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The NSBA-Created National Open Horse Show Association

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All photos by Ruehle Photographix

The National Open Horse Show Association – NSBA-created and dedicated to growing the horse show community

Read more about this newly created association and keep scrolling for this year’s NOHSA World Championship Show results!

By Delores Kuhlwein

When a big group of youth kids, followed by their parents, come storming up to the office at a horse show, everyone braces themselves.

“Uh, oh,” everyone in the office chimed when this happened recently at the National Open Horse Show Association World Show in September at C Bar C in Cloverdale, Indiana, but much to the delight of the staff, the group of youth and their parents were there to say ‘thank you’ as a group, and to introduce themselves.

It’s a perfect representation of the atmosphere cultivated at the family-oriented National Open Horse Show Association (NOHSA), whose mission is to grow the open horse show community, explains Stephanie Lynn, NOHSA Executive Director and NSBA Executive Director.

The creation of the association by NSBA is near and dear to the hearts of their staff, as they’re all still involved in their local boards and shows, Lynn explains.  “NSBA’s mission is to grow the horse show community, we feel we play a different role than the breed organizations do.”

However, they knew they also needed to answer the call for an open show catering to all breeds with the same mission but fostering growth in the open horse show community – with an end goal of providing a chance to compete for a championship. The result was the NOHSA, which Lynn explains, “is an opportunity to support local efforts, and to give the grass roots people who show at local levels to a place to celebrate and a place to ride for a championship, which creates a kind of energy that’s important to us.”

The decision to create the NOHSA didn’t come lightly – it came after research, education, and experience all staff had in their communities.  “When you look at the population, they want to achieve and succeed in a merit-based system,” Lynn says.  As a member of the Wisconsin Quarter Horse Association, she explains they were always trying to figure out how to bring that population to their shows, but it only happened when they gave away stalls.

So the creation of the NOHSA provided that community and others like them a starting point, she says, with the hope they will want to continue to excel and learn.  “We know there’s a percentage who will always want to stay close to home, and a percentage who will want to continue climbing that ladder.  We still feel we can play an integral role to help them come back to the where the breed associations can serve them.”

In fact, education is a major component of the association, with an emphasis on free clinics, the use of standard rules at their shows, and an accreditation system for open horse show judges. At this year’s world show, they added clinics addressing basic topics such as hat shaping, braiding, and banding.

Addressing Cost

NOHSA also wanted their feeder system to offer paths for people to afford showing and to feel welcome.  “It’s very intimidating for most young families and individuals new to the sport,” explains Lynn, “so you have provide opportunities to give them a voice and feel appreciated while feeling comfortable with people around them. Our qualifying is similar to NSBA, however, with no show approvals, no restrictions, and they’re required to go to three separate events.”

Besides a supportive atmosphere with a championship feel, this year’s NOHSA World Championship Show cut costs by utilizing volunteers, like Rebecca Irish from Blackhawk College, for example.  Lynn says this also encourages those starting out their future judging careers to continue to breed organizations.

In addition to using college volunteers, Lynn says, “Houston Huff, one of our NSBA graduates, held a clinic and guest judged for us to give the other judges a break and keep the show going.  Those are flexible pieces you can do at that level.”

Since facility costs are at an all-time high, they worked with C Bar C in Cloverdale, who Lynn praises for their accommodations for the event.

The Future Looks Bright

Most exciting, perhaps, is the tremendous growth NOHSA has experienced, especially after COVID tried to derail their plans. They formed in 2019 and COVID squashed their 2020 events, so 2021 was their first year to hold the NOHSA World Championship Show.

In 2022, the show drew exhibitors from 14 states, and in 2023, they held their third World Championship.   “We’re very excited about it,” reveals Lynn. “We’ve had lots of growth, and all the promotion has been done on social media and digital platforms.”

The promotion of showing local and with peers, rather than providing a place for the best of the best to school and practice, has paid off; they’re already reaching a portion of their target demographic.

“It’s a really nice horse show,” Lynn adds, “with a little over 1000 entries. We don’t want it to grow in days as we’re trying to provide that stepping stone and a means for success.”

They also achieved a goal of a family-friendly atmosphere.  “A lot of family members come to this horse show who don’t show, and the exhibitors are being supported by their families,” Lynn says. “We’re fortunate to be able to offer something to this wonderful community and we hope to see it grow in different ways.”

“Like all great endeavors, it takes a village,” Lynn concludes.  “A very small team on our staff has nurtured NOHSA to be a flourishing little association, and the open horse show community is alive and well.”


2023 High Point All Around award winners for the NOHSA World Championship Show


50 & Over – Susan Barker & BOURBON TRAIL

19 – 49 – Kristy Doyle & SUGAR ON THE SIDE

14 – 18 – Brody Lace & ROCK ME RIGHT

Youth 13 & Under – Payton Freuh & JJR BIGTIME TEXASCHIP

Small Fry 11 & Under – Carson Fry & SHOWMEWHATYOUGOT

Walk Trot – Jessica Hartzell & HE B DANCIN

Ranch – Diane Weaver & SHEZA CHEXY REDBUCK


For more information on the National Open Horse Show Association, visit, follow them on social media, give them a call:  847-625-7433.
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