Winners Announced in IEA Dear Marguerite National Essay Contest

Press Release

Columbus, Ohio – The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) is pleased to announce the winners and honorable mentions of the Dear Marguerite National Essay Contest generously supported by a donation from acclaimed wine columnist and equestrian enthusiast, Lettie Teague. This IEA partnership with Lettie and Trafalgar Square Books paid tribute to the legacy of Marguerite Henry and encouraged youth members in grades 4-12 to explore various themes related to equestrian life, horse welfare, and historical horse figures that celebrated the profound connections between humans and horses.

“IEA riders are exactly the readers for whom Marguerite Henry wrote her books: equestrians dedicated to the love and care of the horse,” says Teague.

After 288 heartfelt submissions from across the nation, the following participants stood out for their exceptional insight, creativity, and passion:

Winners and Honorable Mentions

Middle School Winning Essay:

– Sarah Swankoski, Grade 6, Delaware Valley University IEA Team, Zone 11

Middle School Honorable Mentions:

– Margot Walters, Grade 8, Cranberry Acres Equestrian IEA Team, Zone 1

– Inaara Mila Kumar, Grade 5, Folly Farm IEA Team, Zone 1

Upper School Winning Essay:

– Lucy Smith, Grade 12, Five Star Hunters IEA Team, Zone 4

Upper School Honorable Mentions:

– Tiiu Nomm, Grade 10, En-Tice-Ment Stables / Indian Creek School IEA Team, Zone 3

– Molly Finn, Grade 12, Hope Equestrian IEA Team, Zone 2

Our winners will receive attractive prizes, including cash prizes of $500.00 for Middle School and $1,000.00 for Upper School, an autographed advanced copy of Dear Readers and Riders: The Beloved Books, Faithful Fans, and Hidden Private Life of Marguerite Henry by Lettie Teague, along with a Breyer Misty Gift Set. Additionally, their essays will be published in the 2024 IEA Hunt Seat National Finals program celebrating their creative efforts.

“Lettie’s support of IEA programming through her Hunt Seat Supplemental Grant, as well as her commitment to young rider development is invaluable,” says Kathryn Dando, IEA Resource Development Director. “IEA was thrilled to see our students’ creativity blossom!” The Dear Marguerite National Essay contest aims to inspire a new generation of equestrian writers and enthusiasts.

We congratulate all our winners and honorable mentions for their outstanding contributions and thank every participant who shared their stories and insights with us. These essays not only reflected the contestants’ dedication and love for equestrian life but also highlighted the ongoing importance of ethical equestrianism and the historical significance of horses. The IEA looks forward to fostering continued appreciation for these themes through future contests and initiatives.


The Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting lifelong involvement in equestrian athletics by offering a unique draw-based competition format for young riders in grades 4-12, allowing them to compete without owning a horse or riding equipment, providing greater affordability and access to the sport. IEA has nearly 15,000 members across the United States participating in Hunt Seat, Western and Dressage disciplines. For more information, visit


Lettie Teague has been the wine columnist of The Wall Street Journal since 2010. Before joining the Journal, Teague was the executive wine editor and columnist for Food & Wine magazine. She is the author of two books, Wine in Words and Educating Peter, and co-author and illustrator of Fear of Wine. She has won three James Beard Awards, including the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. More importantly, Teague’s equestrian life began when she was nine, the same year she read her first Marguerite Henry book (Born to Trot). Like Henry, she grew up in the Midwest and aspired to be a writer.

Teague is based in New Jersey, which has one of the highest horse populations in U.S. As Teague notes, it may be called the “Garden State,” but it (really) should be titled “The Horsiest State.”

Teague’s latest book, Dear Readers and Riders: the Beloved Books, Faithful Fans and Hidden Private Life of Marguerite Henry will be published by Trafalgar Square Books in the spring of 2024.


Trafalgar Square Books, and its online bookstore, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. We published our first horse book, Centered Riding by Sally Swift, in 1985, and since then have continued to strive to produce high-quality equestrian books and videos “for the good of the horse.”

Check out the latest releases from Trafalgar Square here!

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As an equestrian media outlet focused entirely on American horse sport, EQuine AMerica showcases the USA’s equestrian talent (both two-legged and four) in the disciplines of para dressage, dressage, hunters, jumpers, and eventing. We support and promote our nation’s fantastic equine events, products, services, artists, authors, science/tech, philanthropy, and nonprofits through our online magazine and social media platforms. Our mission is to offer you interesting/inspiring short and long-form content in a format that’s beautiful, readable, and relatable.