Many of equestrian sport’s finest athletes did not simply appear on the grandest stage. They worked hard and gained experience through steppingstone competitions and events, like the Adequan® FEI North American Youth Championships presented by Gotham North. The young athletes that will compete this week also committed to participating and took the appropriate steps to join an illustrious group of alumni. Competing in the NAYC is an attainable goal, and the following information describes how to qualify for the NAYC and the events or programs that can assist in preparing for the NAYC.
Dressage Junior and Young Rider competitors, ages 14-21, qualify for the NAYC through designated competitions during the qualifying period, contending for a team spot for their respective Region.
Although selection criteria may vary slightly each year, athlete-and-horse combinations are required to earn a Certificate of Capability by attaining a minimum overall average of a certain percentage in the FEI Team Test and FEI Individual Test at a designated number of qualifying competitions. In addition to these tests, athlete-and-horse combinations are required to earn a certain percentage in their respective FEI Junior Freestyle Test and FEI Young Rider Freestyle Test.
In addition to competing at qualifying classes, one can gain experience and prepare for the NAYC by participating in the following events and programs:
Discover Dressage USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program: Provides strategic guidance and educational opportunities to athletes under the age of 25. Note: athletes must be selected for membership.
U.S. Dressage European Young Rider Tour: Gives U.S. athlete-and-horse-combinations the opportunity to compete in European CDI-Y and CDIO-Y competitions if they have reached a required level. This program is considered an important part of the U.S. Dressage Pathway Program, promoting and exposing elite-level U.S. Dressage Young Rider combinations to international competitions.
International CDI-Y and CDI-J Competitions: Participating in international competitions provides invaluable experience, as
these classes gather athlete-and-horse combinations from around the world. Participating in individual international competition prepares combinations for the rigors of championship competition. Additionally, combinations can obtain NAYC qualifying scores from CDI competitions, providing flexibility to the athlete-horse combination. However, they have to be submitted through a USEF CDI Report Form.
United States Dressage Federation Regional Championships: Program designed to promote and recognize the pursuit of excellence by providing a showcase competition that meets established quality standards for riders within each of the nine USDF Regions.
USDF Junior and Young Rider Regional Clinics: These two-day clinics include private lessons with a top instructor, theory sessions, and auditing opportunities.
USEF Young Rider or Junior Dressage National Championships: Riders earn the right to compete against the best combinations in the country for the chance to be named a national champion.
The FEI Jumping NAYC consists of Children (ages 12-14), Junior (ages 14-18), and Young Rider (ages 16-21) divisions. Selection criteria may vary by year and by Zone, but, typically, those athletes who wish to compete must complete an application and earn Certificate(s) of Capability based on the following parameters:
Young Rider: Riders must complete a course set at 1.45m or higher with a score of four faults or less; complete a course with either a three-meter open water jump without a rail or a three-meter water jump with a rail.
Junior: Riders must complete a course set at 1.40m or higher with a score of four faults or less; complete a course with either a three-meter open water jump without a rail or a three-meter water jump with a rail.
Children: Riders must complete a course set at 1.20m or higher with a score of four faults or less.
Once the application and qualifying periods close, each Zone submits an FEI Nominated Entry, which is selected off a ranking list of up to 10 athlete-and-horse combinations for each division. The nominated entry is based on the money won in designated classes for their respective height during the NAYC Qualifying Period. Zone chefs d’equipe use this list to select four athlete-and-horse combinations, plus one traveling reserve athlete-and-horse combination for the team. The traveling reserve also gets to compete as an individual.
In addition to competing in qualifying classes, one can gain experience and prepare for the NAYC by participating in the following events and programs, which help build team experience:
USEF Pony Jumper National Championships: These provide an opportunity for Junior pony riders to compete against their peers over multiple days of jumping competition through a team and individual format.
United States Hunter Jumper Association Zone Jumper Team Championships (1.10m; 1.20m; 1.30m): These championships provide riders with a competitive team and individual experience over three days and four rounds of competition in a Nations Cup-style format.
Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper National Championships (Prix des States): These provide an opportunity for U.S. Junior riders to compete against their peers over multiple days of competition each fall. The Championships feature both the Prix des States team competition, with teams fielded by Zone, and an individual competition.
FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth: These are FEI-sanctioned team competitions for children, junior, and young riders, in which teams from multiple countries compete against each other in their respective age divisions.
It is important that all athletes are familiar with FEI rules and regulations, including FEI Clean Sport for Horses and Humans. For more information on FEI Clean Sport, visit. FEI.org. In addition, all human and equine athletes must be registered with the FEI and USEF.
For more information about the dressage and jumping pathways, visit USDF.org and USHJA.org. To learn more about team competition and getting to the NAYC, watch this US Equestrian Learning Center video courtesy of Gotham North.
This article is original content produced by US Equestrian and may only be shared via social media. It is not to be repurposed or used on any other website aside from USequestrian.org.