Competitive horseback riders will visit Evermore Farm in Leefield this weekend as the riding facility plays host to the Zone 4 Interscholastic Equestrian Association Finals on Saturday and Sunday.
Zone Four of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) includes middle school and high school equestrian athletes throughout the southeastern United States. There are currently 63 teams in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee, and riders from these states will attend the show, said trainer Katie Thomas.
"There will be more than 600 separate rides over the two-day show period," she said. "Everything from beginners to advanced riders, all competing for a chance to make it to the national competition."
The IEA Zone Four Finals are a major show event, she said. "We have already sold out the Marriott hotel and the Comfort Inn - this is a huge event for the Statesboro area. "
There will be pre-events at Evermore Farms today, but the competition begins on Saturday. A banquet will be held Saturday evening at the Marriott hotel, she said.
Both hunt seat and western teams compete throughout the year in hopes of earning a spot at the finals. The top four scoring teams will move on to the National IEA Finals held in Conyers, Ga., at the Georgia International Horse Park.
IEA is non-profit and works through the local schools to encourage equestrian sports.
"The local girls competing do all their own fund raising and are incredible student-athletes," Thomas said. "They don't show their own horses but draw a horse in a lottery the day of the show. If they do well at this show then they will qualify for the National Show."
For more information about Evermore Farm and the IEA shows, you can access Web sites www.evermorefarm.net and http://www.ridezone4.com.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.