David O’Connor had a fiery look in his eye when he walked up to me at the North American Young Riders Championships and told me, “It’s ridiculous that this championship doesn’t have more money and more support.” As the current coach of the USCTA Area X team (and the former coach of two other areas), David is a true believer in the value of the NAYRC for all three disciplines.
Currently, each year the NAYRC’s organizers receive $10,000 apiece from the American Horse Shows Association (now USA Equestrian), the Canadian Equestrian Federation and the Mexican federation, as well as $1,000 from the U.S. Combined Training Association and U.S. Dressage Federation. In addition, Howard Simpson, who’s now enthusiastically hosted the NAYRC at Tempel Farms 11 times since 1985, said that a couple of years ago the AHSA brought in State Line Tack as the presenting sponsor, with an additional $30,000 in money and products. Howard said it costs them approximately $1,500 per rider to run the event, but under FEI rules the maximum fee they can charge is a $425 stabling fee.
“Basically, 33 to 40 percent of the cost is covered,” said Howard. Because they believe in the cause, Howard and his wife, Martha, generously make up the difference. “It’s worth giving our money to. It’s that simple,” he said. That generosity is why Helen Krieble of High Prairie Farm in Colorado is the only other American who’s hosted the NAYRC in the last decade (1998 and 2000), and it won’t be there again since she’s given the facility to the state. (Tempel will host it in 2002, and it will likely go to Bromont, Que., in 2003.)
The personal commitment is why David is anxious about putting all the young riders’ eggs into the Simpson/Tempel Farms basket. “What’ll we do if Howard gets run over by a bus tomorrow?” he asked. But Howard said he doesn’t think our national organizations should devote any more of their valuable resources to the championships, noting that young riders are a relatively small percentage of the membership.
Instead, I think any additional support (financial or otherwise) should go to the true weak link in the young riders chain-he programs in the various areas, regions and zones, in all three disciplines, at all levels. Currently, the ability of teams and individuals to compete is directly related to the enthusiasm and competence of the adults running the program, whose involvement is usually short-lived by definition. Our organizations’ leaders need to find a way to add continuity to each program so that youngsters from all over the country can be certain of having an equivalent chance of competing every year, if they’re qualified. Perhaps our (someday) renewed national federation could develop a small administrative staff to support regional programs, using revenue from an annual NAYRC television production. And David fervently believes it should be on TV. “It’s a natural