!

I was competing as an individual in middle school in class 4, Future Intermediate Over Fences. Only the top 18 riders from around the country were invited to compete in each class, and there were two riders from Zone 10 in my class, myself and Emma Symon. It was such a fun experience for me because I had never been to New York, and the day we arrived, it was snowing!

The feeling of stepping into the ring not really knowing the horse that you are on can be a little nerve racking, but by my second year of IEA, I had learned to just ride like I normally do and not let any nerves get in my way.


Only getting two warm-up jumps over a very short pattern truly helps me learn to adapt very quickly to each different horse. After the first round, they called five back for a work-off, and my number was called last, so I knew there was a chance I was in first place, and therefore, in the pressure seat.

As I stepped in the ring for the work off, the audience was silent, and I took a deep breath and began. After completing my work-off, I knew that I had a good round with a slightly late lead change, but I was hoping that I would stay in the top placings. As I finished, the audience was clapping loudly and cheering very enthusiastically, which made me feel very good about my round. The suspense was building as they called the placings from eighth up to first. They started calling the top five ribbons out and after they had called third place, I knew I was either going to be first or second. Then they called second and it wasn’t my number, so I knew that I had won! It felt so amazing to be the last one standing at the gate waiting for results and to have the audience cheering loudly again when I had won. It made me feel very honored to win the class!

The horse I drew, Ever, was provided by Morrisville College, and he was an amazing partner. I thought that it was really cool that this year, the first place horse in each class also got a ribbon to have on their stall door. With such an amazing partner, I was able to achieve an amazing goal. It was also a lot of fun to cheer on the rest of my teammates and the other Zone 10 riders and to see how they did on the horse they drew!

My teammates competed in the Upper School Team competition, which awards points to everyone that places in the top six in their class, and then tallies the points toward a team total. Each of the top 18 teams from around the nation is allowed one rider per class at Nationals.  

Team Aspect

Chestnut Hills was represented by Sophia Sundem,Taber Ball, Karsyn Boyd, Chloe Oyanguren, and Emilie Melnychuk, and the team ended up placing third at Nationals! They tied for second, but tie-breaker rules placed them third. Sophia, Chestnut Hills IEA High School Team Captain, says, “I love being a part of the IEA team because it puts a team aspect on an individual sport. The format of competition, competing on a strange horse, is a totally different dynamic, adding another level of complexity to riding. It’s also a great way for riders to prepare for collegiate equestrian and overall a great experience for anyone.”

Nationals was an amazing experience for all of the girls on our team and everyone had a great time supporting each other. Nationals was filled with so many great memories! I am so fortunate to be able to share such an amazing experience with a great team. We all get along so well and have a ton of fun together! Since it was our first time at Nationals and only our second year as an IEA team, we went in with low expectations, with the goal being to have fun and try our best. Everyone truly gave it their all and our hard work definitely paid off.

“Nationals way exceeded any expectations and I’m so proud of the team for giving it their all and there is nothing better than seeing all of that hard work pay off!” says Sophia. Our high school team had one senior compete at Nationals, and she was very happy that she was able to go to Nationals because it is her last year doing IEA.

Chloe, a senior on the Chestnut Hills IEA team, says “One of my favorite things about IEA is that we don’t bring our own horses. As someone who has never owned or leased a horse, showing has been a bit of a challenge, but with IEA I feel like I have found a perfect niche. I also love the team aspect of it, and I have made such great friends!”

“My most memorable moment at Nationals was getting to cheer my teammates on during their classes,” she continues. “Our team has grown so strong over these past two seasons and it was really just an exciting moment to be there supporting each other in something so big!” Sophia and Chloe also both placed in the Holy Innocents Horsemanship Test!

Coach Shayne Wireman added, “I am so proud of everyone on this team, and it was wonderful to see them do so well on such a big stage! And I love that IEA shows the entire event by live stream so everyone at home was able to watch! IEA does an amazing job with their National Finals!”

Our team wants to thank all the wonderful sponsors that provided so many amazing awards during the Finals. We received great gifts from USHJA, Tredstep, Kastel Denmark, Equestrian Team Apparel, Sore No More, Shires, The Hunting Horn, Noble Outfitters, C4, JOTT, EIS, Bridle Plates, and many more!

We hope to return next year!


Author Skylar Wireman is an accomplished junior rider who trains with her mother Shayne Wireman’s Chestnut Hills Equestrian Center in San Diego County’s Bonsall. For more information on the IEA, visit www.rideiea.org.