2013 Award Winners

2013 PATH Intl. Award Winners

Congratulations 2013 PATH Intl. Exemplary Award Winners!

(Click on the photo to go to the winner's bio.)

adult-equestrian-Rachel 

2013 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian
Recognition Award
Rachel Hustis
Region 8
Equest
Wylie, TX
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

child-equestrian-miguel
2013 PATH Intl. Child Equestrian Recognition Award
Miguel Quintanilla
Region 7
BraveHearts at the Bergmann Centre
Poplar Grove, IL
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

ind-adult-talia 

PATH Intl. Independent Adult Equestrian Recognition Award
Talia Finer
Region 5
Freedom Ride, Inc.
Orlando, FL
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

 youth-lauren

 PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian Recognition Award
Lauren Wisegarver
Region 6
Freedom Farm
Waverly, MN
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

ES4H-Derrick-Perkins 

PATH International Equine Services for Heroes Equestrian of the Year
Derrick Perkins
Region 8
SIRE, Inc.
Hockley, TX
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

Sponsored by Bimeda/Equimax

 sis-gould-boo

PATH Intl. Sis Gould Award
Isabella "Boo" Martin
Region 1
Horse Power at Touchstone Farm
Temple, NH
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

EFP-Carlene 

PATH Intl. EFP/EFL Professional of the Year Award

Dr. Carlene Taylor, LPC, NCC
Region 5
Saint Marys, GA
LightHorse Healthcare, Inc.


 equine-reg-1

2013 PATH Intl. Equine of the Year Award
Mr. Wise Guy
Region 1
Wings and Hooves Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
Kingston, NH

Sponsored by American Quarter Horse Association

 volunteer-chris

2013 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year
Recognition Award

Chris Coyle
Region 1
High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Old Lyme, CT

Sponsored by AIM/Equine Network

 certified-professional-maryrose

2013 PATH Intl. Certified Professional of the Year Recognition Award

Maryrose Bornhorst
Region 3
Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Clifton, VA

Sponsored by Purina

 vet-mark-anderson

2013 PATH Intl. Veterianarian Recognition Award
Dr. Mark Anderson
Region 10
Horses with H.E.A.R.T., Inc.
Chino Valley, AZ

Sponsored by Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, makers of Adequan

 james-brady-gail-pace

2013 PATH Intl. James Brady
Professional Achievement

Gail Pace
Region 8
EQUEST
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wylie, TX

Sponsored by Equus Foundation

 

2013 PATH Intl. President's Award

Jim Harlan


 2013 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Membership

Kim Henning

2012 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Education

Debbie Anderson

2012 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Programs and Standards

Stefani Viktora

2013 Region Award Winners

Pictures coming soon to the region pages.

Region 1

Equine of the Year Mr. Wise Guy Wings and Hooves Therapeutic Riding, Inc. Kingston, NH
Certified Professional of the Year Kate Davis McKelvy

Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

Windham, ME
Veterinarian of the Year NA NA NA
Volunteer of the Year Chris Coyle High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Old Lyme, CT
Region 2
Equine of the Year Rayne EquiCenter, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Honeoye Falls, NY
Certified Professional of the Year Lesley Shear Circle of Hope Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Barnesville, MD
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Christopher Miller HorseAbility
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Old Westbury, NY
Volunteer of the Year Mindy Hersh HorseAbility
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Old Westbury, NY
Region 3
Equine of the Year Sugarfoot Healing Strides of VA Boones Mill, VA
Certified Professional of the Year Maryrose Bornhorst Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Clifton, VA
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Maureen McIntyre Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Clifton, VA
Volunteer of the Year Cathy Maddox Sprout Therapeutic Riding & Education Center Aldie, VA
Region 4
Equine of the Year Woodbourne Noble Heart

Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

Augusta, MI
Certified Professional of the Year Debbie Anderson Strides to Success
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Plainfield, IN
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Denise Burbary-Muston Banbury Cross Therapeutic Equestrian Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Oxford, MI
Volunteer of the Year Ashley Davis Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Augusta, MI
Region 5
Equine of the Year Second Edition LightHorse Healthcare Inc. Saint Marys, GA
Certified Professional of the Year Angela Reddish Freedom Ride, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Orlando, FL
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Bradley Newman Harmony Farms, Inc. Rockledge, FL
Volunteer of the Year Hilda Arroyo LightHorse Healthcare Inc. Saint Marys, GA
Region 6
Equine of the Year Standard Budget SMILES
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Darien, WI
Certified Professional of the Year Stephanie Clausen-Kubarth Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program Union Grove, WI
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Jamie Pribyl Freedom Farm
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Waverly, MN
Volunteer of the Year Cheryl Holt River Valley Riders Woodbury, MN
Region 7
Equine of the Year Zaar Exceptional Equestrians of Missouri Valley, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Washington, MO
Certified Professional of the Year Jen Wolsleben Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy (HETRA)
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Valley, NE
Veterinarian of the Year NA NA NA
Volunteer of the Year Jean O'Brien Main Stay Therapeutic Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Richmond, IL
Region 8
Equine of the Year Read's Noble Gil EQUEST
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wylie, TX
Certified Professional of the Year Brittany Aspen EQUEST
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wylie, TX
Veterinarian of the Year NA NA NA
Volunteer of the Year Jeannie Whittington EQUEST
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wylie, TX
Region 9
Equine of the Year Blesi fra Borgarfiroi Forward Stride
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Beaverton, OR
Certified Professional of the Year Joan Myers Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Woodinville, WA
Veterinarian of the Year NA NA NA
Volunteer of the Year Pete Stephenson Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center Bellevue, ID
Region 10
Equine of the Year Carlos Loving Thunder Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Rio Rancho, NM
Certified Professional of the Year Saebra Pipoly Horses Help
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Phoenix, AZ
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Mark Anderson Horses with H.E.A.R.T., Inc. Chino Valley, AZ
Volunteer of the Year Betsy Byrne Colordo Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Longmont, CO
Region 11
Equine of the Year NA NA NA
Certified Professional of the Year NA NA NA
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Mike O'Brien Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Orinda, CA
Volunteer of the Year NA NA NA

Bios

Dr. Mark Anderson

Dr. Mark Anderson has provided 24 years of service to therapeutic riding programs. He started serving at Horses Help, a Premier Accredited Center in Phoenix, and his advocacy helped the small start-up grow to become a more than 20-horse operation. Dr. Anderson’s niece benefited from a therapeutic riding program in Montana, and he said that watching children with challenges make developmental breakthroughs while riding has kept him grounded in his everyday practice. It reminds him daily of why he got involved and why his job as an equine practitioner matters. Today, he still donates his time at Horses Help, but he also volunteers his services at Horses with Heart, in Chino Valley, Arizona.

Karen Richert, Horses with Heart Board President, says, “I recently had the privilege of seeing him at work as we had to let one of our longtime ponies leave the world. This was a difficult decision to make, as Midnight had been a part of our center for more than 18 years. Letting a beloved animal go is never easy, but when you have a veterinarian you trust, one who knows it is best for the horse and who cries with you, it is so much easier.” Pam Berry, executive director at Horses with Heart, agrees. She says, “Midnight had been the first ride for our small riders, generating many smiles and happy memories. Dr. Mark was there not only to provide the necessary veterinary services but also to be a friend and comforter to those of us who had worked with and come to love Midnight for so many years.

“He is part of the heart and soul of the Horses with Heart family. We can’t do enough to thank him, so the PATH Intl. Veterinarian of the Year award is important in telling the world about this very special man and his life’s work.”

Maryrose Bornhorst

"Awesomely fierce" is how Rhonda VanLowe, Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program's Board Chair, described Maryrose Bornhorst. We work in an industry that calls for much dedication and perseverance. Our participants need someone who believes in them. Maryrose never gives up, not on a horse and not on her participants. She has a special connection with each horse, which allows her to know what each one can offer to each particular student, and then she helps make that connection between horse and rider.

Maryrose is firm, fair, tenaciously and appropriately demanding--all qualities a professional needs in order to bring out the best in her students. Even when she challenges her students to make improvements, she also enthusiastically rewards the smallest efforts. As one parent said, "She is unfailingly patient and enthusiastic with students at all levels. Our son's amazing progress is due not only to her teaching skills, but her endless encouragement."

Another parent says, "Our child's sense of independence and overall success has blossomed because Maryrose creates an environment of attainable challenges, love of horses, her focus on special needs and her respect for all."

Her skills as a certified professional extend to her co-workers as well. As one co-worker, who is working toward advanced certification, said, "She is in the ring with me twice a week before work. She has been able to find just the right images to teach me things I have struggled with my whole riding career."

Encouraging, demanding, persistent, knowledgable. These words all describe our "awesomely fierce" PATH Intl. Certified Professional of the Year.

