Equestrians With Disabilities

Inclusion of Competition

Evidenced by a long and storied progression of standards for show horse events, an important aspect of National Snaffle Bit Association’s mission is providing an opportunity for horsemen and women and their horses to showcase their abilities in a venue that provides a fair and level playing field. NSBA has developed class divisions for horses and exhibitors based on their lifetime earnings that allows horses and riders to compete against their peers of similar skill and experience levels.

The inclusion of competition for Equestrians With Disabilities into horse shows, exhibits and events with a division all their own was the natural next step of that same mission. The Foundation’s promotion of Equestrians With Disabilities provides opportunities for riders with physical and cognitive disabilities to compete with horses.

As part of its regular slate of class offerings, NSBA has curated a variety of approved classes in which Equestrians With Disabilities may participate. Including Showmanship, Horsemanship, Equitation, Trail, Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle, classes are offered for exhibitors who can ride independently and those who need support. NSBA EWD classes may be held at NSBA approved shows, US Para-Equestrian events or may be stand-alone events included the NSBA World Championship Show.

Note: According to official NSBA rules and regulations, participants in the Equestrians With Disabilities competition must have a diagnosed mental or physical condition attest to by a licensed medical physician. An EWD Special Diagnosis Form must be completed, signed by a licensed medical doctor and submitted to NSBA prior to competing in approved classes for Equestrians With Disabilities.

GuidelinesSpecial DiagnosisSpecial EquipmentDisclaimer

Heroes On Horses

Healing Through Riding

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.

The NSBA Foundation initiated the Heroes on Horses effort in 2011 by hosting its first annual Heroes On Horses Western Pleasure – a class in which veterans compete for an NSBA World Championship title and awards during the NSBA World Championship Show.


Veterans in PATH Int. Equine Services programs are invited to participate in the NSBA World Championship Show “Heroes on Horses” competition.

  • Riders must be disabled veterans or active duty “wounded warriors”, who are participating in PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes programs, or have a Department of Veterans Affairs disability rating.
  • The individuals’ PATH facilities will be responsible for verifying the eligibility of riders participating in Equine Services for Heroes programs.
  • For Disabled Veterans who do not participate in a therapeutic riding program, please submit the Department of Veteran Affairs letter recording the dates of service, the Service-connected Disability Rating and the date it was awarded. Please black out all other personal information included in the letter, such as social security number and monthly award.
  • Horses are not required to be registered or owned by the rider or facility. If the veteran is unable to have a horse transported to Tulsa for the Heroes on Horses competition, several Therapeutic Riding Centers have offered to provide horses for those who need them.
  • A rider may not show in any youth, amateur or open categories while showing in the Equestrians With Disabilities classes. An exhibitor may show in only one of the Equestrians With Disabilities/Heroes On Horses categories; Independent or Supported. If a rider's condition deteriorates so that the rider can no longer ride as an independent rider, and now needs support, this must be documented by the physician and, if participating in a therapeutic riding program, the certified PATH instructor.
Eligibility OverviewEligibility Form

Sponsor A Rider

The NSBA Foundation provides support for riders participating in the Equestrians With Disabilities, and the Veteran Heroes on Horses programs, by assisting in funding their World Championship Experience. Through the "90 Riders In 90 Days" campaign, the Foundation is seeking 90 sponsors for 90 Equestrians With Disabilities and Heroes on Horses exhibitors .

Learn more