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So You Want to Compete at the NAJYRC


by Nancy Gorton
(USDF Region 4 FEI Junior and Young Rider Coordinator)

Feb 19, 2009 - This year’s NAJYRC (North American Junior and Young Rider Championships) will be held on July 22-29, 2009, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.  If you, or someone you know, is considering qualifying for the competition, I would like to offer the following insights.


Always review the definition of the area in which you would like to qualify.  The definition of the rule “junior” is states “A person may compete as a junior from the beginning of the calendar year in which he [she] reaches the age of 14 until the end of the calendar year in which he [she] reaches the age of 18.”


The definition of a “young rider” is written as “A person may compete as a young rider from the beginning of the calendar year in which he [she] reaches the age of 16 until the end of the calendar year in which he [she] reaches the age of 21.”


To qualify, juniors require a horse that can score above 62% consistently at 3rd and 4th Level, and young riders require a horse that can score above 62% at PSG. The horse, rider and owner of the horse must all have current USDF and USEF memberships.  The horse and the rider must also have an FEI registration number, and the rider must submit a declaration of intent by March 1 of the year in which they are attempting to qualify.
The rider must also have paid IHP Discipline dues prior to any CDI they participate in for qualifying purposes and prior to the NAJYRC (should they make the team). The horse must have a current FEI passport. 


If the rider has the horse, they’ve filled out all the necessary forms, paid all the necessary dues and fees, they will then need their horse and trainer to help perfect the tests they will be performing.  Both the junior and young rider sections have two tests; the “team” test and the “individual” test.  Riders must also have a freestyle for their competition level, and must score at least 62% on their freestyle in one of their qualifying competitions.  To be considered for the team they must also obtain an average of 62% from at least three different qualifying competitions. At each official USDF qualifying competition they must ride both the team test and the individual test.  One will be offered one day and one the next at the qualifying competitions. Any competitions which are two shows in one weekend will only count as one qualifying competition. If the rider chooses to compete at more than three qualifying competitions in order to improve their average only one “extra” competition score set will be dropped (i.e., if you compete at five qualifying competitions only one set will be dropped).  The rider needs to be aware of that in some cases competing at more than four competitions can hurt their average.
Now some advice for the rider:


Your parents will be your greatest support for this endeavor. Treat them well, appreciate everything they do, especially when they are gasping for air when they discover the cost of all this, on top of the cost of the horse. Once you decide you want to do this and can find a way to finance it, be determined.  Much will happen to discourage you, that is life, but be persistent and committed. You will have the most profound life changing experiences if you choose to pursue this dream. You will make new friends and you will find out just how far you can push yourself and your horse to reach greatness. Remain humble when you win. Support your team even before they become your team-mates.  The key to winning at the NAJYRC in the team competition, besides great scores, is to be the closest knit team on the grounds.  Your ability to cheer each other and to help each other will make your competition wish they were on your team. Who doesn’t want to be part of a team that holds each member with high regard?


Remember that qualifying is winning, even though you may not have one of the top four qualifying averages.  Being one of the very few competitors at the NAJYRC is also winning, ribbon or no ribbon, medal or no medal. Last year there were only 35 Juniors that competed and 37 Young Riders. A very small number considering the competition is open to all North American dressage riders ages 14-21. Dedication, sacrifice, a strong support system and determination are a common thread to all those competing at these levels. 


Below are a list of the documents and forms riders will need to review and complete to qualify for the championships:


Declaration Guide


Declaration of Intent Forms
Young Riders:


Rule Books
Young Riders:


Links to the qualifying competitions in Regions 2, 4 and 9


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