Qualifying requirements have been changed for the 2021 Built Ford Tough Youth World Show. Officials made the change due to the impact of COVID-19. * Photo by Shane Rux.

New Qualifying Format for 2021 AQHYA Built Ford Tough World

Traditional qualifying requirements will not be in effect for contestants at the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Built Ford Tough Youth World Show in 2021. 

The AQHA said that, although it had originally planned to return to traditional qualifying formats this year after suspending them in 2020, officials with the organization and its advisory boards 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.”

COVID-19 Impact

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, AQHA officials say there is a significant difference in the number of shows that have been available during the 2021 Ford Youth World qualifying period 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.”

Entry Process

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 at a later date.