By Vinisha Cheella, Area II Youth Council Member
With Thanks to Sharon Gallagher, USEA Senior Director of Competitions
How does the national leaderboard work? How are your results counted? What if I'm a junior, or an amateur, and I am competing in an "open" division at an event? How do I calculate my age?
Here's an explanation of how this all works.
Numerous events hold "open" sections where professionals and amateurs compete against each other. As a benefit to amateurs and junior individuals, the USEA has built up a framework to recognize these riders in open divisions so they can gain qualifications for the USEA American Eventing Championship (AEC) and gain points for the USEA Year-End Rider Leaderboards. The USEA Amateur & Junior Upgrade Placing/Points equation is not used for the Overall, Colliegate, Scholastic, or Horse Leaderboard categories. You can learn more by reading the Leaderboard Guidelines on the USEA website. (Here)
The upgrade placing/points are decided by pulling out all the non-amateurs within each section. The upgrade placing/points are not based on the rider's age. For sections not assigned as amateur or junior, the USEA will remove the professionals and update placements in the section as one "amateur" gathering. For example, a declared Amateur and a 13-year-old junior rider place fourth and fifth, respectively, behind three professional riders; they will be updated to first and second, respectively, and get Leaderboard points for 1st and 2nd within the appropriate category if the Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) was achieved within 25% of the starters. They can also utilize their first and second placements toward AEC qualifications.
The overall approach is to not discourage riders from competing among their peers; be that as it may, the USEA recognizes it is a rider's choice which division section to enter. It is important to note: Riders will get no updated placement benefit from entering an Open or Rider section when they are eligible to compete in the offered Junior sections of the division.
Riders not qualified to compete in a Rider Section, as referred to in Reference Section 3 of the USEF Rules for Eventing, will still get the full benefits of the upgraded placement/points. (Case: A junior who has competed at the training level is within the Open BN or BN Horse division since they do not qualify for the BN Rider division.)
It is essential for riders not qualified as juniors (the calendar year they turn 18 years old) to formally claim amateur status, as characterized by the US Equestrian definition beneath (Common Controls) GR1306 (Subchapter 13B), in accordance with the USEA arrangement. It is important to note that amateur declaration is not retroactive, so at the beginning of the year in which you turn 19 - you should declare your amateur status even though you are officially still 18 years old.
This update to placings does not ensure AEC qualification; riders and horses must still meet all the qualifying criteria. Riders should check the list of AEC-qualified horses and the list of AEC riders on the USEA website to confirm their qualification status. You should contact the USEA Office at 703-779-0440 (Ext. 2) if you have questions about your Amateur status.
Event Organizers do their best to put riders into reasonable sections. To make this less demanding for organizers, it would be ideal if you remembered to assign your favored sections (Junior, Rider, Horse, Open ) to the "Eligible Section" on your electronic entry.
Divisions and Sections
The divisions in eventing, as of 2023, include Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Modified, Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced. Each division has its own set of requirements and rules, such as the requirement for obtaining an MER at two horse trials at the training level before you can compete in a modified division; or the requirement for obtaining an MER at six horse trials at the training level or higher before you enter the preliminary division. These unique requirements for horses and riders can be found in the USEF Rules for Eventing, available on USEA and USEF websites.
Calculating a rider's age can be a challenging endeavor. The easiest method is subtracting your birth year from the current calendar year. If you were born in 2008, you are 15 years old in 2023, even if your birthday is in November. The junior section is open to competitors until the end of the calendar year when they reach 18 years; you may find junior sections at Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Modified, and Preliminary levels. The Young Rider classification is only used for Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced. Young Rider is open to those from the beginning of the calendar year in which they reach 16 years of age, until the end of the calendar year in which they reach 21 years of age. Hence in Preliminary, you will often see the designation of Junior/Young Rider division, including junior riders 14-18 years of age, and also including Young Riders, those up to age 21.