General

Member of the Month: Audrey Adamson

Audrey Adamson’s name might be familiar to PATH Intl. members living in the southeast as she is the PATH Intl. Region 5 membership outreach committee representative. Region 5 encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, Africa and the Caribbean Islands.

Audrey first joined PATH Intl. in 2001 (then NARHA). She was doing her internships in both psychology and nonprofit management at a local nonprofit center. She fell in love with the kids and the horses, saying, “It was almost magical to see the change the horses helped the riders with. I had never wanted to be a therapist and sit in an office. This was perfect for me! My advisor in psychology knew me well and my desire to work with children. He suggested a local center for my psychology practicum. My local center was a non-profit so I was able to combine both internships. I learned so much about how a nonprofit works, but the most exciting part was watching the children I worked with bloom.”

Her favorite thing about being in the EAAT community is giving hope. “I love sharing about EAAT and bringing in new riders who thought they wouldn't find something fun they could do. I love seeing the hope in the riders’ eyes as they build self-confidence. The look of hope in the parents' eyes when they realize there is something tailored to their child and that they would be able to succeed.”

Unlike many of the instructors we’ve profiled, Audrey says, “Being a PATH Intl. Registered Instructor is my first career. I started in college. I am also certified in nonprofit management so I spend a lot of time managing programs and writing grants.”

Something we’d be surprised to learn about Audrey? “When I am not dealing with EAAT or grant writing, I am very nerdy. I love books, movies and TV shows. I like to go to Dragon Con every year and hang out with people who love pop culture. Most people don't see that coming when they meet me!”

She says, “I have several favorite horses. It is hard to choose between the 34 year old quarter horse mare who gave her life to EAAT and a grumpy little pony. Since my pony story is a little more personal, I'll share that one. Baba is a paint pony who is allergic to everything! Because of this, the center had to make so many changes to his environment and feed. Even managing his conditions, he was grumpy! But he was more like the internet sensation Grumpy Cat; he looks a lot grumpier than he acts. He is a good pony and works diligently in classes. I had a special relationship with Baba. I would go to see him just rub on him. He loved that I would scratch the right places. He was one of my favorite to ride, because I was a nervous rider and had chronic pain of my own. I understood him and he understood me. It always made my day when I came in the barn and I would be the one he was happy to see. Because of my own issues and his reponse to those, I knew what he did with his riders. He understood and worked through his issues to help them with theirs.”

We asked Audrey to tell us about a favorite participant. “This is such a horrible question! It's hard to pick a favorite participant. But I can tell you my favorite story. One of the first riders I instructed was an 11 year old boy with cerebral palsy. I taught him on and off for about 7 years. In that time, he started moving around with a walker and improving his gait. He invited me to his high school graduation. I went and sat with his family and my fellow instructor. He came on stage in his electric wheel chair, but as they called his name, an assistant provided support and he walked across the stage for his diploma. I was in tears. Afterwards I asked him why he didn't tell me. He told me that he wanted to surprise me because I was one of the reasons he could walk across that stage.”

A life lesson she had to learn the hard way? “I deal with a chronic illness. As I have talked with other PATH Intl. members, I have seen that many instructors have special needs as well. I have experienced discrimination personally and I would love to become an advocate for instructors.”

“The biggest advice I can offer (fellow PATH Intl. Members} is to roll with the punches. We are trained to create a lesson plan and provide objective results. This is a great base but life will happen. Don't think you are a bad instructor. Being flexible is being a good instructor. Stay calm and go with the flow. Help each rider be their best even it means diverting from the lesson plan.”

Her wildest dream for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT?  “I want a world that knows EAAT and respects it as both an intervention and recreation. I would love for the world to see and understand. PATH Intl. is working toward these goals but it will take time and there will be bumps, but it will be better. One day, EAAT will be a household phrase and instructors will be respected for their unique skills and talents. When I wear my PATH Intl. logo I feel like part of a team. I feel professional and like someone who can be respected.”  You are a professional Audrey and we thank and respect you!

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Elizabeth Karmann

Elizabeth Karrmann from Green Bay, Wisconsin, is the first PATH Intl. member of the month for September! Elizabeth from Exceptional Equestrians is by no means new to EAAT but a relatively new member of PATH Intl. (first joined In January 2019), she says, “only after realizing I should have joined years ago!”

Elizabeth says her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is, “I love the sense of community you find in an EAAT barn. Everyone is united by the same goals and love for horses.” Her first career was as the equine manager for a therapeutic riding program. "I started volunteering with the local therapeutic riding center as soon as I turned 14. I was a horse-crazy kid desperate for any chance possible to interact with horses. Volunteering with the program was a huge part of my life and my decision to get my degree in animal science.”

She tells us, “In addition to horses, I am also involved in the dog world. I have an Australian Shepherd, Darcy, who loves to participate in agility. My goal this year is to get back into competing with her.” We asked if she could tell us about a favorite horse. “One in particular stands out -- a beefy Belgian/Quarter Horse cross gelding named Achilles. I worked at a summer camp for a few years where he was a perpetual favorite. When that camp closed, I brought him into the therapeutic riding program where I was equine manager. He had a personality as big as his massive girth, and a heart to match. He tested our volunteers’ skills, determination, and patience, but they loved him. That program recently closed, but I was able to bring him into a new program where I took a job... I can’t stand not to keep this guy around!”

And a favorite participant? “We had one group of older riders who came every Monday night. They would help brush their horses before they rode. One gentleman in that group was my favorite- he adored his horse, a Percheron mare named Glory, and he loved to brush and pamper her. I think he would have happily brushed for the whole lesson!”

