One of Camden’s own has brought home a national championship along with her team, Creekside Farm, under the direction of Adrian Mack and Emma Phillips.
Kayleigh Gates, 16, and her teammates worked all season qualifying and preparing for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) National Hunter Finals held in West Springfield, Ma.
Riders competed in Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences classes and Equitation on-the-flat classes throughout the weekend. The IEA format requires that riders compete in unfamiliar tack on unfamiliar mounts; therefore, they draw their horses the day of competition and enter the arena after a brief, if any, warm-up.
“This format allows for an even playing field during the competition,” Gates said. “Not a single rider knows their horse. It really show’s off your true skill and horsemanship by being able to get on anything and ride it well.”
This year, Creekside Farm won the national championship for the high school team and its middle school team was Reserve Champion.
In addition to Gates, Columbia’s Brooklin Kuipers, who works at Roger Young Stables in Camden and who began her career riding in the Camden Equine Circuit several years ago, was also a member of the championship team from Creekside Farm.
The competition in West Springfield brought together 410 of the nation's leading middle school and high school equestrians competed at the Eastern States Exposition on May 16-18 for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) National Finals. The finalists represented 1,100 teams and nearly 10,000 student-riders from eight zones throughout the United States.
Individuals and teams participated in multiple competitions during the 2013-2014 regular season shows, regional and zone finals to qualify for the IEA National Finals competition.
Founded in 2002, the IEA was organized to promote and improve the quality of equestrian competition and instruction available to middle and secondary school students. 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. For more information, please view the IEA website at:www.rideiea.com
Gates rides and trains in Camden at her family farm, The Camden Hunter Barn. She is trained by Emma Phillips of Waxhaw, N.C. Her team, Creekside Farm, is located in Irmo and members of the team travel from as far as Charlotte and Savannah to compete for the squad.
The 2014-15 IEA season begins Sept. 27 when Creekside hosts the first show of the season.