Lexington, KY – The 2012 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) is proud to welcome all of the 261 young athletes that will compete in five disciplines over the next five days. The NAJYRC is held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. Today, the NAJYRC hosted the athletes, trainers, friends, and family at the Opening Ceremonies.
Five disciplines (a total of 9 championships for juniors and young riders) will take part in the only FEI Championship to be held annually in North America. The NAJYRC is the premier equestrian competition in North America for junior and young riders, ages 14-21. This year, young equestrians have come from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala to vie for team and individual FEI medals in the three Olympic equestrian disciplines of show jumping, dressage, eventing and the FEI World Equestrian Games disciplines of reining and endurance.
The competition is run under rules of the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale), the international governing body for equestrian sport. Many of North America’s best equestrians who now regularly represent their country on Olympic, World Championship and Nations Cup teams got their first taste of International experience at NAJYRC. These include show jumpers Greg Best, Chris Kappler and McLain Ward, five-time Olympian and three-day eventer Karen O’Connor, and dressage rider Todd Flettrich.
The NAJYRC began in 1974 as an eventing challenge between the United States and Canada. A dressage championship was added in 1981, and show jumping was added in 1982. The first complete Young Riders championship was held in British Columbia, Canada, in 1982. The Championships were expanded to officially include a championship division for juniors in 2006. The discipline of reining was added to the official schedule in 2008; endurance joined the championship for the first time in 2011. Vaulting competition is held at the NAJYRC, but is not officially part of the championship.
The opening ceremonies featured all of the teams from the six disciplines in a parade to honor the members and their Chefs d’Equipe. The teams posed for photos before leaving on a golf cart parade to sponsor Spy Coast Farm for an exhibitor barbeque. The golf cart parade featured many brightly decorated carts all vying for the win as “Best Dressed.”
Held at the site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), the NAJYRC brings together a multitude of disciplines similar to the WEG. Show jumping and dressage had their jogs today, where horses were tested for soundness before the officials and veterinarians. This is a key part of FEI level competition, and the junior and young riders of all disciplines here at NAJYRC are learning valuable information about international rules and regulations that will serve them well when they go to represent their country at senior-level events.
Dressage kicks off the competition tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. with the junior and young rider team tests. There are 80 dressage riders slated to ride at the NAJYRC this year. In the afternoon, medals will be awarded to the junior and young rider dressage teams, with the winning team honored with their national anthem. On Friday, the individual tests are held, and riders return on Saturday for their freestyle tests. Both days’ competition will award medals to the top three finishers.
Show jumping will hold their first individual qualifiers on Wednesday afternoon with 58 starters and will return on Thursday morning to compete in their team finals. Medals will be awarded for the junior teams, followed by the young rider teams. The individual finals will be held on Saturday.
Three-Day Eventing starts on Thursday with dressage tests for both the CCI 2* and CCI 1* riders (which total 59 in all), and the always exciting cross country will take place on Saturday. The eventers wrap up their competition on Sunday morning with the stadium jumping phase and receive their individual and team medals.
Reining composes 20 riders, and they will start with a welcome competition on Wednesday afternoon in the Alltech Arena. Their team championship is held on Thursday where they will receive medals in a podium presentation, while individual medals will be contested on Saturday.
Seventeen Endurance riders will travel on a 120 kilometer course around the Kentucky Horse Park bright and early on Friday morning at 6:30 a.m. Awards for the Best Conditioned Horse and the team and individual medals will be awarded on Saturday morning.
Vaulting competition will be featured in the Mary Murphy Ring on Thursday morning. The 26 vaulters will return on Friday morning for their final competition.
More exciting news and results will be forthcoming as the week progresses. To learn more about the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, please visit www.youngriders.org.
NAJYRC showcases the best young rider and junior horse/rider combinations in dressage, eventing, jumping, reining, and endurance. Young equestrians from across the continent will descend on the Kentucky Horse Park to vie for FEI medals at these Championships.
For sponsorship information, visit www.youngriders.org/Sponsors.aspx.