In September, the AQHA Executive Committee made the decision to move forward with traditional qualifying requirements for the 2021 AQHA championship shows. Since this announcement, the Executive Committee and AQHA staff have continued to monitor the situation for each championship show to determine if modifications need to be made due to the pandemic.
After careful consideration between the Executive Committee, AQHA Show Council, AQHA Affiliate Advisory Board, affiliates, advisers and AQHA Show Department, the Executive Committee has made the calculated decision to waive traditional qualifying for the 2021 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, tentatively scheduled for July 28 – August 8 at the OKC Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City.
AQHA has established two options to compete at the 2021 Ford Youth World. AQHYA exhibitors will have the choice to nationally qualify by the end of the qualifying period, April 30, 2021, or meet their state/provincial affiliate requirements. Affiliates will not have a cap on the total number of entries per class or for the show.
“The decision to waive traditional qualifying for the 2021 Ford Youth World was based on extensive discussion, comparison of previous years’ qualifying data and the cancellation of approximately 30% of the qualifying shows since May 1, 2020, when the qualifying period began,” said Justin Billings, AQHA chief show officer. “We anticipate continued effects of the pandemic, especially in the harder hit areas of the world where many lockdowns remain in place.”
The Executive Committee, Show Council, Affiliate Advisory Board, affiliates and advisers reviewed the Ford Youth World qualifying data for 2017, 2018 and 2019, in addition to the qualifying data for 2020, which was significantly impacted by COVID-19; plus, the current youth qualifying data for 2021, as of December 15, 2020.
Due to the pandemic, there have been significant differences in the number of shows that have been available during the 2021 Ford Youth World qualifying period as compared to the past three years. For the 2020 Ford Youth World, 408 AQHA-approved shows were eliminated as qualifying opportunities. As of December 15, 2020, 674 potential qualifying shows have been cancelled during the 2021 qualifying period. This is a 65% increase in the loss of qualifying opportunities for AQHYA members over the previous year.
The number of nationally qualified youth, based on a three-year average from 2017 to 2019, is 2,781 exhibitors. While the number of nationally qualified youth as of December 15, 2020, has only reached 733 for the 2021 Ford Youth World, well over seven months into the qualifying period.
“As an Association, the pandemic still impacts the daily lives of our members and has restricted the opportunities for our youth to nationally qualify for the 2021 show,” said Billings. “While there may be locations around the world where youth have the opportunity to qualify, as a whole, those opportunities are limited. The decision to waive traditional qualifying is a result of the impact the pandemic has had on all members during the 2021 Ford Youth World qualifying period. The well-being of those members is AQHA’s top priority, and we are committed to providing a safe show environment, including making modifications to qualifying requirements to give our showing members the opportunity to still do what they love during this unprecedented time – showing their American Quarter Horses.”
The entry process for the 2021 Ford Youth World will remain with the youth advisers, just as it has been in previous years. AQHYA exhibitors interested in competing at the Ford Youth World will continue to work through their state/provincial adviser for information on entering and must meet affiliate requirements to compete. National qualifiers will also have the ability to enter directly through their youth adviser. View the list of state/provincial affiliate youth advisers. Contact your state/provincial youth adviser for more details on the Ford Youth World requirements.
National qualifiers and AQHYA members who meet their state/provincial requirements will enter online. Once the entry form is submitted, the entry form will be in a “pending” status until it is reviewed by the state/provincial adviser. Once the adviser has confirmed that the exhibitor has either nationally qualified or met the state/provincial requirements, the entry will be submitted to AQHA with all of the affiliate’s entries. Additional entry information for the 2021 Ford Youth World will be released on AQHA.com at a later date.
Horses competing in performance halter at the Ford Youth World must abide by AQHA SHW365.3 for performance halter eligibility regarding having earned a performance or racing Register of Merit. With the exception of racehorses that have earned a racing ROM, all other performance halter-eligible horses are required to enter and legitimately compete in a performance class. When showing in the performance class, exhibitors must maintain the integrity of the performance class in which they are competing. Judges will adhere to AQHA Rule SHW910.5 when judging the performance class, “eliminate any horse/exhibitor as an entry which he/she feels is in violation of the intent of AQHA’s prohibited conduct rules, or which he/she does not feel has legitimately attempted to exhibit the horse to the best of the horse’s ability.” Earlier in 2020, the AQHA Executive Committee approved a rule change with respect to AQHA championship shows, stating that open, amateur, youth and Select competitors entering in performance halter at an AQHA world show and using barrel racing, pole bending or stake race to fulfill the performance class requirement must complete the run, without disqualification, and with a clock time within 3 seconds of the fastest time, exclusive of any time penalties to be eligible for performance halter classes. View the approved rule published in April.
For more information on the Ford Youth World, visit www.aqha.com/youthworld.
“We appreciate the input our affiliates provided when making this decision and their understanding because we realize this decision impacts AQHA-sanctioned shows,” said Billings. “We encourage our members to continue to show at AQHA-approved events that are held in accordance with local, state and federal mandates, when the events are available. For upcoming shows, view the AQHA Events Calendar.”
The qualifying requirements have been waived for the 2021 AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship Show, AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge Finals and National Ranch and Stock Horse Alliance National Championships. Read more. At this time, traditional qualifying requirements stay in place for the remaining 2021 AQHA championship shows.
About Ford Motor Co.
Ford Motor Co. is the title sponsor of the Ford Youth World. AQHA members are eligible for a $500 rebate through Ford on select Ford or Lincoln models, some restrictions apply. To qualify, you must be an AQHA member for at least 60 days. Get your rebate and, remember, when purchasing your next vehicle, buy Built Ford Tough.
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA on Twitter and visit www.aqha.com/news.