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Casey Tonnies, a sophomore at The Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts finished first in the IEA’s Zone 7 competition, participating in the over fences at the 2 foot event.
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Caddo Magnet High School freshman Daisy Kallenberg won the IEA's Zone 7 finals for Junior Varsity Novice equitation on the flat.
A pair of local students are headed to Lexington, Virginia, to compete in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s (IEA) National Finals April 21-22, but the horses they rode in on won’t be going with them.
Casey Tonnies, a sophomore at The Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts finished first in the IEA’s Zone 7 competition, participating in the over fences at the 2 foot event. Caddo Magnet High School freshman Daisy Kallenberg likewise won the zone’s finals for Junior Varsity Novice equitation on the flat. In addition to Louisiana, Zone 7 includes riders from Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Tonnies has come a long way in a short time. Just four years ago, she hadn’t been on a horse. She got her start as a 12 year old learning to ride at Double Rainbow Equestrian Center with Sig North and, later, Katie Andersen. Being at The Louisiana School has also afforded her the opportunity to ride with Karen Miller in Natchitoches when she’s in school. Casey is one of the charter members of the North Louisiana Equestrian IEA team. She rode two years for the middle school team and has lettered her first two years of high school through the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).
The USEF program provides recognition for individual achievements for equestrians who attend schools without a recognized equestrian program, also allowing them to compete at the national level.
Competing at the national level is a big deal. According to Daisy, “Because of what the IEA stands for, getting to this point means more to me than winning in any other equestrian competition I do. It’s such a great reward for all the hard work I’ve put into riding.” She credits her coach Katie Andersen and contributing member Sue Allender of Double Rainbow Farm for much of her success, adding, “I love getting to meet riders from other places around the country and getting to ride new horses, so this experience will be amazing!”
Both girls have ridden a number of horses on her way to the top of Zone 7, but they won’t be riding any of them to Lexington.
“I will compete on a horse that I have never seen or ridden,” said Tonnies, adding that she will be competing against the best riders in the country. “I will get two warm-up jumps, then proceed directly into my judged round. I will be competing for a national ranking – and some college scouts attend the Finals as well.”
Of course, Casey and Daisy won’t be the only riders on unfamiliar horses. At the IEA National Finals, all riders draw from a pool of eligible horses for their respective events.
Casey says that qualifying for the National Finals has always been her end goal. “But it seemed to be a little far from my reach,” she said. “The reality of it hasn’t really sunk in yet. Getting to this point validates the hard work I put into becoming a better rider on different horses… this reflects the rainy days, the bitterly cold days and the blistering hot days that I went to ride whatever was available.”
It would appear that the best is yet to come for these young equestrians. As Casey put it, “Moving forward, I’m going to keep working toward becoming the best I can be. And at the Finals, I’m just going to ride the way I know how to ride.”
By Scott Rutherford