West Springfield, MA was the site of the 2014 IEA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS this past weekend and the CF Topflight Equestrian Team from Murfreesboro was one of the top 22 middle school teams in the country vying for the national title. After the points were tallied at the end of the weekend, the Topflight team took the title of National Champions for the middle school division.
Founded in 2002, the Interscholastic Equestrian Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and improve the quality of the equestrian sport and competition to middle and high school students. With over 10,000 riders competing on more than 880 teams across the United States in the 2013-2014 season, the recognition of National Champions is quite an accomplishment.
The CF Topflight team, coached by Brittany Lehmann and Judson Smith of Murfreesboro, was established just last year, beginning with a middle school English riding team. Last year, that team finished 13th at the National Championships. This year, the team has grown to include a High School English riding team, along with a High School and Middle School Western riding team. “We were so excited to be going to Nationals again this year,” states Lehmann. “We just wanted to improve from last year’s results and end up in the top 10 this year. It was amazing to win it all and be named the National Champions.”
The unique aspect of these competitions is that none of the riders are allowed to use their own horses or tack. Instead, in a manner which mimics that of the college-level competition, the horses are randomly drawn by the riders just prior to showing. This structure is designed to equalize variables in the competition and test the true horsemanship and abilities of the competitors.
The riders that competed for the team at the National Championships consisted of 8th grader Abigail Newton of Murfreesboro, 8th grader Olivia Owen of Nashville and 6th grader Grace Hardee of Smyrna. Other middle school team members include Samantha Crosson of Smyrna, Rachel Downs of Murfreesboro, Sidney More of Franklin and Chapel Bell of Lebanon.
For more information about the CF Topflight Equestrian Team, visit www.topflightequestrian.com or call 615-796-5215. For information about the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, visit www.rideiea.org.