Horse Show Class Guidelines
In order to provide pleasure classes for equestrians with disabilities, NSBA has added classes that may be offered at any show utilizing NSBA approved judges. NSBA classes for Equestrians With Disabilities are offered for exhibitors who can ride independently as well as those who need support (see details below). To offer these NSBA approved classes, an NSBA Show Application must be completed and submitted to the NSBA office 90 days prior to the show. Guidelines for completing the NSBA Show application can be found on the NSBA website www.nsba.com.
Shows may apply for any or all of the following classes:
- NSBA EWD Showmanship
- NSBA EWD Walk Trot Horsemanship-Independent Rider
- NSBA EWD Walk Trot Western Pleasure-Independent Rider
- NSBA EWD Walk Trot Western Pleasure-Supported Rider
- NSBA EWD Walk Trot Trail-Independent Rider (can be offered as dual-approved or as a standalone NSBA class)
- NSBA EWD Walk Trot Trail-Supported Rider
- NSBA EWD Walk Trot Equitation-Independent Rider
- NSBA EWD Walk Trot Hunter Under Saddle-Independent Rider
The NSBA Equestrians With Disabilities Guidelines are adapted from AQHA Equestrians with Disabilities and Special Olympics Summer Sports Rules-Equestrian.
- Exhibitors are encouraged, but not required to be members of the National Snaffle Bit Association. Exhibitors must be an NSBA member in order to earn NSBA points and qualify for the NSBA Show Perks program and NSBA Year End High Point awards.
- Riders or their families do not have to own the horse. The horse, however, must be registered with one of the Alliance breeds, ABRA,AQHA, APHA, ApHC, IBHA, PHBA, PtHA, and POA. Only Geldings or mares may be shown. No stallions are allowed. A horse may be shown only once in each class.
- Each participant in the NSBA Independent and Supported classes must be at least 8 years of age and have a diagnosed mental or physical condition as listed below and attested to by a licensed medical physician on the NSBA or breed association Special Diagnosis Form (www.nsba.com) which must be submitted with the entry form.
- Eligible conditions for participation in the NSBA Independent and Supported classes include: amputation, Arthrogryposis, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, Batten’s Disease, cerebrovascular accident (stroke), cerebella ataxia, Cerebral Palsy, Coffin Lowry Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Down Syndrome**must have negative cervical x-ray for Atlantoaxial Instability, dwarfism, Fragile X Syndrome, Freidrick’s Ataxia, Guillan Barre Syndrome, hearing impairment, Hunter’s Syndrome , Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, cognitive disabilities, Microcephaly, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Post Polio Syndrome, Prader Willie Syndrome, Rhett Syndrome, Spina Bifida, spinal cord injury, Tourette’s Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, trisomy abnormalities and visual impairments.
- Participants in the Independent and Supported rider classes must present a Special Adaptive Equipment form available from the National Snaffle Bit website (www.nsba.com) which must be completed by a PATH, Intl certified Instructor, certified Special Olympic Coach or certified therapeutic riding instructor, indicating the adaptive equipment required for the participant.
- Each exhibitor in an independent class must have a spotter in the arena. Spotters will not have contact with the horse or rider unless needed to assure safety or directed by a judge or ring steward. The spotter must be 16 years or older. A halter must be on each horse either over or under the bridle for use by the spotter if needed. The spotter must have a suitable lead in case of need. The lead may not be fastened to the bit. A lead line must be attached to the halter and not to the bridle. Chains may not be used over or under the nose but may be looped through the bottom halter ring.
- The exhibitor in a supported class will have the presence of a leader and may need the support of one or two sidewalkers. Leaders will have contact with the horse using a loose lead attached without a chain to a halter in a manner that does not interfere with reining of the horse. A lead line must be attached to the halter and not to the bridle. Chains may not be used over or under the nose but may be looped through the bottom halter ring.
- All supported riders must be able to hold reins.
- A five minute warm-up is provided for each EWD class during which coaches may instruct their riders in the show arena.
- Classes will be split at 10 horses unless waived by participants.
- Once the class has started, unauthorized assistance from horse leaders, spotters and side walkers will result in penalties. Side walkers may not give verbal commands or extra physical prompting, except in case of emergency.
