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Equestrians from Brooklet's Evermore Farm perform well at Nationals
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From left to right, Evermore Farm IEA High School Team members Sarah Brown, Kaylee Sheppard, Ashley ONeal, Olivia Rigdon, and Lauren Thompson. - photo by Special

      The months of hard work paid off this year for the Evermore Farm High School Interscholastic Equestrian Team (IEA). At the IEA National Championship held in Conyers, Ga., the Brooklet-based Evermore team placed third out of the 19 teams that qualified out of more than 200 teams nationwide.
       “This was a great show,” said Evermore Farm owner and trainer Eleanor Ellis. “Our riders worked tirelessly for months to prepare for the national championship and it was showed with our third place finish.”
      It was a close race all day with the Evermore Farm team putting up 16 points. The winner only had 18 points making it the closest IEA Nationals on record.
       Riders can qualify to compete on the team, individually or both. The riders who competed on the third-place winning team included Kaylee Sheppard, Olivia Rigdon, Lauren Thompson, Ashley O'Neal and Sarah Brown.
      Sheppard placed sixth in team Varsity Open Fence; Rigdon placed second in team Varsity Intermediate Fences; Thompson placed second in team JV Novice Flat and third in team JV Novice Fences; O'Neal placed sixth in team JV Beginner; and Sarah Brown competed in team Varsity Open Flat.
      Riders competing individually included Olivia Rigdon, Sarah Merritt, Rachel Bird and Lauren Thompson. Merritt competed in Individual JV Beginner; Thompson placed third in individual JV Novice Flat; and Bird placed sixth in individual Future Beginner.
      Rigdon who competed in the the Varsity Intermediate division won the National Championship in individual Varsity Intermediate Over Fences.
      “It was exciting to compete and win a national championship,” said Rigdon. “The months of practice paid off in the end.”
       The road to the National Championship is a year long process. The team and individuals must first qualify for the Zone Championship by competing in a number of shows throughout the year. The Evermore team competes in Zone 4 Region  4 which includes teams from Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. At Zones in order to continue to Nationals the team must place in the top four; Evermore was the Reserve Championship team at Zones.
       The IEA is a non-profit equestrian association where the riders don't ride their own horse but chose a horse in a draw. They must then ride the unknown horse in the competition. The unique characteristics of the IEA competition makes this win even more special.
       “We couldn't have made it to the national championship without the support of our dedicated parents who spent hours fundraising, and supporting their children throughout the last year,” Ellis said. “It is to them we owe a debt of gratitude.”
       The IEA model is based on the collegiate riding model of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). Locally Georgia Southern University hosts an IHSA team also housed at Evermore Farm. For more information about the IEA visit www.rideiea.org. For more information about Evermore Farm visit www.evermorefarm.net.

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