Adequan USEF Youth Team Challenge: What You Need to Know

Gold for Area VIII. Photo by Shelby Allen.

2021 brings about some changes to the youth competitions here in the U.S., with the former North American Youth Championships (NAYC) evolving into this year’s Adequan USEF Youth Team Challenge. This evolution, USEF Managing Director of Eventing Jenni Autry says, came about after the NAYC repeatedly encountered difficulty fielding international teams. In an effort to more closely align the Young Rider program with the USEF Eventing Pathway Program, the Youth Team Challenge also emerges as a way to expand opportunity to a greater number of riders.

In order to field a larger pool of talent from which to select championship teams, the U.S. here takes a page from the books of federations such as Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany. In these and other European countries, young riders enter the funnel at a much younger age, meaning that by the time they reach the senior level they’ve already had some legitimate team experience under their belts. It’s this model that USEF Development and Emerging Coach Leslie Law hopes to emulate.

“Certainly in the U.S. what we’re trying to do in a way is change the culture of it a little bit,” he explained on an informational webinar hosted by the USEF last night. He went on to explain the importance of this experience under pressure, citing the fact that the U.S. has often put riders on championship teams who had no previous team experience. This, he says, is an area of opportunity, and a reason behind this new Youth Team Challenge.

The team of Jenni Autry, USEF Development Coach Leslie Law, former Young Rider Caroline Martin, and USEF Eventing Performance and Program Support Director Christina Vaughn provided their vision for this new program in the webinar, which expands both the age limitation and the number of competitions available to riders ages 14-25. The full informational webinar has been made available for on demand viewing on the USEF Network.

Below are some key takeaways from the informational webinar. For full information on the USEF Youth Team Challenge, click here.

When do riders need to declare for their respective areas?

The deadline for area declarations is January 29 at 5 p.m. EST. The Area Declaration form is found in an athlete’s MyUSEF account under the Athlete Dashboard. Jenni Autry advised that even if a rider is not yet qualified for a level, submitting a declaration will allow the USEF to have everything in order for when the rider does achieve their qualification later in the year. Information about declaration can be found in the Selection Procedures here.

What are the age ranges for each level?

  • CCI1* – 14 through 18
  • CCI2* – 14 through 21
  • CCI4* – 16 through 25

What events will host the NAYC competitions and finals?

The host venues are expected to be announced soon. We do know that there will be five events on the East coast and four on the West coast, all in Short format, culminating in a Long format final on each coast in the fall.

What will be the team format at NAYC competitions?

A team may be comprised of up to four riders, with three the minimum to field a team. Areas may also send individual riders. At the Short format events, areas may field up to two teams. Mixed teams may also be available. Foreign teams will also be welcomed; riders should reference their own Federation’s selection criteria.

Other notable takeaways:

  • Riders will not be required to stay at the level they begin the year at – so, they could start at CCI2* and end at CCI3*, with proper qualifications
  • There will not be a CCI1* offered at each venue; it is the USEF’s hope that more venues will add CCI1* courses in the coming seasons
  • Riders will not have to compete in each leg in order to qualify for the year-end final

Have more questions? The USEF has published a Q&A addressing common questions about the Youth Team Challenge, and you can also reach out directly to Jenni Autry ([email protected]) or Christina Vaughn ([email protected]) with further inquiries.