2009 Award Winners

2009 National Award Winners

Congratulations 2009 Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Exemplary Award Winners!

2009 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian
Recognition Award

Amanda Firnhaber
Reins of Life, Inc.
South Bend, Indiana
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

2009 PATH Intl. Child Equestrian Award
Michael Swan

C.H.U.M. Therapeutic Riding, Inc
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Mason, Michigan

PATH Intl. Independent Adult Equestrian Recognition Award
Sarah Smittle
Horses of Hope Riding Center Inc.,
Columbus, Kansas

PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian Recognition Award
Andrew Wash
Saddle Up!
Franklin, Tennessee
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

PATH Intl. Equine of the Year Award
Kleng
NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center
Bellingham, Washington

2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year
Recognition Award

Sara Reams
Calvin Center Therapeutic Riding Program
Hampton, Georgia

2009 PATH Intl. Instructor of the Year
Recognition Award

Nancy Hohmann
Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center
Windham, Maine
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

2009 PATH Intl. James Brady
Professional Achievement

Isabella (Boo) Martin
Horse Power Therapeutic Riding Center
Temple, New Hampshire
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009 PATH Intl. President's Award
David Forster
Former Treasurer, PATH Intl. Board of Trustees

2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Programs and Standards

Patti Coyle
Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
Brewster, New York
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Membership

Barbara Ford
Equi-Kids Therapeutic Riding
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Virginia Beach, Virginia

2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Education

  Memree Stuart
HorseMpower Inc.
Hawthorn, Florida

Region 1 Equine of the Year Willy Horse Power, Inc
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Temple, New Hampshire
Instructor of the Year Nancy Hohmann Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Windham, Maine
Volunteer of the Year Jeffrey Ridgway High Hopes Therapeutic Riding , Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Region 2 Equine of the Year Ebony Boy Special Equestrians, Inc Warrington, Pennsylvania
Instructor of the Year Joan Marie Twining Rose of Sharon Equestrian School, Inc. Glen Arm, Maryland
Volunteer of the Year John Clark Atlantic Riding Center for the Handicapped (ARCH)
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
Region 3 Equine of the Year Big Joe EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Instructor of the Year Joy Simon Misty Meadows Mitey Riders, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Waxhaw, North Carolina
Volunteer of the Year Robert Geize Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Clifton, Virginia
Region 4 Equine of the Year H F Heisman "Gunny" C.H.U.M. Therapeutic Riding, Inc
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Mason, Michigan
Instructor of the Year Winifred Spisak Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Volunteer of the Year Rom Botyrius Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Augusta, Michigan
Region 5 Equine of the Year Equity Freedom Ride, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Orlando, Florida
Instructor of the Year Alice Keeney Horses and the Handicapped of South Florida, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Boca Raton, Florida
Volunteer of the Year Sara Reams Calvin Center Therapeutic Riding Program Hampton, Georgia
Region 6 Equine of the Year Skip Sizzler Nature's Edge Therapy Center Rice Lake, Wisconsin
Instructor of the Year Sally Rief DelGiudice River Valley Riders Bayport, Minnesota
Volunteer of the Year Bill Eckblad Freedom Farm
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Waverley, Minnesota
Region 7 Equine of the Year Tuff Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy (HETRA)
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Valley, Nebraska
Instructor of the Year Jodi Teal Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy (HETRA)
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Valley, Nebraska
Volunteer of the Year Jeane Whittenburg Therapeutic Horsemanship
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wentzville, Missouri
Region 8 Equine of the Year True Eyed Jack "JJ" Equest
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wylie, Texas
Instructor of the Year Heather Hernandez Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Lubbock, Texas
Volunteer of the Year Heather Cusick SIRE, Houston's Therapeutic Equestrian Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Hockley, Texas
Region 9 Equine of the Year Kleng NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center Bellingham, Washington
Instructor of the Year Tracy McConnachie Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Woodinville, Washington
Volunteer of the Year Emily Borium Leg Up for Kids Arlington, Washington
Region 10 Equine of the Year Snowy River Cochise Area Network of Therapeutic Equestrian Resources (CANTER)
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Instructor of the Year Tamara Merritt Hearts and Horses Fort Collins, Colorado
Volunteer of the Year Frank Campbell Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Longmont, Colorado
Region 11 Equine of the Year Little Bit Equi-Ed
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Santa Rosa, California
Instructor of the Year Connie Weinsoff Hearts Adaptive Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Santa Barbara, California
Volunteer of the Year Fred Nuthall Ivey Ranch Park Oceanside, California

