By Tammy Chipko
The Young Jumper Championships are designed to identify the horses that are the most promising young show jumping prospects competing in the United States. One of the goals is to offer opportunities for up and coming Grand Prix jumpers to compete against their peers over suitable courses.
Horses must be nominated for the Young Jumper Championships annually in order to qualify for the League Finals held in August.
Qualifying classes are hosted throughout the year at recognized USEF competitions. These classes for 5, 6, and 7/8 year olds are designed to provide exposure and invaluable experience.
A great way to bring young horses up the ranks throughout the year, each division begins with inviting courses and then advances throughout the year offering bigger and more difficult courses. Since all the horses competing are the same age, the classes help riders gauge their own horse’s talent and progress. Ideally the system is designed to help young horses along at a good pace.
I asked some of our top professionals about the YJC.
Joie Gatlin: This organization is important because we need to develop our own horses here in the United States. With the Euro being so much stronger than the dollar now, it is not cost-effective for most people to go to Europe and show horses there like we used to. It also encourages people here to develop their own breeding programs. This is vital to the growth of our sport and in doing this we can encourage owners to purchase horses here in the States.
Joie Gatlin and her husband Morley Abey run a successful program that includes trips to Europe and Canada. www.joiegatlin.com
Mandy Porter: I hope that everyone continues to support the Young Jumpers so we can continue to grow and improve the organization. I would love to see this develop like it has in Europe. This is possible if we keep our standards high and provide good challenges for our horses throughout the year.
Mandy Porter spent many years developing jumpers and showing in Nations Cups in Europe.www.mandy-porter.com
Duncan McFarlane: The Young Jumper classes are a great idea! They inspire owners to become more involved because they can show their horses all year in hopes of qualifying for the finals. I think the final could be run in a different format that would make it more exciting for the owners and spectators but hopefully, as the organization progresses, this will happen.
Duncan McFarlane and his wife Gry own Windfall Farms. Through the years, they have trained multiple young horses to the Grand Prix level. www.windfallfarminc.com
Tasha Visokay: The class allows me to show my horse in a division of horses of the same age and ability and I like that. I think the intent of the Young Jumpers is good and we need to continue to come together to help it grow as it has on the East Coast.
Tasha Visokay assists Mark Bone at Huntover Farm in Thousand Oaks, California.
Patricia Griffith: We have several horses that we enter in the different age groups – it really is a great outlet for the young horses. It provides us a chance to compete in classes with horses of the same age instead of competing in open classes that have sometimes over 100 horses, many of which are older and have much more experience than our young horses. The format promotes clean rounds which is so important for young horses. These classes also provide a very nice way to showcase young horses that are for sale. We are lucky here that we have the sponsors to support this. The eastern finals are located at the Hampton Classic and it is a beautiful venue and very exciting for all.
Patricia Griffith works for Heritage Farm located in Katonah, NY. (914) 232-2122