The National Snaffle Bit Association Foundation has awarded its 2022 Youth Of The Year award to Ian McFarlin, of Tallahassee, Florida.
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. 2022 marks the second year that the Susan Scott Memorial Scholarship has also been presented to the Youth Of The Year. Ian will receive a $4,000 scholarship from the Susan Scott Memorial Fund along with a $500 award to a charity of his choice.
Ian has served more than 550 hours volunteering for various service organizations throughout his community, but he spends the majority of his volunteer time with Hand and Hearts For Horses, an equine-assisted therapy program in rural Georgia.
“It didn’t take much to convince me to get involved with equine-related charity, but I immediate felt a special connection to Hands And Hearts For Horses,” Ian said.
“I have an amazing sibling who is on the autism spectrum and who also has a mild form of cerebral palsy. He is probably the smartest person I have ever met and he is an incredible example of how ‘differently-abled’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘less-abled.’ I am passionate about recognizing and encouraging all that our differently- abled peers can do and I believe that involvement with horses is one of the most valuable tools available to all humans to help us learn, grow and heal.”
Ian has worked as a leader/side-walker during lessons as well as serving as camp counselor, and also participates in special projects like improving the ring and footing at the facility as well as exercising horses and general farm chores.
“To me, volunteering is mostly about the small things,” he said. “It’s great to think about the big, world-changing opportunities that service can create, and we should be striving for those things, but for me volunteering at Hands And Hearts For Horses will always really be about the smiles on the faces of our riders and the contented senior horses munching happily away on their hay, knowing they have a forever home. After all, using our services to bring comfort and joy to those around us is what volunteering is all about.”
Ian has a range of interests including becoming an equine veterinarian, participating in the state or national political process or involvement in one of the equine industry’s governing bodies. He is an incoming freshman at the University of Florida majoring in engineering, with a long-term goal to attend veterinary school.
About the National Snaffle Bit Association and the National Snaffle Bit Association Foundation
Established in 1983, the National Snaffle Bit Association has expanded from its roots in the Western Pleasure discipline to recognize various disciplines and eight breed associations in competition. NSBA’s mission is to grow the show horse community through various equine programs and events where every activity benefits horses, breeders, owners and exhibitors alike.
The National Snaffle Bit Association has more than 20,000 active members and more than 44,000 registered horses across its eight alliance breed organizations. In 2021, NSBA members earned more than $13.6 million in monetary awards at NSBA-sanctioned horse shows. The association sanctioned nearly 600 horse show events and close to 200,000 horse show entries last year.
The National Snaffle Bit Association Foundation was established to enhance the well-being of the show horse community through various charitable programs that benefit horse people, horses and the relationships they create. The Foundation provides charitable programs that align with five core pillars of work, including Animal Welfare, the Trainer Crisis Fund, Education, Equestrians With Disabilities and the Champion Fund.
To learn more about the NSBA and the NSBA Foundation, please visit nsba.com.