PATH Intl. Celebrates 50 Years!

Obviously, 50 years ago life on planet Earth looked quite different for its inhabitants. In 1969 the average cost of a new house in the U.S. was $15,550; average income per year $8,550; rent $135 per month; and a new car might cost a consumer $3,270. While the world economy has changed exponentially, so many familiar constants remain. On January 1, 1969, the Ohio State Buckeyes football team beat the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl to win the national championship. Fifty years later, as people celebrated the promise of a new year and took stock of their blessings, Ohio State played in the same game against the Washington Huskies (and won). Good books are still authored. (In 1969 Mario Puzzo’s novel The Godfather hit the shelves.) And entertainment continues to fuel our imaginations and keep us laughing at the brighter side of life. (“Monty Python’s Flying Circus” first aired on BBC One in 1969.) 

As we kick off 2019, terms like artificial intelligence and virtual reality are commonly used parts of our vernacular, and we see technology evolving faster than we can think. Thankfully, certain consistencies continue to keep us humans grounded to the planet, such as an appreciation for nature, love of animals and striving for a healthy lifestyle. These inspirations, plus hope and having loving, open-hearted humans around us, are the types of ideas that continue to fuel our spirits. Equines happen to check all those boxes. They’ve been serving humanity as a companion and as a colleague for those in the workforce for centuries. This amazing, seemingly deep-souled, unpredictable, beautiful creature is also at the heart of the staying power of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). They didn’t, however, do it alone.

When the founders of PATH Intl. (then NARHA) first gathered to discuss formalizing an organization, the distant future must have felt so, well, distant. Through both the lean and prosperous years, and everything inbetween, one industry invariable in addition to the horses remains, and that’s the PATH Intl. members—a smart, savvy, multi-talented, resourceful, dedicated, innovative community of some of the finest humans the planet has to offer. They continue to cultivate their skills, meet the changing needs of society and strive for optimal quality of life for their participants and equines alike. And it is these extraordinary members with hearts bigger than the expanse of time whom the association will honor and celebrate in its 50th year.

To commemorate its golden anniversary, PATH Intl., its members and stakeholders will join together in a year-long 50th anniversary celebration that begins now and will carry through to the 2019 PATH Intl. Conference to be held in the city of the association’s headquarters—Denver, Colorado—from November 8-10, at The Westin Westminster. PATH Intl. will be focusing its celebration around four cornerstones—evolution, individual members, center members and new initiatives. These themes will be highlighted throughout 2019 as the foundation for that which has made PATH Intl. what it is today, and sets the course for continuing its vision of being a global authority, resource and advocate for equine-assisted activities and therapies and the equines in the work that inspire and enrich the human spirit. Let’s celebrate!

Members of the Month

Sue Adams (March 19)
Chelsea Packard (March 5)

Unique 50th Anniversary Sponsorship Opportunities

Join the celebration! Individuals and organizations are invited to contribute to the fun year ahead by sponsoring an array of activities. Click here to explore some ideas ranging from the simple to the grand.


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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Are Nonprofits Required to Pay Overtime?

New Overtime Rule Needs Your Attention

You may have seen or read about the ruling by the Department of Labor regarding minimum salaries for exemptions from overtime going into effect on December 1, 2016. This ruling may or may not affect you, your center, or your employees; we thought it would be a good idea to give you some information and a link to learn more.

First, let’s define our terms:

Exempt – If you are paying an employee a set amount, no matter how many hours in a week they work, they have been classified as exempt by someone at some point in time (or their job has been). The link at the end of this article will lead you to the “tests” to help you make sure your exempt employees are truly eligible to be exempt or if they should be non-exempt, hourly wage earners.

Non-exempt – This refers to a wage-earning employee. They are paid X dollars per hour and, if they work more than 40 hours per week, they must be paid overtime. Please note that minimum wage varies from state to state; please be sure you are meeting the required minimum wage for your area.

There is no nonprofit exception to the new rule. This means nonprofits are subject to the same regulations as any other business.

The new rule is this:
As of December 1, 2016, the minimum salary for exempt employees goes up to $47,476 from $23,660, and there will be an automatic increase every three years. This means that if you have exempt, salaried employees, they must make at least $47,476 per year starting December 1.

