A girl on a palomino pony rides away from the camera, toward a green jump with an IEA sign on it.
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IEA National Finals kicks off with competitive individual fences classes

When IEA Nationals competitors and parents arrived at the New York State Fairgrounds Friday morning, they quickly realized that the end of April doesn’t mean spring in Syracuse, New York.

Cars and grass outside the Toyota Coliseum had a light dusting of snow when horses started warming up for the first day of IEA National Finals. And inside, spectators were bundled up, with one mentioning how she’d just bought a down jacket when she arrived.

But that was OK for riders from Chestnut Hills Farm in California — they spent Thursday night dancing around in the snow. And the horses — most of whom were from the northeast — seemed pretty used to the cold, and only one seemed ready to get rid of its rider all day.

Day one was packed with all the individual jumping classes. It kicked off with the Varsity Open 2’6” over fences, with the highest level of IEA riders showed strong round after strong round. The first part of the class ended with Zone 4’s Maddie Vorhies, Zone 1’s Alycia Petrauskas, and Zone 2’s Alyssa Calabrese in a ride-off.

That had Sydney North nervous — she wasn’t in the callback.

“I assumed they were testing the top riders, so I talked to my trainer and she said ‘You know, you had a really good round and it would be weird if you don’t get a good ribbon’ but it is what it is,” North said. “But then when they announced the girls in the test as second, third and fourth, I had a really good feeling.”

That feeling turned out to be the right one. North ended up winning the class without having to prove herself a second time.

A rider on a white horse takes on the 2'6" blue jump.
A rider takes on the 2’6″ end jump in the Varsity over fences class.

There wasn’t much time to waste between classes, and things quickly moved on to Varsity Intermediate over fences. This time, the top three riders swapped horses did a longer test of four fences, including a four-stride line that wasn’t a part of the initial course.

After both rides, another Zone 1 rider, Riley Babb, ended up on top. He was followed by Zone 2’s Serephine Morreale and Zone 4’s Courtney Blackmore.

A young rider on a black and white horse lands from a white fence.
Serephina Morreale rode Cazenovia College’s Twister in her first round and Chloe here in her second.

The third class ended in another test. This time, Emma Symon, Jaden Perry, Ryleigh Threatt and Skylar Wireman faced off for the Future Intermediate over fences title.

Wireman finished her round feeling good, but she knew she made a few minor errors, so winning the class was a surprise. She was quick to thank her mount, Ever from Morrisville State College.

I was really lucky to get the horse I drew,” Wireman said. “Last year was the first time I went to Nationals and I didn’t get a good draw, he tried to buck me off.”

It was the perfect way to  finish out her middle school career. Wireman is moving up to the more competitive upper school classes next year.

Skylar Wireman and Ever won Future Intermediate over fences to finish off Wireman’s middle school career.

The show came to a brief pause to break down the fences into crossrails and school some new horses. And when the Junior Varsity Novice class had ended, it moved on to, yes, another test. This time, Gina Diliberti, Susan Schnell, Sacha Vince and Sydney Newburn all came into the arena and lined up to hear their test. After tackling two jumps, they sit-trotted back to the lineup and watched the other gos. Four nearly perfect rounds turned into a tight win for Diliberti, who was onboard Morrisville horse Sonny.

A girl on a chestnut horse trots in front of a jump.
Gina Diliberti trots away on Morrisville’s Sonny after her winning round in Junior Varsity Novice Crossrails.

The fifth and final jumping class of the day was Future Novice Crossrails. It was the only class without a test, though reserve champion Tyler Ferris did end up with a re-ride. He came in just behind Alayna Johnson, who rode through a broken foot to bring home Zone 7’s first top-5 finish of the day.

A young boy goes of a blue crossed pole jump on a dark brown horse with a bright white stripe on its face.
Tyler Ferris got a re-ride after his first pony ran out at a fence, and ended up reserve champion.

Jumping was supposed to wrap up and schooling for flat horses was supposed to start around 2 p.m., but testing in every class led to a late start for the second half of the program.

Every flat class in the afternoon was a preliminary heat except for Individual Intermediate Varsity.

Tomiko McGovern rode Rex from Morrisville, making the college’s horses the biggest winners of the day. Once riders picked up their ribbons, they took another blue ribbon to the horse they rode. Here’s Sydney North with CNY Equestrian’s Da’Nico — check out “Danny” and his matching ribbon.

A post shared by CNY Eq (@cny_eq) on

And catch the top eight placings from each Friday class below:

Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is the founder and Editor in Chief of Horsey.

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