More about the Award Winners

2009 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian Recognition Award

Amanda (Mandy) Firnhaber
Amanda Firnhaber displays a remarkable can-do attitude. Her center staff says of her, “ she develops amazing relationships with the people who surround her at riding lessons, demonstrating genuine interest in the well-being and interest of each individual around her. She brightens days and brings smiles to everyone’s faces.”

It might be difficult at times to tell if Amanda Firnhaber is more deserving of being honored tonight as an equestrian or a volunteer.  Mandy is a rider at Reins of Life of South Bend, California, where she has been taking lessons for several years. As a rider, Mandy has been an enthusiastic student and dedicated learner, constantly improving her horsemanship skills on and off her mount and spreading her positive outlook among staff and students alike. Mandy, who rides with a leader and two sidewalkers, is always up for a new challenge and isn’t afraid to let her instructor know when she’s ready to try something more difficult – like learning to jump a nine-inch crossrail or attempt a complicated pattern.

Mandy doesn’t just show up at Reins of Life to ride. She also gives her time as a spokesperson for the center and the equine-assisted therapy industry as a whole, speaking at fundraisers and public events in her community.  She recently gave tours of her center and answered questions for the local Chamber of Commerce, and spoke about her experiences with therapeutic riding at a Gleaner’s Society dinner event.  Mandy and her mother have even been asked to sit on the Board of Directors at Reins of Life. Despite the challenges she faces, Mandy has remained a positive, passionate and giving rider at Reins of Life, and an amazing equestrian to boot.

2009 PATH Intl. Child Equestrian Award

Michael Swan
Perhaps more precious than diamonds are the infectious grin and the occasional warm hug of Michael Swan, a child with autism. In the eight years Michael Swan has been riding at CHUM Therapeutic Riding Center of Mason, Michigan, he has accomplished a great deal both on and off his horse. When he first started at CHUM, Michael was reluctant to speak up around new people and had difficulty with unfamiliar environments.

Now Michael is developing relationships with everyone at CHUM and shares his thoughts and excitement about his lessons. He is constantly learning about horses and improving his horsemanship, taking an ever more active role in his lessons.  He even owns his own horse, whom he helps groom, tack and care for almost entirely on his own.

Not only does Michael ride his own horse in lessons with only a spotter, but he also participates in parades, demonstrations and horse shows.  In fact, last year Michael showed his horse at the fair in CHUM’s therapeutic class and earned a silver medal in his age group at the county 4H. He also participated in “Little International,” showing cows, pigs, sheep and goats. Anyone who’s worked with these animals knows how ornery they can be, but Michael was patient and persistent and did an amazing job – even despite being licked from head to toe by his dairy cow!

“It was the longest, hottest three hours,” said Bonnie Depue, CHUM center director. “We were all thoroughly over-stimulated, but Mike was amazing!” This is quite the victory.

Michael is a remarkable young man and we’re all thrilled to introduce Michael tonight as the Child Equestrian of the Year and to celebrate his gifts.

2009 PATH Intl. Independent Adult Equestrian Recognition Award

Sarah Smittle
Sarah Smittle has been riding at Horses of Hope Riding Center of Baxter Springs, Kansas, for 12 years now.  In that time Sarah has developed a devotion to Horses of Hope and an enthusiasm for her sport that few can match.

