National Snaffle Bit Association

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National Snaffle Bit Association
National Snaffle Bit Association.jpg
SportPleasure riding
Countries United States
Most recent
United States Dynamic Deluxe
Official websiteNSBA

The National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) is an equestrian organization in the United States that began by promoting and staging Western Pleasure events in 1983. Since then, focus has expanded to promoting the show horse at every level across multiple disciplines. The association is currently headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois, United States.[1][2] The NSBA has a partnership with seven alliance breed organizations, including the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), American Paint Horse Association (APHA), American Buckskin Registry Association (ABRA), Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC), International Buckskin Horse Association (IBHA) Palomino Horse Breeders of America (PHBA) and Pony of the Americas Club, Inc. (POAC) in order that associations can benefit from the many rules and regulations they have in common.[3]


There was a long period of chaos with all the involved parties of pleasure riding meeting in various places and attempting to improve the sport, while a few good men complained on the sidelines. Then these few decide to its time to take a big risk to do something exceptional for the horse. Knowing that it is a long-term endeavor, these men take a leap of faith and meet in Dallas, Texas, to shape a plan in detail. The result was the National Snaffle Bit Association.[4]

It started with donations gathered from the most active, mostly trainers, riders, and owners. With the funds collected, they used it as seed money; thus the NSBA was founded in 1983. Many members can rightfully claim credit for getting the association started. But a handful were crucial - Leo Barbera, Walter Hughes, Jerry Stanford, and Jack Benson are some. These cowboys were intent on promoting gentler training methods, more authentic gaits, and longevity in show horses. They helped to protect the horse and ensured a lasting future for the show horse. One of the changes was to have trainers stop pressuring the two-years old to have them ready to show bridles in the summer. Rather, they wanted them shown in snaffle bits.[4]

"We first formed the National Pleasure Horse Association but it didn’t quite have the leadership that was needed to get off the ground," says trainer and judge Brad Gibby, who was there from the very beginning when NSBA was formed. "That’s when we came together again and our vision for NSBA was for it to be a place to market our western pleasure horses and for us to slow down a bit and not push the horses as much as we had in the past." There was quite a bit of adjustment after the switch.[4]

When the NSBA first started, it was a Western Pleasure based association only. When they welcomed June Warren onto the Board in 1986, she advocated for the hunter under saddle horse. Not long after, she had lassoed cowboys and a hunter under saddle division was born. And for every addition to Western pleasure, she made sure a commensurate addition was made for hunter horses.[4]

The association continued to grow with a Stallion Incentive Fund (SIF) and then a Breeders Championship Futurity (BCF). A new program was added for rail horses. The BCF was expanded to include trail and western riding. The show transitioned to the NSBA World Championship Show. The NSBA says it is a combination of programs and people that has made their association so successful.[4]


NSBA Board[edit]

NSBA's 2021 officers reflect a broad range of experience and background around the horse industry. This dynamic group includes professional horse trainers, business owners and nonprofessionals who all share a love for the horse and a passion for the horse industry and works together to develop and maintain the policies, programs and direction of the association.

2021 NSBA Board Members
President Clay MacLeod
President Elect Janet Gunn
First Vice President Charles Cannizzaro
Second Vice President Kevin Dukes
Secretary Doug Huls
Treasurer Michael Tidwell
Past President Johne Dobbs
Directors Laina Banks, Maggie Bellville, Lori Bucholz, Richard Carr, Denton DeBuhr, Phil Harris, Kellie Hinely, Rebecca Hogan, Chris Jones, Kelly McDowall, Cody Parrish and Jim Searles

Hall of Fame[edit]

The National Snaffle Bit Association Hall of Fame was created to recognize extraordinary athletes, individuals, riders, and horses in the show horse industry. These inductees are tracked in a separate article.

Alliance Breed Organizations[edit]

These are the breeds that NSBA currently recognizes:


Types of Classes and Disciplines[edit]

  • Halter
  • Showmanship
  • Longe Line
  • Western Pleasure
  • Western Riding
  • Trail
  • Hunter Under Saddle
  • Working Hunter
  • Equitation Over Fences
  • Hunter Hack
  • Horsemanship
  • Equitation


World Championship Show & Breeders Championship Futurity[edit]

The NSBA World Champion Show is a ten-day all-breed horse show that offers a payout of over $1,000,000 in cash and prizes. Exhibitors worldwide can qualify for this premier event by participating in NSBA approved shows or events throughout the qualification period each year. It is the only competition of its kind - rewarding excellence across breeds in western, hunter and ranch divisions.