There are a few possibilities out there to change this however, do not count on them happening in time to stop the December 1st deadline:

The House passed the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-profits Act, delaying the change until June 1, 2017. It has not yet gone to the Senate for a vote.

The Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (OREA) is in committee. It would incrementally phase in the new salary threshold over the next three years; $35,948 on December 1 and eliminate automatic updates to the salary threshold every three years.

The Congressional Review Act (depends on the outcome of the November elections).
Lawsuits filed on September 20, 2016 in 21 states stating that the new overtime rule is unconstitutional, is contrary to Congressional intent, and automatic increases violate the Administrative procedures Act.

The bottom line is that each business, each employer, must look at the criteria for possible exemption from FLSA regulations (both for minimum wage and exempt/non-exempt status). The burden of proof lies with the employer for determining and defending employee status. Make sure your job descriptions reflect “exempt” or “non-exempt” status for the position and include words used in exemption tests for your exempt employees.

Click here to learn more.

The PATH Intl. Advisory Council is made up of individuals who have experience or expertise that has been identified by the executive committee as needed for the successful operation of PATH Intl. and/or name recognition within the equine-assisted activities and therapies Industry or the general public.

Advisory Council

Andrea Beetz, Psychologist (MA), PhD
Jerry Black, DVM, Director, Equine Sciences Colorado State University
Shannon S. Carter, EdD, CAE
Lynn Coakley, President, EQUUS Foundation, Inc.
David L. Foley, Executive Director, American Association of Equine Practitioners
Holly Schmitt Fox, DVM
Hope Carolyn Hand, Para-equestrian
Craig Huffhines, Executive Vice President, American Quarter Horse Association
Allyn Mann, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Luitpold Animal Health
Larry Pence, CSM (Ret.), U.S. Army

Accrediting the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification Q & A

From feedback we’ve received based on current communications, we have put together this list of recent member questions and comments. When one person asks that usually means more are also wondering, so we are making this list available to all! Have questions of your own? Please use this feedback link and thank you! (New questions are added at the top.)

For FAQs on the PATH Intl. Credentialing Council, click here.

If the by-law change is approved, and the council is created, will the membership be able to vote on their proposed changes going forward, or will they have the ultimate say in the direction PATH goes? I realize that I may be in the minority, but the idea of voting for something that in the end may make it easier for individuals to become certified without demonstrating safety and quality in skills tests (riding and teaching) horrifies me.

Actually, with the establishment of the Credentialing Council, certification won’t look very different from the way it operates now.
PATH Intl. certifications have been constructed and maintained by volunteer committees. Currently and historically any changes to testing processes, procedures, content, criteria or how evaluators score the criteria are handled strictly by the pertinent certification sub-committee with no formal input from the larger membership. The chairs and sub-committee members are selected by PATH Intl. staff based on their qualifications to represent the views of the membership. The advantage of the Credentialing Council model is that the whole of membership will have the opportunity to vote for the members of the Credentialing Council that will also include a public member. This allows the council to best represent PATH Intl. membership and general public interests.

The Credentialing Councils scope of authority will be strictly within the realm of credentialing, meaning their primary duty will be to ensure that PATH Intl. certification tests are created and administered following the standards published by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. They will have no influence on PATH Intl. strategic direction which is always carried out in partnership with the Board of Trustees, the CEO and membership. We are confident that the formation of the Credentialing Council and the application of NCCA standards to our certification development will not diminish the need to demonstrate safety and the skills needed to be a qualified therapeutic riding instructor. It is not our intention to make the test easier nor harder, but to create a certification that is recognized both within and outside the industry as the best.

Will this impact center accreditation or just instructor certification? My question is driven by the fact that I am wondering if membership will still be able to vote to approve or disapprove Standards for Accreditation.

It is the expectation of PATH Intl. that eventually the credentialing council will determine policies and procedures around accreditation. So it has yet to be determined how the council will define the standards approval process. However, that will be well into the future. Based on the strategic plan built from member input, the association is focused on the registered level instructor certification. Since the initial focus of the Credentialing Council will be on certification we expect the area of standards and accreditation to be addressed at a later date. In the meantime current PATH Intl. policies regarding standards and accreditation will remain in place.

How will you guarantee that the people on the council will be unbiased?