When Sarah began riding she could barely muck a stall, but she has now progressed to showing with her horse, Charlie, at the state level. Sarah was the first rider in the state of Kansas to participate in the Equestrians with Disabilities (EWD) classes at American Quarter Horse Association shows, and has been an integral force in establishing these classes as permanent divisions in all Kansas shows. Sarah won the AQHA High Point Equestrians With Disabilities Trail award in 2007 and is always around to cheer and encourage her fellow riders.  She is now working on establishing an EWD class at the AQHA World Show, where she one day hopes to compete.

Sarah is an incredible advocate for her center, acting as a goodwill ambassador for Horses of Hope and spreading the word about equine-assisted therapy. Sarah and her family raise funds for the center by crafting and selling horsehair pottery and she gladly helps groom horses or muck stalls when the center needs a hand.  It is this dedication not only to her center but to the industry as a whole that makes Sarah a shining example of PATH Intl.’s Independent Adult Equestrian of the Year.

2009 PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian Recognition Award

Andrew Wash
17-year old Andrew Walsh  wants to ride his horse independently at the walk, trot and canter. In the 13 years that he has ridden at Saddle Up of Franklin, Tennessee, he has mastered the at the walk and trot. When he first attempted to canter on a lunge line he didn’t want to kick too hard and hurt Elvis, his headstrong pony. After three weeks, Andrew cued Elvis correctly and got to canter. The folks at Saddle up thought they were familiar with Andrew’s great smile. That day they saw a new smile, bigger than ever before.

Volunteer Lisa Mitchell says, “I have worked with many different children. I have to say I was blown away by the amazing attitude and abilities of one of the students—Andrew Walsh.”

Of course all the staff and volunteers will tell you what a joy it is to work with Andrew. His caring, calm and considerate attitude makes him a fast friend to any person or animal he meets at Saddle Up. The horses bond quickly with him because of his quiet, gentle demeanor and willingness to take part in every aspect of their care, from grooming and feeding to mucking stalls. And they seem to like checking themselves out in the mirrors with him. They do look impressive when they are in Andrew's affectionate hands.

New volunteers can be sure that any tack questions they have will be thoughtfully answered by Andrew, who has helped train many inexperienced volunteers on how to groom and tack the horses.

As Andrew is perfects his canter on the lunge line, we can’t help but believe that if his past achievements are any indication he’ll be loping “off-line” in no time.  Andrew’s kindness and diligence make him an excellent student, friend and PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian of the Year.

2009 PATH Intl. Equine of the Year Recognition Award

Kleng
Norwegian Fjord horses are said to have been in evidence during the time of the Vikings, but PATH Intl.’s equine of the year, originally hailed from Vancouver Island, where he was related to most of the other Norwegian Fjords on the island. Kleng has worked as a therapy horse almost his whole life, serving as one of NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center’s trusted mounts for 13 years. Trained since the age of four to work in equine-assisted activities, Kleng performs in many disciplines, in many environments and for many ability levels.  “He thrives from lots of riding and handling and always seems to look forward to ‘what’s next,’” says Owner Julia Bozzo, “especially at the end of the session when he gets a carrot.”

Kleng has “a strong steady walk, a tireless trot and a ‘rocking horse’ canter,” according to his owner. A gentleman and a dandy horse, Kleng jumps, trail rides, lunges well with a rider or vaulter and is trained to pull a cart.

Kleng’s personality is so steady that early in his therapeutic riding career he responded to the bouquet of purple balloons that arrived at the ring by leading his leader and rider over to get a better look and a sniff of the new purple arrivals. Kleng’s broad back, smooth gait and friendly, calm personality make him an integral part of NorthWest’s therapeutic riding program, and he is PATH Intl.’s 2009 Equine of the Year.