- A rider may not show in any other youth, amateur or open categories while showing in the Equestrians with Disabilities classes. A rider may show in only one of the Equestrians with Disabilities categories, Independent or Supported. If a rider’s condition deteriorates so that the rider can no longer ride as an independent rider, but now needs support, this must be documented by the physician and the certified PATH instructor.
Attire and Equipment:
- Exhibitors will be responsible for providing their own mounting systems.
- Equipment should conform to the needs of the competitor and be suitable for the horse. Adaptive equipment will be allowed as listed on the Special Adaptive Equipment Form which must be submitted with the entry form. Riders may use adaptive equipment without penalty. (Note: Riders may in no way be attached to the horse or saddle.)
- Acceptable adaptive equipment includes: audio communications, bareback pads, boot adaptations, dowel reins, hand holds (flexible and/or rigid), helmets, laces to tie stirrups or leathers to girth or cinch, ladder reins, loop reins, rein handles, rein handle tethers, rubber bands, saddle blocks, wedges, cushions, safety stirrups, seat savers, surcingles, whips (one or two). Other equipment will be considered upon request. Cue cards may be used for hearing impaired athletes. In order for the cues to be universal, they should be designated as follows: 1=Walk, 2=Sitting Trot/Jog, 3=Posting Trot, 4=Canter/Lope, 0=Reverse, Universal Stop Sign=Halt
- English classes - riders must wear a properly fitted and fastened ASTM® approved protective helmet with harness. No equipment is allowed that would in any way affix the rider to the horse or saddle with the exception of light rubber bands. Safety stirrups (Peacock, S-shaped irons or Devonshire) are required if rider is unable to wear boots with a heel. Peacock irons are recommended in all cases. Proper English attire is required as set forth in the NSBA Official Handbook.
- Western classes - riders must wear a properly fitted and fastened ASTM® approved protective helmet with harness. A Western hat may be affixed over the helmet. No equipment is allowed that would in any way affix the rider to the horse or saddle with the exception of light rubber bands. Safety stirrups (covered or other approved safety stirrups) are required if rider is unable to wear boots with a heel. Proper Western attire is required as set forth in the NSBA Official Handbook.
- Bridles must be appropriate to the class entered and meet the requirements listed in the NSBA Official Handbook.
- Halters are required for all Independent and Supported classes. The halter may be over or under the bridle as long as it doesn't interfere with the use of the bit or the reins.
- A lead line must be attached to the halter and not to the bridle. Chains may not be used over or under the nose but may be looped through the bottom halter ring.
- Exhibitors that become NSBA members are eligible to earn points in their respective Equestrians With
Disabilities class. Points will count towards a year-end award.
- As an NSBA member, the exhibitor will also earn ShowPerks Rewards for each point that they earn in a Riders With Disabilities class.
The following guidelines are recommended for the Equestrians with Disabilities Trail Class:
- Walk overs set at 24” or intervals thereof
- Trot overs set at 3’ or intervals thereof
- Back through set at 36” minimum
- No elevated obstacles
At least three obstacles must be used. Permitted obstacles include the following:
- Ride through an open gate. The rider must not be required to open or close the gate.
- Ride over 1-3 logs following the interval guidelines above for each gait. The path over the logs can be a straight line or curved at a walk. The path for the logs must be a straight line at a jog. If the path is curved, there must be enough space to allow the side walkers in a supported class to negotiate safely.
- Walk a serpentine around cones. There must be enough space to allow the side walkers in a supported class to negotiate safely.
- Back in a straight line between two logs following the interval guidelines above or using cones to designate the start and end of the back.
- Ride over a wooden bridge. (Suggested minimum width shall be 36” wide and at least six feet long). Bridge must be sturdy, safe and negotiated at a walk only. Bridge must allow the side walkers in a supported class to negotiate safely.
- An obstacle consisting of four logs or rails, each 5’ to 7’ long, laid in a square. Each contestant will enter the square by riding over log as designated. When all four feet are inside the square, rider should execute a turn, as indicated, and depart. The maximum turn will be 1/4 turn.
The following obstacles are prohibited in the Equestrians With Disabilities classes:
- Water Hazard
- Serpentine obstacles at a jog or back
- Carry object from one part of arena to another
- Put on and remove slicker
- Remove and replace materials from mailbox
- Side pass
- PVC pipe
- Rocking or moving bridges
- Flames, dry ice, fire extinguisher, etc
- Ground ties