Chris Coyle

“I’ll do it” are the most common words uttered by Chris Coyle whenever he’s at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, a Premier Accredited Center in Old Lyme, Connecticut. He has spent hundreds of hours developing the sensory trail, which includes three stone bridges and 12 activity stations. It also has one very unique feature: a real railroad crossing. Riders can listen for the sound of the train and when all is clear, ride up to it, pull a lever, ride across and then close. I must say, that’s pretty phenomenal! This single feature has enhanced the equine experience for each and every rider while improving physical and cognitive skills.

A former firefighter, Chris has been an invaluable resource in planning emergency procedures and drills. Safety for everyone is always a priority for him, and he is willing to work with the center to ensure that the facility is always in top shape. One board member and volunteer says, “Chris is every volunteer manager’s dream! He is a compassionate sidewalker and is also serving his third term as a Board Trustee eloquently representing our program’s objectives.”

For the past 13 years, Chris has served as a sidewalker for High Hope’s most physically challenged participants. His kindness and skills while serving the riders have made him an integral asset to High Hopes. One instructor says, “When his participants arrive at our facility, they search for him because they know they always will receive a warm welcome. Never has a discouraging comment been heard by our participants. His upbeat attitude keeps everyone feeling positive.”

The parents of Caroline agree. “Caroline’s challenges can sometimes make her difficult to work with. However, Chris shows enormous compassion, unending patience and caring under even the most difficult circumstances. We know if Caroline could speak, she would say that Chris is one of her favorite friends.”

Chris always approaches his tasks with humor and humility. He can’t help but bring with him a positive attitude and a great sense of fun, and we are honored to name him the PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year.

Talia Finer

It’s hard to believe that Talia, a very social and very outgoing young woman, has communication difficulties. A diagnosis of selective mutism meant that she did not communicate outside the comfort zone of her family. Even talking to her horse during lessons at Freedom Ride was difficult. She began practicing communicating by nickering to her horse and eventually whispering single words. Then one day, Talia unexpectedly began conversing with everyone at the barn and now talks to everyone, remembers stories and enjoys conversations, which she attributes to feeling safe talking to the horses.

Her mom attributes this sudden ability to communicate as the relationship Talia developed with the horses, which provided her an outlet to safely test communication skills. No doubt a combination of safety and the mutual trust that developed between the horses and this young rider have positively impacted her daily life. Since then, through her bravery, strength and perseverance, Talia has begun testing the waters by speaking in public!

Talia’s skills as a horsewoman have also progressed over her 10 years of riding at Freedom Ride. She has grown from needing three volunteers to now using no volunteers. She walks and trots independently with balance and control, has learned multiple patterns, and is verbally able to explain each of them.

EAAT has truly opened up Talia’s life, providing her a safe-haven for learning verbal communication skills and giving her the ability to voice her opinions and thoughts. She continually displays a great attitude toward volunteers and staff, and she promoted EAAT by selflessly requesting that gifts from her Bat Mitzvah totaling nearly $5,000 be donated to the program.

We are so proud to name Talia the PATH Intl. Independent Adult Equestrian of the Year.

Rachel Hustis

Rachel Hustis does not let Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia slow her down. This rare progressive neurologic condition could limit someone of lesser drive and determination. But Rachel’s incredible willpower—and her love of horses—spur her to defy any physical limitation.

Julie Pedrolie, a volunteer at EQUEST, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Wylie, TX, remembers the day Rachel came into the barn after receiving her diagnosis (from “very handsome doctors” Rachel said). Julie said, “I was crushed—and she was ready to drive!” She then entered the cart and had one of the best driving sessions of the semester. As another staff member at EQUEST said, “It is the horses who keep her spirit alive and striving.”

Volunteer Leslie Griffin tells of a time Rachel was facing the challenge of a major trail ride event. Rachel was struggling to sit in the English saddle. Unable to balance herself, she was collapsing forward onto the horse’s neck. But she had incredible determination to fight through her difficulties. With the help of instructor Naomi Heller, and a new Western saddle, Rachel persevered and remained completely positive. Just two weeks later, Rachel rode the entire trail. Leslie said, “For me personally, that was the day I really understood the true nature of therapeutic riding—that a horse could facilitate the impossible.”

Through her accomplishments and setbacks, Rachel has unknowingly inspired volunteers to become certified instructors, inspired instructors to become more creative and innovative, and has given purpose to every volunteer who has supported her in her quest of mastering her horsemanship skills in each discipline she has pursued. By combining her love of horses and skill in riding with her mastery of occasional setbacks, she has become a true ambassador for EQUEST and for EAAT.