2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year Recognition Award

Sara Reams
“It’s my birthday; it’s a beautiful day; I’m riding a horse; life is good!” exclaimed Volunteer Sara Reams of the Calvin Center of Hampton, Georgia.  Marywill duDomaine, who also volunteers at the Calvin Center still remembers that day and  how impressed she was.

When the Calvin Center started its equine-assisted therapy program nine years ago, Sara Reams was present at the initial planning meeting. She hasn’t stopped working to build, improve and maintain the program ever since.

In the past nine years, Sara has been involved in almost every aspect of the Calvin Center’s operation. She’s participated in the governance and administration of the equine program, serving on the board of trustees and the search committee to find a new executive director. She leads horses in classes and spends hours outside of class time caring for the equines and keeping the center’s facilities in working order. 

Sara also participates in the center’s fundraising efforts, coordinating the Benefit Train Ride, organizing a new silent auction and helping out at the Young Volunteers Work Day.  She even wrote a grant proposal for the Calvin Center that successfully secured $10,000 in funding last year.  Sara shows equal enthusiasm when sharing her ideas for improvements and she does when learning new ones.  Whether scrubbing buckets or researching better toilets, Sara shows boundless dedication for the Calvin Center and all its participants, and that is why she’s the 2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year.

2009 PATH Intl. Instructor of the Year Recognition Award

Nancy Hohmann
“For three years I have sat in the viewing arena each week while Nancy Hohmann, Julia and a volunteer, together with a wonderful horse named Goosebumps, have spent an hour working through one of Nancy’s fantastic lessons,” wrote Robert L. McArthur, Ph.D, whose daughter, Julia rides at Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center in Windham, Maine. “Hats, maps, puzzles, vocabulary words, rings, stuffed animal, flamingos, mazes, wizards, characters from novels: these are all standard features.”

Nancy has all the qualities of a good PATH Intl. instructor. She teaches students proper horsemanship, safe horse handling and correct posture. Her exercises improve the strength, flexibility and motor skills of her charges. She allows her students enough independence to develop confidence and hone problem-solving skills. However, Nancy’s versatility and vast array of teaching methods make her a great PATH Intl. instructor. As parents attest, she challenges her students with thought-provoking questions like “How is a tree like a horse?” and welcomes all kinds of creative answers.

Maryellen Wilson, the mother of bright, happy eight-year old Nathaniel whose hearing, sight and balance have been profoundly impaired since birth admits she was initially skeptical about Nathan’s participation in therapeutic riding. She wrote “[I] was quickly won over as I watched Nancy skillfully introduce riding to my delighted child and two of his peers.

A former teacher, Nancy uses her experience, her friendly personality, her creativity and her impressive horsemanship to keep her students engaged and  motivated. Nancy recently organized a precision drill team, working with riders of all different abilities to present an amazing drill routine at the grand opening of Riding to the Top’s new arena. Nancy’s commitment, creativity and exemplary teaching make her more than worthy of PATH Intl.’s 2009 Instructor of the Year award.

2009 PATH Intl. President’s Award

David Forster, Past PATH Intl. Board Treasurer
David has been a good friend to PATH Intl. for many years as a result of his previous position with PATH Intl.'s long-time conference sponsor, Professional’s Choice. Regardless of the fact that he no longer works with them, he continues to support the PATH Intl. mission through his board involvement. For two years, David has spent countless hours either taking personal responsibility for PATH Intl.'s financial reporting or for easing the PATH Intl. finance and HR director into her new role and supporting her through the transition. "I asked David to be treasurer my first year and I basically told him it was going to be a breeze," said outgoing PATH Intl. President Teresa Morris with a wry grin.David is patient beyond belief and full of integrity. PATH Intl. is so lucky to have his support. And he's an awesome mule rider!

