The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), in conjunction with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), awards a student rider the National Sportsmanship Award each year. This year’s award was presented to Olivia Barden, a senior from Parker, Colo.
The national award winner is selected from a group of riders who earned a Sportsmanship Award at a local, regional or zone IEA show during the 2017-2018 season. These winners were then invited to submit an application for the National Sportsmanship Award. The student riders submitted a resume, composed a 250-word essay explaining how horses and/or equestrian competition have influenced his/her life and three letters of recommendation.
“My participation in IEA the last five years has provided me with experiences that reach far beyond riding and competing: developing an even deeper appreciation for horses, teamwork, sportsmanship and the value of embracing any experience, as well as learning a lot about myself and the things I value,” said Barden, “As a graduating high school senior, it is certainly bittersweet that my IEA career is concluding, but I look forward to taking these amazing lessons I’ve learned and applying them as I begin my college career.”
Barden is a rider on the Front Range Equestrian Team (coached by Shaun Clark and Tracye Ferguson), will receive a $500.00 scholarship from the IEA, a lifetime membership to the IEA and a nomination by the IEA to affiliates’ sportsmanship award programs. The IHSA will award Barden a $500.00 scholarship, a keeper trophy and her name engraved on a perpetual Sportsmanship Award trophy. If Barden attends a college with an IHSA program, that scholarship amount will be doubled to $1,000.
An Honor Society graduate of Legend High School, Barden plans to attend Colorado State University this fall. In addition to riding with IEA for the past five years, she also served as the IEA Zone 8 Youth Board Representative during the 2017-2018 season.
“Good sportsmanship is a tenant in the IEA and this award is held to high regard. Choosing the National Sportsman from the pool of amazing candidates is always a difficult decision. Olivia is a proven leader, outstanding equestrian, and her sportsmanship and dedication to IEA is something to be envied,” commented Roxane Durant, IEA Executive Director.
Nearly 750 riders were eligible for the National Sportsmanship Award. Colorado resident Maggie Klau, who rides with Jen Shannon on the Cornerstone Farm team, earned fourth place in the competition.