We are proud to name Rachel the 2013 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian of the Year.

Boo Martin

When someone asks for the definition of therapeutic driving, Isabella “Boo” Martin’s face could accompany the definition. Passion, knowledge, skill and exuberance are words that embody Boo’s spirit. A lifelong equine enthusiast with a dedicated focus on helping others learn to appreciate the infinite joys of riding and driving, Boo willingly shares her vast experience with others. She has supported PATH Intl. throughout the years, committed to helping others conduct safe activities.

Providing opportunities for others through hosting frequent driving clinics and PATH Intl. Driving Certifications has helped to expand the number of trained, credentialed driving professionals in this specialty field.

Boo is also a PATH Intl. Driving Evaluator. Horse Power at Touchstone Farm, a Premier Accredited Center in Temple, New Hampshire, has become a testing center for driving evaluations for the Carriage Association of America, lending additional credibility and crossover between the driving community as a whole and PATH Intl. therapeutic driving.

Boo is a leader and continues to grow personally and professionally by providing numerous opportunities for continued growth for herself and for others including starting a driving club at Horse Power, which has been very successful. She hosts numerous driving events and clinics at her center and always stresses that “drivers of all levels are invited.” This warm welcome alone tells of her enthusiasm for wanting to share her love of driving with others.

A strong proponent of each individual, her personal skills have helped others grow and blossom in the field of therapeutic driving, and each of her students feels her love for driving and her sense of boundless possibilities for them.

It is a great honor to name Boo Martin the PATH Intl. Sis Gould Driving Recognition recipient.

Gail Pace

Dr. Joyce Brothers once stated, “If your energy is as boundless as your ambition, total commitment may be a way of life you should seriously consider.”

Gail Pace has the rare combination of incredible energy, boundless ambition and unmatched determination, and the evidence is clear that Gail has been totally committed to PATH Intl. She has the insight and knowledge to know that partnering horses with humans can produce amazing results.

Setting an excellent example, Gail achieved her Cheff Center certification in 1989, Special Olympic coaches’ certification in 1990, her PATH Intl. Master Instructor certification in 1997 and her Therapeutic Driving Instructor certification in 2003. In 2010, Gail finished her service on the Riding Instructor Certification Committee, where she was vital in developing the PATH Intl. Mentoring program. It was a very appealing project to Gail because she is a huge supporter of professional development.

Gail was one of the first PATH Intl. Accreditation Site Visitors and continues to do site visits 18 years later. She fully believes the participants we serve deserve the most knowledgeable professionals working at the best facilities possible. Gail continues to study, observe and analyze the art and science of riding and driving so that she may provide inspiring lessons to her own students.

Gail is a Lead Evaluator for the On-Site Workshops and Certifications in both Riding and Driving, and a faculty member of a PATH Intl. Approved Instructor Training Course. She has mentored numerous instructor candidates and is always patient, insightful and wise. Her words of wisdom have traveled around the world with the international instructors she has mentored, including instructors from Columbia, Croatia, Belgium, France, Spain, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Ireland.

And speaking of international influence, Gail has been the primary instructor for three riders who have gone on to win in international competition. She coached riders in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Paralympic Games. Out of 10 riders at the 2004 Paralympics Selection Trials, three were Gail’s protégés. That speaks volumes.

Another project close to her heart is PATH International Equine Services for Heroes. Her husband, Jonathan, was in the Army, serving in Vietnam when they were married, so she knows first-hand the support our servicemen and women need. Gail has founded two PATH International Equine Services for Heroes programs in Texas, one at Hannah’s Horseshoes of Hope and the other at Equest.

Deb Lewin, a participant at Equest, attests to Gail’s amazing abilities. She says, “After I was broadsided by a vehicle in 1996, I have a brain injury and left side paralysis with impaired vision and hearing. After 18 months of regular therapy, they told me I had reached maximum medical improvement and would never do anything by myself again. Then I found Equest, and thanks to Gail Pace and the wonderful horses, I can totally prove them wrong! Her untiring commitment to lead me down the path to be the very best I can be is endless. When I started riding at Equest, I needed two sidewalkers and a leader. Now, I only need assistance in mounting and dismounting. I have learned both dressage and western from Gail, as well as cart driving. I have been very successful at many national level equestrian events, and none of that would have been possible without Gail by my side.”

