BY MEGAN LACY
AON/USHJA National Championships will feature Hunter, Jumper and Equitation championships at The Las Vegas National CSI4*-W
“For the first time, we will have a national championship that is designed to give Amateur, Junior, Adults and Children’s riders something really special to look forward to all year,” said Pat Boyle, competition manager for the inaugural AON/USHJA National Championships at The Las Vegas National CSI4*-W. “In the Quarter Horse world, they have the Quarter Horse Congress, but in our sport we really haven’t had something like that till now. This is super exciting!”
Riders qualify for the AON/USHJA National Championships based on Zone HOTY points or results from other Zone events, like the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships, as opposed to qualifying based on national points alone.
“The first thing people need to do is enter. It’s just $50 to get started, and the deadline is coming up quickly on September 14,” continued Boyle. “It’s based on zone points, and we work our way down the zone standings based on who enters. Once we go down the zone lists, we move to the national standings, so it’s worth it to get your name on the list.”
The AON/USHJA National Championships will feature National Hunter Championships for Amateur Owner, Junior, Pony, Green, Adult Amateur and Children’s competitors. They will also include the USEF/USHJA National Jumper Championships with eight sections of Jumper competition from 1.10m to 1.40m for Junior, Amateur and Open Jumper competitors. The Championships will feature the first of its kind USHJA Affiliate Championships at fence heights of 2′ and 2’6″, and the Championships will offer the USHJA National Equitation Championships for riders 14 and under and those 15-17.
“The format is a little different,” explained Boyle. “For the Jumpers each offers a Welcome, Speed and a $10,000 Grand Prix. For the Hunters, we have a Welcome, Handy, Classic and Under Saddle, so the format is a little more interesting.”
Members interested in qualifying must submit entries for the Championships by Sept. 14 with a non-refundable $50 application fee, which will be credited to the entry fee should the applicant qualify. Points earned from competitions with a start date from Dec. 1, 2017, to Sept. 9, 2018, count toward qualifying. Additionally, USHJA Affiliates are invited to send their best 2′ and 2’6″ horse-and-rider combinations to compete in the Affiliate Championships.
“The venue is awesome. They have two rings, beautifully decorated, and the show is connected to the hotel. You can literally see what’s going on at the show watching the live stream from your room,” said Boyle about the South Point Hotel, Casino, & Spa’s unique Arena & Equestrian Center, where riders and horses stay under one roof and exhibitors can enjoy a spa, tables and slots, 64 bowling lanes, and nine dining establishments.
The Championships will also include free VIP access for all competitors and their families, fun activities throughout the week.
“Beyond the competition itself, we’re going to have a lot of educational pieces,” added Boyle. “We will have seminars for the kids, parents and adults that will cover pretty much everything you could possibly imagine related to horse care and horse showing. It will be a great week of education in addition to great competition and an experience to remember.
“I’m really excited,” Boyle said. “A championship like this has been a long-time coming, and I feel it’s the right thing for the growth of our sport. This creates a whole, new goal for people, and they are showcased alongside a World Cup Qualifier, which makes it really special. I encourage everyone to enter; you never know what could happen.”
To learn more and enter before September 14 to be considered for qualifying, visit ushja.org/nationalchampionships.