PATH Intl.’s 2009 James Brady Professional Achievement Award

Isabella (Boo) Martin
Boo is the owner and executive director of the Horse Power Therapeutic Riding Center in Temple, New Hampshire. She has been involved in equine-assisted activities including equine-facilitated learning for decades. Besides being a PATH Intl. Certified Master Level Instructor and a PATH Intl. Certified Driving Instructor, Boo has served as a volunteer on many PATH Intl. committees, including the Certification Committee and the Equine Welfare Task Force. She has taught classes, hosted workshops and helped countless other professionals become PATH Intl. certified.

Boo co-founded the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association with Barbara Rector twelve years ago to specifically address the mental component in our industry within PATH Intl.’s scope of programs. Now she is playing a part in better integrating these mental health subjects into our association as a whole. Along with her incredible work at PATH Intl. and EFMHA, Boo has hosted annual “Horses for Healing” conferences for the past fifteen years, which serve to expand and improve the way mental health issues are addressed in equine-assisted activities and provide resources for other instructors and mental health practitioners. She’s penned guides to equine-facilitated mental health with co-author Leslie Moreau and taught many workshop series for instructors and practitioners about both business administration and equine-facilitated learning. Programs at her own center now include innovative activities like youth gardening programs and special events for veterans.

Boo's innovation, commitment and passion are unparalleled, and she’s used that passion to benefit others in so many different ways. She’s been an advocate, entrepreneur and mentor, and we know her hard work and enthusiasm will continue long into the future.

2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership Recognition Award: Programs and Standards

Patti Coyle
Patti Coyle is the current Co-Chair of the Certification Oversight Committee for PATH Intl. and has been leading projects like the new Onsite Workshop and Certification process offering extended workshops for participants and reviewing the Equine Specialist certification criteria. Patti was part of the original team that implemented mentor training and designed the manual to support that training. She is a PATH Intl. Lead Evaluator for On-Site Workshop and Certifications, a PATH Intl. Lead Site Visitor for accrediting PATH Intl. Centers, a member of the Education Business Model task force, past PATH Intl. Region 1 Representative, past State of CT Co-Chair, past President and Treasurer of New England Special Activities Resources, Inc. (NESAR) and past member of the PATH Intl. Certification Committee.

A “B” level pony clubber, she volunteered at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding for 4 years before enrolling in the PATH Intl. Approved Instructor Training Course at High Hopes. She is a PATH Intl. Advanced Instructor affiliated with both High Hopes and Pegasus and is currently the Executive Director of Pegasus. The PATH Intl. staff appreciates her quiet, patient, deliberative and supportive approach to the work with which PATH Intl. is charged.

2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership Recognition Award: Membership

Barbara Ford
Barb Ford is the voice on the Center Advancement Committee, formerly the Administrative Committee, who asks, "Great idea; now how do we get it done?" Her insight has helped the committee focus on outcomes since she joined the group in 2006. She chaired the 2009 Region 3 Conference Task Force, presenting a highly successful event in March 2009. She successfully completed a $5 million capital campaign to move the Equi-Kids program, of which she is the founder, executive director and head instructor, into a new facility.

Barb has served on the PATH Intl. Rider Fund Task Force and as the Region 3 EFMHA Liaison, and has been a member and leader of the Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia since its inception.

2009 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership Recognition Award: Education

Memree Stuart
A lifelong horsewoman, Memree Stuart has made significant contributions to PATH Intl. and EFMHA. Memree has been the Program Director of HorsePower, Inc., an equine facilitated psychotherapy program, for the past 10 years. She served on the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association Board of Directors for two terms and has now served on the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees for two terms and is rolling off the board this year.

Memree contributed significantly to developing curriculum for EFMHA in her capacity as chair of the EFMHA Equine Specialist Curriculum Task Force. She helped to create the content for the PATH Intl. Equine Specialist workshop, maintains and serves as faculty for the workshop. She is the current chair of the PATH Intl. Equine Specialist Certification Committee developing the criteria and testing for the Equine Specialist certification.

 

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