Jen Donahue, a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced Instructor and driving level two instructor, says of her mentor, “Her legacy will continue to inspire. Whether she is performing lip sync trios at a party, guiding one of her hearing impaired students through a trail course for the first time, or creating a sassy routine for a drill, it is done with a zest for life which I aspire to.”

Quoting Walter Cronkite, “I can’t imagine a person becoming a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got.” Gail has given PATH Intl. everything she’s got for nearly 30 years and she is most deserving of the 2013 James Brady Professional Achievement Award.

Derrick Perkins

Raw determination is characteristic of many military service personnel, but never has it been so prominent and so contagious as in Derrick Perkins. Derrick sustained a spinal cord injury while serving as a Sergeant in the United States Air Force, and therapeutic horsemanship has provided motivation and passion to go beyond what had been a limited lifestyle.

When Derrick first started to ride at SIRE, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Hockley, Texas, he expected a relaxing, recreational session on horseback. To his surprise, he had to work—and work hard!—to accomplish riding skills. He rose to the challenge, took the bit between his teeth (to quote Joelle Devlin, Sire’s site director at Fort Bend) and progressed beyond anyone’s expectations, particularly his own.

His first experience at showing, which was at the Top Hands Horse Show at Reliant Arena in Houston, was a turning point for him. A small percentage of participants at EAAT centers have the opportunity, desire, determination and drive to pursue international competition, but once Derrick had a taste of showing, it was clear that is exactly where he was setting his sights.

Anthony Busacca, the director at SIRE’s Hockley site, said, “The goals Derrick has set for himself are challenging and ambitious, including riding with increasing independence and pursuing national and international competition. His contagious determination and enthusiasm will take him far, and his efforts will continue to inspire and encourage everyone he encounters.”

Derrick’s sense of humor and drive to succeed have inspired many fellow riders and volunteers. In the process, he is bringing more veterans into EAAT. He has given presentations on the benefits of EAAT to both local and national groups, to those in the military and those in the medical profession.

Derrick well deserves to be the 2013 PATH International Equine Services for Heroes Equestrian of the Year.

Miguel Quintanilla

The Child Equestrian Award this year was awarded posthumously. Ten months after Miguel Quintanilla started bringing abundant joy to his sessions and making staggering progress at BraveHearts, seven-year-old Miguel lost his life in a tragic house fire. This award helped celebrate the life of this special little boy, horse lover, son, and Green Bay Packers fan. His mother, Eva Graf, and his father, Osvaldo Quintanilla, both combat veterans, accepted the award on his behalf.

Some participants inspire us with their dedication to overcome obstacles. Some participants motivate us to become better people ourselves. And some participants touch us because of their brave journey and much too short time on this planet. Miguel Quintanilla, our child equestrian of the year, was one such miracle.

Miguel’s journey at BraveHearts at the Bergmann Centre, a Premier Accredited Center in Poplar Grove, Illinois, began when he was misdiagnosed with autism. As he progressed in the sessions and his connection with the horses grew, that diagnosis was eventually changed to sensory processing disorder. Every week, he came into the arena, trying his best with fierce concentration and working SO hard. He was fascinated with the horses. And just as fascinating is the fact that he eventually started overcoming his communication difficulties just to talk about them. At a family camp, Miguel and his mom participated in a trail ride together. Tears filled his mother’s eyes when Miguel began to speak without hesitation and with such enthusiasm about his horse. She was so proud of the huge strides he made as he would point out to her the horse blowing air from his nose or licking his lips.

Everyone who interacted with this little guy came and left with nothing but smiles and more than a few happy tears, after seeing how proud and confident he had become.

During his short time at the center, he felt what it meant to be accepted unconditionally, even if he was not the most effective communicator at first. Thanks to the dedication of his engaged and supportive family, who traveled a great distance to make sure he could attend his lessons, he learned how to communicate with family, strangers and newly acquired friends with two legs and with four.

PATH Intl. Certified Master Instructor and Bravehearts President and COO Meggan Hill-McQueeney said, “We hoped to make a difference to help him, but it was this young boy who made the difference. He was helping us. His passing makes us now know we were graced by an angel in our arena.”

Miguel exemplified the spirit of therapeutic horsemanship and it is in memory that we honor Miguel with the much-deserved PATH Intl. 2013 Child Equestrian of the Year Award.

