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Carriage driving is a fast-growing sport and is becoming increasingly recognized for its therapeutic value. Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Centers can use driving as a means to offer students with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities the rewards of interacting with a horse or pony while driving from a carriage – either in the carriage seat or in their own wheelchair, using a carriage specially modified to accommodate wheelchairs. Using a horse and carriage gives participants an alternative to riding, opening up the world of horses to those who may be unable to ride due to weight, balance, physical limitations, fear of heights or other issues.
Therapeutic Driving offers a unique set of skills and benefits, by providing the student with a distinct range of movements and a vast set of motor-sensory experiences. Therapeutic Driving is about imparting knowledge of safety, horses, harnessing and driving skills to children and adults using teamwork. It takes 3-5 volunteers to make one driving turn out! In addition to therapeutic lessons, drivers with a disability who are interested in competing are welcome at traditional carriage driving competitions, such as pleasure driving and combined driving events, where they compete on an equal footing with able-bodied competitors. As with riding, there are precautions to driving.
To obtain a PATH Intl. Driving Certification, candidates must complete a driving workshop and pass the PATH Intl. On-Site Driving Certification. Workshops are offered in two different formats: demonstration only and hands-on. Information on each format can be found in the workshop booklet. Driving Certification includes practicum portions and examinations, which will determine whether or not an individual meets the requirements listed below for each level. At the conclusion of the certification, the candidate will be informed of the evaluator's recommendations for certification of Level l or Level ll. Candidates will be notified of their final results in writing by the PATH Intl. office.
Level l: PATH Intl. Driving Instructor Level l is an individual who has at least 200 driving hours in a turnout, is safety-oriented, is able to teach basic driving skills, has knowledge of disabilities, knows parts of the harness along with their purposes and proper fit to the equine, can long line, and has knowledge of vehicles and their maintenance.
Level ll: PATH Intl. Driving Instructor Level ll knows all the information a Level l Instructor is required to know, and also has at least 400 hours in a turnout in various settings with different horses, can teach challenging and beneficial lessons to individuals with disabilities, can identify and manage problems with students/equine/volunteers, and possesses the organizational and leadership skills to be the head instructor of a driving program.
Level III: PATH Intl. Driving Instructor Level III has a thorough knowledge of horse care and horse handling and has at least 1,000 hours of driving experience. He/she is a commanding, sensitive driver with considerable teaching experience who demonstrates a deep understanding of the relationship between specific disabilities and therapeutic driving. This level enables the driving evaluator/faculty to serve as a mentor to others in the discipline, demonstrating leadership in the therapeutic driving industry and conducting driving instructor workshops and certifications.
Download the workshop and certification booklets for more information.
Visit the PATH Intl. Events Calendar to search for a list of all driving workshops and certifications.
Driving now has a Community Connections. To join, click here.