Nick Culwell Named NSBA Foundation 2023 Youth Of The Year

The National Snaffle Bit Association Foundation has awarded its 2023 Youth Of The Year award to Nick Culwell, of Louisville, Mississippi.

The Youth of the Year award has been presented annually by the NSBA Foundation since 2017 to a deserving youth who has gone above and beyond to exhibit exemplary character in helping others through community service. 2023 marks the third year that the Susan Scott Memorial Scholarship has also been presented to the Youth Of The Year and the first year that an additional scholarship has been presented to the finalists. Nick will receive a $4,000 scholarship from the Susan Scott Memorial Fund along with a $500 award to a charity of his choice. Thanks to the generous support of NSBA membership, spearheaded by Susan’s daughter Nancy Ditty, her husband Seth and son Luke, the Susan Scott Memorial Fund has blossomed to additionally award $1,000 stipend to each of the four national finalists. 

Nick Culwell grew up showing horses and learned about the Equestrians With Disabilities classes while volunteering as a scribe at the Dixie Nationals.

“I learned about the value of these youth activities and how it helps those with disabilities,” he said. “As a scribe, I worked alongside NSBA Judge Dr. Clay Cavinder. From him, I leaned about the MSU Center for Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Wellness and the research they do with Dogwood Equine Connection Therapy Center.

Nick knew his background in breed associations could be valuable to the research, and began as an unpaid research intern working ten hours per week. Nick’s service project centered around Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which Nick has himself. Nick was diagnosed with a language developmental disorder along with ADHD at a young age. His skills improved with equine therapy, and when his brother joined him in riding, he learned that competition helped him keep focused.

“My goal was to assist Dogwood Equine Connect in understanding how these programs may shape the youth they work with and MSU in designing youth extension programs that facilitated positive equine interaction for ‘at-risk’ youth,” Nick explained. Working with the research team, he developed a project that surveyed families about the benefits of youth breed association programs for youth with ADHD. Nick has invested more than two years and more than 600 hours on the project, including designing a survey that was distributed at 12 various youth breed association events. After working with the center to evaluate the data, Nick presented the results at a national conference and published the results in a scientific journal.

Nick is a member of and participated in ABRA, AHA, ARHA, ApHC, AQHA, APHA, PHBA and PtHA as well as NSBA. He served as an officer and director at the state and national level within ApHC, AQHA, PHBA and PtHA.

Nick will begin his college career this fall at East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi, and plans to complete his bachelor’s degree at Mississippi State University, concentrating on communication with a focus in agriculture and leadership. He would like to become a judge and work in the area of public relations and communications to promote the equine industry and horse programs for youth, especially for at-risk youth and those with special needs.


About the NSBA Foundation

The National Snaffle Bit Association Foundation is the non-profit 501(c)3 arm of the National Snaffle Bit Association. Operating under a separate board of directors, the NSBA Foundation serves NSBA’s more than 20,000 members, the equine therapeutic community and the equine community at large through educational programming, scholarships, and financial assistance to equine professionals in crisis. The NSBA Foundation also works to keep animal welfare at the forefront of the equine industry. To learn more, please visit

Go to top