Breeders Championship Futurity[edit]

The Breeders Championship Futurity is a futurity competition held annually in conjunction with the NSBA World Championship Show. There are over 40 BCF classes. Competitors must enroll to be eligible. Pleasure horses must follow various rules as per the BCF rulebook.[6]

Stakes classes[edit]

There are five stakes shows offered at the World Show. All recognized breeds are eligible to compete. Awards are given to the top 10 in each class. Prizes are money and a jackpot.[6]

NSBA Foundation[edit]

The NSBA Foundation was founded in the late 1990s to provide support to the horse community. The Foundation's mission is to enhance the well-being of the show horse community through various charitable programs that benefit horse people, horses and the relationships they create.

Born Out of Tragedy[edit]

The NSBA Foundation was created after an association past president's tragic experience. After watching the horse community rally together to support him following a serious truck and trailer accident in 1997, NSBA Past President Steve Heckaman saw the need to create a fund that could coordinate these efforts into a nonprofit to benefit others. Through the creation of the "NSBA Crisis Fund" from this event, the association expanded his efforts to formally create the NSBA Foundation.

Copying the structure of similar organizations that existed in the horse industry, the National Snaffle Bit Association Foundation officially formed in 2009 as a registered 501(c)3 organization.

Core Programs[edit]

The NSBA Foundation supports five core pillars of work including Animal Welfare; Education; Equestrians With Disabilities; the NSBA Crisis Fund and the Champion Fund.

NSBA Foundation Pillars of Work
Animal Welfare National Snaffle Bit Association is committed to the humane and proper treatment of all animals. NSBA has developed and enforces strict rules to ensure humane treatment of all horses. NSBA supports the development procedures that assure equality, fairness, safety, health and welfare for all participants.
Education The NSBA Foundation provides a variety of educational programs including scholarships, workshops, seminars and career-preparedness to enhance the lives of those in our community, create opportunities for growth and the protect the future of the equine industry. Some of these programs include the Youth Scholarship, Tomorrows Horsemen, Coaches Summit, Lunch & Learns, Youth of the Year Award, Susan Scott Memorial Fund and Youth Bootcamps.
Equestrians With Disabilities This program provides a venue for riders with physical and cognitive disabilities that love to compete by offering classes, including showmanship, horsemanship, equitation, trail, western pleasure and hunter under saddle. Classes are offered for exhibitors who can ride independently and for those who need support. These classes may be held at NSBA approved shows, US Para-Equestrian events or stand-alone events. In addition to Equestrians With Disabilities, the Foundation also promotes classes in which military members may compete on horseback, called Heroes On Horses. Riders who are disabled veterans or active duty “wounded warriors” who participate in PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes or have a Department of Veteran Affairs disability rating are eligible to participate. Heroes on Horses classes are held annually at the NSBA World Championship Show.
Crisis Fund The Crisis Fund was established to support equine professionals and their families who find themselves in a situation of financial need as a result of sudden and demonstrable hardship, disaster or serious physical illness or injury. The Crisis Fund may provide information, resources, potential financial support and local contacts that may assist recipients and their family to rebuild their business and meet both current and on-going needs.
Champion Fund The Champion Fund provides unrestricted donations to be directed to specific programmatic needs at the discretion of the NSBA Foundation Board of Directors. It is designed to offset new program startup costs, administrative costs, administrative expenses, or financial shortfalls, in programmatic efforts that are currently not covered in special project status.

NSBA Foundation Board[edit]

2021 NSBA Foundation Board
Chairman Carrie Oakley
Chair Elect and Treasurer Laurel Champlin
Secretary Beth Hartman
Past Chair Jennifer Hulcher
Board Members Ryan Cottingim, Whitney Lagace, Mike Laplace, Page Simpson and Judy Smith

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mission". National Snaffle Bit Association. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  2. ^ "IHSA Welcomes National Snaffle Bit Association as Sponsor". Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  3. ^ "Recognized Breed Associations". AQHA.
  4. ^ a b c d e Lynn, Stephanie (August 16, 2015). "The History of the NSBA: Where It All Began". GoHorseShow. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  5. ^ "Recognized Breeds". National Snaffle Bit Association. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "NSBA 101: Everything you Need to Know About the World Show". SUCCEED Equine. August 10, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2019.

External links[edit]