Team member Zoey Pacyna gets a warm welcome home after finishing sixth in last year's IEA Nationals.
Last year Fieldstone Riding Club in Moorpark decided to form and join a new kind of association. We joined the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, a league of middle and high school teams from throughout the United States, divided by zones and then into regions.
Teams compete against riders of comparable abilities in a unique format. Mounts are drawn from a hat, each rider gets only two jumps to familiarize themselves with the horse in a competition format that's similar to that used in collegiate equestrian competition. This truly tests the rider's abilities, as compared to most horse shows where riders compete on horses they have practiced with for months or years. Individual awards, as well as team honors are given. The IEA is a springboard for student athletes with NCAA Equestrian Team aspirations.
Fieldstone's IEA team, led by head trainer Michelle Pacyna, Liz McKenzie and Teal Pacyna, and junior trainer Jessica Gooding have taken the idea of a team to a whole new level. As a team last year, they decided they wanted to do more than just compete together. They broadened their horizons beyond the barn by choosing a team project to serve their community.
The team has served Thanksgiving meals to the homeless, adopted a family for Christmas and wrapped presents for charitable organizations. When fellow IEA member Claire Davis died after the tragic school shooting in Centennial, CO, the team was moved to dedicate their entire season to the memory of Claire by wearing purple ribbons on their lapels. At our recent home IEA show, there was a moment of silence in honor of Claire. To date we have collected $500 that will go to the Claire Davis Family Foundation.
The IEA season is coming to an end. Hopefully, we will be moving on to Nationals back East. If not, these kids have had a blast traveling, sightseeing and just being kids. The best group of young people you could ask to be around. They all support one another, which is very refreshing!
Well done Michelle Pacyna, well done!
Author Lisa Lutz is a barn mom at Fieldstone and "all these kids' Number 1 fan."