How to Start a Driving Program
If you have experience with carriage driving, or would like to offer something outside of regular horseback riding at your Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Center, then starting a therapeutic driving program might be a good option for you. This discipline is becoming increasingly recognized for its therapeutic value, and PATH Intl. is working with our members and volunteer committeces to expand and improve our driving standards and certifications. The following is a good guideline to follow before implementing a driving program at your own center.
- Consult the PATH Intl. Driving Standards for center requirements.
- Identify a staff member who can become a PATH Intl. Certified Driving Instructor Level II. It is expected that a Level II driving instructor has the requisite skills to administer and develop a therapeutic driving program.
- Assess your program and community to determine the clients’ needs versus your center’s ability to serve. For instance, most fledgling driving programs do not start with teaching clients in wheelchairs or multiple students per lesson.
- Identify a financial plan that will support your program. Driving will require new expenses related to horse care and conditioning, instructor credentialing and equipment purchase and maintenance. A sound plan to support a new program is highly recommended. Funding sources may include local driving clubs, driving events, grants and private donations.
- Identify potential therapeutic driving equines within your program or outside of your program. Horses experienced in driving in a variety of environments and venues are your best option. A great driving horse stands still, responds well to voice and whip and has at least three years of previous driving experience.
- Get driving lessons! Network with other drivers, participate in formal lessons and attend a peer review. If you don’t know how to drive you will not be able to teach others to drive. Practice your teaching skills by instructing individuals without disabilities on how to drive, which can strengthen your ability to teach driving concepts and understand the progression of acquiring driving skills.
- Attend a PATH Intl. Driving Workshop to learn the skills and standards specific to PATH Intl.’s Driving Instructor Certification.
- Attend a PATH Intl. Driving Certification, or have your designated instructor attend to become PATH Intl. certified.