The Credentialing Council will have strict polices to safeguard the organization that no personal bias and/or agenda on their behalf will be executed. The Credentialing Council will be selected based on a specific criteria developed by the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees and in line with the NCCA standards for council composition. PATH Intl. has hired an outside credentialing specialist consultant to facilitate the selection and implementation process. Each council member will be responsible for signing a conflict of interest and confidentiality statement.

Will there be something in place to remove one of them for a specific certification if they know or are familiar with one of the people going for certification?

Yes, there is a conflict of interest disclosure that each evaluator will sign and have to uphold if they so happen to know of one of the individuals they would be evaluating. They would at that point have to recuse themselves from the evaluation.

How will this serve as a step in the direction of greater recognition by external organizations and potential partners such as medical professionals, higher education institutions and insurers. An accredited certification will be far more meaningful to families, caregivers and participants?

Any professional organization that takes the voluntary next step to accredit its certification, ensures that the individual who holds the certification has met and exceeded the minimal competency of their said trade by examination. In return, the examination is monitored closely by a contracted testing company’s psychometrician to ensure the examination is fair and reliable. When an individual earns the credential it adds additional value to the end user that all internal and external checks and balances were in place and that the individual has in fact earned their credential. That leads to as you stated a more meaningful certification to families, caregivers and participants.

If the credentialing with the NCCA is approved, will the currently certified TRIs be grandfathered into the credentialing process, or will they be required to re-take educational/training materials?

Thank you for your inquiry on the impact of PATH Intl. receiving the accreditation on currently certified instructors in good standing. Typically, when organizations undergo this process, currently certified individuals are grandfathered into the system. It is not our intention or expectation that current instructors would need to recertify. However, advance notice would be communicated regarding any changes to the RE-certification requirements and/or if re-testing was a possibility that would occur.

Until the Credentialing Council is formed and the policies and procedures to include a “grandfather” clause are evaluated under the recommendation of a contracted psychometrician, the association will not be able to state an official position. Please know that the integrity of the certification program and that of the individual is of the utmost consideration.

If you would like to volunteer for the Credentialing Council Development Workgroup, please click here for additional information and the application for your consideration.

Be cautious in your joy and exuberance of designing more criteria that you force people out due to money and education concerns.

We especially want you to know that as a result of this accreditation, PATH Intl. will eventually no longer be requiring its education to become certified. Rather methods of skills assessment and testing will be employed, so there will not be an increase of costs from PATH Intl. for education. Also, it is not the intent, nor foreseen that there will be an increase in the cost of membership nor certification. Neither is it the intent to make certification harder. These concerns are at the forefront of the planning process, and the association will do everything in its power to achieve these goals. It is our deepest intention to grow the industry while elevating the level of professionalism of our members for the good of their chosen career and ultimately for the benefit and protection of their clients as opposed to forcing out individuals.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE consider the original mission of what we do. Most centers don't do anything but walk, whoa, ma-a-a-ybe a little trot with a leader and 2 sidewalkers. Create levels of THI's so more people can enjoy the movement of the horse. Make an exclusive club at a tip top level if you want but what about the people that will NEVER ride at that level? Please think about these people when you finalize your certification process.

We want to assure you that your concern regarding the level of riding skill required to be a PATH Intl. Certified Registered Instructor is indeed something being evaluated very seriously as we move forward with this process. Did you happen to read the eNews sent last month about the results of the recently conducted job task analysis? In case you didn’t, you can read it here. The expectation of the JTA is that the data will inform decisions and accurately set the baseline expectation for what a registered instructor really does and will be expected to do.

Also, the new Certification Council and Development Workgroup will help future certificants not have to contend with the most challenging variables of the current certification process such as the quality/types of the equines provided during testing, the time of day one might be tested, biases toward one discipline or another, the lack of quality control in video resubmissions, etc. The Credentialing Council will ensure consistent, fair, transparent and valid Also, the new Certification Council and Development Workgroup will help future certificants not have to contend with the most challenging variables of the current certification process such as the quality/types of the equines provided during testing, the time of day one might be tested, biases toward one discipline or another, the lack of quality control in video resubmissions, etc. The Credentialing Council will ensure consistent, fair, transparent and valid testing practices for all candidates applying to PATH Intl. for certification.


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