Another issue, Armstrong says, is that many kids in Oklahoma have parents who do not want to see them ride English saddle. They prefer the western style, which has the horn at the front which, among other things, adds an element of safety.
“The thing is, if you can ride this, you can ride anything,” she said. “You have to have good balance to ride English, and that translates to riding the western saddle.”
To try and attract more riders nation wide, the IEA helps members in their goals for higher education. Scholarships are widely publicized, and there's also the college equestrian recruiters that attend shows and might see someone like Verser as a top future prospect for her ability to adjust to multiple horses.
“With IEA, because they don’t know the horse, it’s only based on their ability to ride, or horsemanship," Armstrong said. "American horsemanship is hard to find, because you have a lot of these kids who’s parents buy them this million dollar horse they just plop them on to ride. That’s one of IEA’s goals, is to teach horsemanship, and there are sportsmanship awards, as well.”