Dr. Carlene Taylor

While PATH Intl. has long served the mental health needs of participants, Public awareness of the fields of equine-facilitated psychotherapy and equine-facilitated learning has recently really started to grow. Dr. Carlene Taylor is dedicated to bringing those fields more into the mainstream. Through her leadership, passion, community outreach and advocacy efforts, LightHorse Healthcare in St. Marys, Georgia, has grown from being seen as “just a horse program” to THE premiere behavioral healthcare center in the community. Through this effort, Carlene has introduced the local police, education department, social services and the regional hospital, as well as countless individuals, to the concept that horses can be healing for the body, mind and spirit. Her efforts have fundamentally placed the human-equine bond at the forefront of behavioral healthcare.

One person says, “Carlene was a vital person who was needed in the healing of my granddaughter, who is now a volunteer. My family does not know what we would have done without her as our therapist and without her introducing us to equine-assisted therapy. God had placed her in our path, and what a wonderful path we have been on ever since. She is dedicated to her clients, their families and the animals in her care.”

A participant says, “Carlene demonstrates outstanding leadership skills, compassion, hard work, support and guidance. She was helpful to my dad and me, and strengthened our relationship. I would not be the same without her.”

Whether she is leading in the community or at the center, Carlene leads by example and gives everything to make her center the best it can be. As another participant says, “She has not only made me a better employee, but a better person. She is exceptional and has changed countless lives, including my own.”

We are proud to name Dr. Carlene Taylor the PATH Intl. Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy/Equine-Facilitated Learning Professional of the Year.

Lauren Wisegarver

Lauren is so focused on her horse that she thanked him first upon winning her award. Susie Bjorklund, executive director of PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center Freedom Farm, and Lauren’s instructor, says, “Lauren has reached many of her own goals and continues to make new goals for herself. During her lessons when such achievements are made, she smiles proudly and will first thank her horse, then look at her volunteer and say thank you for helping me do that, then immediately encourage and praise other riders for their accomplishments.”

She said that one of her wishes of being able to walk is so she can be a sidewalker to help the other participants. She wants everyone to feel the freedom she feels when on a horse.

Last year, Lauren spoke at Freedom Farm’s annual fundraiser, where she received a standing ovation. After the dinner, one of the attendees approached Susie with tears running down his face. He pulled out a scholarship thank you letter Lauren had written him many months prior. He said, “I was taken aback by this letter of thanks she wrote me. I will keep her letter forever. She inspires me.”

Ryan Gilbertson, a supporter of Freedom Farm, writes, “Lauren’s horsemanship and commitment to the animals is exemplary and her dedication to riding improvement has been inspiring to all those around her. She always has a smile on her face and a positive attitude that is contagious. She is a shining example to all of the power of perseverance, dedication and hard work.”

During a recent lesson, Lauren accomplished the goal of trotting without holding on. She is now volunteering at Freedom Farm and is writing a book about therapeutic riding and how it helps her.

Lauren inspires all of us, and so we are proud to name her the PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian of the Year.

Mr. Wise Guy

At first glance, one would only remember Mr. Wise Guy, or WG, as “the horse that sticks his tongue out.” But once you get to know him, his gentleness and kind heart, those are the things you will never forget.

Mr. Wise Guy overcame an early training injury that left him partially paralyzed in the jaw and still he went on to become an English Pleasure national champion. The participants at Wings and Hooves Therapeutic Riding in East Kingston, New Hampshire, are inspired by that as they work to overcome their own challenges.

Participants come in frustrated or upset, and WG will meet them at the crossties, tongue out and all, and the children become someone else. With the little ones, it is almost like he walks on tiptoes to not throw them off balance. He even nudges people to make them laugh, as if he knows they are sad. After being a show horse, WG knows how to take care of people in the ring.
One example is Trevor, a participant who because of a rare chromosomal deletion has irregular muscle tone. Trevor has blossomed under the care of this truly amazing horse. While Trevor is on his back, WG seems to understand Trevor’s limitations and takes special care to walk lightly. Trevor’s mom says, “This horse has started the ball rolling on his walking and has given Trevor core strength beyond my wildest dreams! I cannot put into words how much this horse means to our family and how much this horse has helped Trevor. Thank you WG!”

One volunteer says, “With a positive attitude, intelligence and gentle nature, this horse is the perfect mount for anyone, and a dream to work with on the ground. WG has gone from best in the show ring to the best EAAT mount I know.” And that’s why Mr. Wise Guy is the 2013 PATH intl. Equine of the year!

 

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