When asked to name the country’s top junior competitions, most of us would refer to the Big Eqs. But for many of America’s top young hunter riders, the year’s true highlight comes in the form of the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships, which have—and will—take place this month at two locations on each side of the country.

USEF Junior Hunter National Championships – West took place earlier this week at the Del Mar Horse Park in Del Mar, California, with the overall Grand Champion Award going to Hunter Siebel and Boss of Woodside, California. As we wait to see who will be crowned at the East Coast edition beginning this weekend (July 31 – August 1) at Hits-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York, here are a few things to know about one of the country’s most important junior championships.

What’s it all about? 

Established in 2001, the USEF Junior Hunter National Championship showcases the best junior hunters in the nation while providing riders with opportunities to meet and spend time with competitors from all over the country.

How many juniors participate? 

Each year, more than 700 eligible hunters qualify to compete in the prestigious final, which is held over two days at two different locations on the East and West Coast. Riders are allowed to compete in either competition, but not both in any one year.

How is it judged? 

The Championship is comprised of three phases: handy hunter, classic, and under saddle rounds taking place over two days. The highest cumulative score for all three phases determines the ultimate winner in each of the 3’3″ and 3’6″ sections, which are also divided by horse height into Small and Large Junior Hunters, and again by rider age group (15 & under, 16-17).

What do you win? 

Besides serious bragging rights? The USEF Junior Hunter National Championships – East will offer $60,000 worth of prize money for each division, divided among the top 10 placings in each class.

How is the Grand Champion determined? 

The Grand Champion award goes to the highest-scoring Junior Hunters in both the 3’3” and 3’6” sections. At the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships – West, Hunter Seibel and Boss (also owned by Laura Wasserman) placed second in the classic round and first in both the under saddle and the handy, rising to the top of the overall standings with a grand total of 262.6 points.

Siebel, who trains with Archie Cox, will be attending Stanford University in the fall and began riding Boss earlier this year. “It’s been getting better and better as I’ve been getting to know him, and this show was amazing for us,” Siebel said. “When it’s show time, he’s always ready to go and he makes it happen every time.”

-Photo credit: Captured Moment Photography/US Equestrian

You can watch the live stream of the USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East (July 31 – August 1) on the USEF Network or keep up with the Championship on Facebook. Get behind-the-scenes coverage of this and other equestrian events on the USEF Network’s FacebookTwitter, and Instagram accounts.