September 2020 - Horse People: Alana Segar
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:11
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education

Super senior steps into Interscholastic Equestrian Association Youth Advisor role.

by Kim F. Miller

Alana Segar could be called the “poster girl” for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association. Now on its 19th year and boasting 14,500 members, the IEA has a mission of creating quality, level-playing-field equestrian competition for riders in middle and high school and making equestrian sport accessible to kids whether or not they own their own horse.

 


Alana has never owned her own horse, but she’s been able to develop great horsemanship skills, experience and passion, as well as good friends, through IEA participation. “I started as soon as I could,” says Alana. That was sixth grade at the time and the association now encompasses 4th and 5th graders, too. Alana lives in the Peninsula area’s Los Altos and rides for the Woodside team that is one of two IEA teams based at the Stanford Red Barn.

 

Now a senior in high school, Alana is excited to be elected to the IEA Youth Advisory Board, representing Hunt Seat in Zone 10, which includes California and Nevada.

“The IEA Youth Board is invaluable to our organization,” states IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director Roxane Durant. “This program gives adult IEA members and leadership an avenue to hear the youth voice and to offer an opportunity for mentorship, volunteerism, and leadership growth to IEA youth members. We have found the Youth Board to be fantastic advocates for the IEA and equestrian sport and we look forward to another fun Youth Board year.”

The IEA Youth Board is structured with one student representative from each of the 11 Hunt Seat Zones, four representatives from the eight Western Regions, and two representatives from the 12 Dressage Regions. Each candidate for the 20/21 year opening submitted their application with a resume, photo, and letter of recommendation. After verifying each application, an election was held in each zone and the members of that zone elected their representative.

Alana is thrilled. She applied last year, too, and welcomes the chance to help out and weigh in on matters affecting competition in the Zone.

When she started IEA six years ago, there were no regional competitions, only the Zone championship. Significant IEA participation growth in the West accounts for that. Bigger shows mean more opportunity to make friends, but the competition can also “be a little nerve wracking,” Alana says of the pros and cons of that growth.

Being a role model to younger members and creating more team building opportunities within the zone are goals for her time on the Youth Board. “When I was younger, I looked up to the older kids so much because they were jumping and doing the Open division. I hope I can help make them love horses as much as I do.”

The first Youth Board meeting was set for late August. That’s when she and others will start getting a handle on what this year’s IEA season will look like in the midst of COVID realities. The Zone 10 season was shut down early last year, and opportunities to ride and train have been varied due to differing local restrictions on equestrian activity. Uncertainties will certainly continue through the season, but Alana is ready to make the most of however the season pans out.

Of IEA in general, Alana says, “I love being able to show without the huge cost and time commitment (of an Open show).” The IEA format requires host schools to provide the horses for all teams. Alana loves riding different horses all the time, in part because each points out different flaws to overcome in her riding. “I know I’m not good at riding fast horses, so when I pull one (in the draw) I have to remember to relax and slow down. It points out what I need to work on in my next lesson.”

In her final year of IEA competition, Alana will be contesting the highest level, Open, competition. She’s excited but not overly focused on ribbons. “I have personal goals about feeling proud of all my rounds: about taking whatever horse I am given and having a round that we can both be proud of.”

Serving on the Youth Board is a natural fit with Alana’s commitment to and enjoyment of community service. She has volunteered with the non-profit Animal Assisted Happiness in Sunnyvale for the last three or four years, helping special needs kids interact with barn yard animals.

The horsemanship savvy she’s gained through IEA is handy. She helped train some of the program’s Miniature horses, especially a few who were reluctant to load onto the trailer. “The last time they had to move locations, the owner had to walk one of the Minis by hand!” She studied Pat Parelli YouTube videos to help with the trailer loading and is now focused on helping the Minis stay fit and to treat their human visitors kindly.

Alana is also a member of her high school robotics team and led outreach efforts for it for two years.

All tolled she has gained experiences that should enable her to enjoy and make the most of college next year. Having an Interscholastic Horse Show Association or National Collegiate Equestrian Association team is a priority in Alana’s school search. She appreciates that her IEA experience has included presentations on how IEA compares to IHSA and NCEA competition, including volunteering at IHSA shows at the Stanford Red Barn for a hands-on look at the experience.

Math, economics and business are her likely academic pursuits for college. Thanks in large part to IEA, horses seem sure to be a passion for life.