When we asked Elizabeth to share something she had to learn the hard way she relayed a story we have unfortunately heard fairly often. “I was recently involved with shutting down a long-time therapeutic riding program. It was heart-breaking for everyone involved. The catalyst for this was the sudden loss of the program’s founder and director two years before. She ran the program for 30 years, and poured her heart and soul into it. Unfortunately, her passion for the program was in a way its undoing, since it left us with a huge hole that we couldn’t fill. Transparency, record-keeping, and willingness to delegate duties make future transitions much smoother and give a program a much better chance to survive.”

What's a piece of advice she'd like to share with her fellow PATH Intl. Members? “Never stop learning. The EAAT field, as well as the equine field in general, is constantly changing and progressing, giving us new and better options all the time.”

For the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, Elizabeth wishes, “To have the organization and the field continue to grow, and for more people to learn about the amazing power horses have to help and heal.” We asked her to tell us how she feels when she wears her PATH Intl. logo and she said, “Proud! I love when people see and ask about the organization and the work we do, and I’m always happy to share my experiences.” Thank you, Elizabeth! We’re proud to know you and so glad you became a member!

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Rachel Royston

Rachel first joined PATH Intl. in 2008 when she had a new friend who was a NARHA instructor who insisted she volunteer with the Indiana School for the Blind. Her friend worked on her for a couple of months before her boss told her to take a long lunch so she could see what it was all about. Currently she’s with Turning Point Ranch Therapeutic Riding Center, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Stillwater, OK.

She says her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is serving people who are facing enormous challenges and helping them conquer - whether it’s sitting up straight, learning how to establish boundaries or developing a partnership with a horse that will serve them in every aspect of their life.

Rachel’s first career was as a radio news reporter in Wichita, KS. Then she learned about EAAT from, “Carol Briggs, my friend who was an instructor. She encouraged me to put feet on the ground and then made it possible for me to train and become certified.” We love Carol too! Hi Carol!

When asked to please tell us something about herself that most people don't know, she said, “I was a synchronized swimmer in college. A bad one, but was on the team, nonetheless. Bless my fellow Aquarinas' hearts!”

Rachel tells us, “My heart horse was Ted. When I went to check him out I did not know he was in a rescue situation. He was skin and bones, teeth cutting his mouth, hooves long and ragged. But you could see a gleam in his eye and that he was a good boy. He interacted with us and was fully engaged. In fact, we were told later that another family came to see him directly after our visit. Ted ran from them and would not let them touch him. My husband knew Ted was 'the one' even though we'd looked at several other horses. The person I got him from said he was 15, but after having his teeth taken care of, it was easy to tell he was at least 20-25. Ted and I developed an amazing relationship as I worked to get him back to health. We rode bareback most of the time, which was a fun challenge in the beginning. He had learned somewhere that he could get out of being ridden by rolling or making a sharp right. Lucky for us, he and I were equal amounts snarky and loved spending time together.

After having him for a couple of years, I asked if he could be tried for an EAAT horse at Agape. He made the team and for 2.5 years was an amazing partner for our riders. He loved the brain candy! He was patient with beginners and was such a safe challenge for our independent riders. If a volunteer did not use the correct technique or held his lead too close to his head, he was the first one to redirect them to pay attention! He was retired when we determined his arthritis and age were too advanced. He would have happily served until the day he died if he was given the choice.

Ted got to spend the last couple of years of his life fat and happy, roaming his 20 acres with his pasture mate, Dusty. Those two years were probably the sweetest because time spent together was precious and short. Ted died in his favorite spot in the meadow at the age of what we guess to be around 31. He taught me so much about what it means to be there for someone and that you can NEVER judge a book by its cover or a horse by his past neglect. He was a gem.”

A favorite participant? “T was one of the first kids I volunteered with. He came with the Indiana School for the Blind and LOVED riding! Most of the kids at ISB had other physical challenges as well as vision impairment. T had CP. After volunteering for 2 years I earned my certification and was able to teach the class from ISB.
Fast forward 6 years - I was teaching ISB riders, some of them who were riding when I first started. T was one of those riders. He was now a very tall, lanky high schooler. He had to mount and dismount his horse from the right with much assistance because of his physical challenges.

"Each week we had a new topic - this particular week was Courage. T was the epitome of Courage. The lesson plan included riding bareback to different barrels in the arena with a directive on it. It might be riding with your hands above your head, lying on your horse's back, riding backwards, trotting... T was all about it. When it was time to ride backwards, T was assisted in turning around on his horse to face backwards. Long story short, T wanted to ride backwards all the time! He never faltered when faced with a challenge. He never hesitated to ask for assistance if he couldn't get it done himself. He ALWAYS tried new things and taught me to be still and wait so that he could achieve his goals. I will never forget T and all that he taught me.”

We asked her to please share with us of a life lesson you had to learn the hard way. Rachel said, “Failing certification to be a registered instructor was one of the hardest lessons! I had no idea what I didn't know until it was time test for certification. Everything at my barn was smooth and I had no issues. When I failed certification and faced the hard reality that I was in no way ready to serve my riders with the quality they deserved, I felt the 40+ teaching hours during my IT internship had been a waste. I wanted to blame my mentor, but ultimately it was my responsibility. I slinked back to the barn, tail between my legs and licked my wounds. My program coordinator helped prop me back up and we began to figure out what was necessary to become not only an instructor, but a GOOD instructor. Ego painstakingly set aside, I started over with a renewed focus and passion, went back to test again and became a NARHA Registered Instructor. I needed this life lesson so that I can effectively help other instructors in training. I didn't think it was good to fail at the time, but I would not trade it for world now, because I am a much better instructor for it.”

What's a piece of advice she'd like to share with her fellow PATH Intl. Members? “Each day is new! This field is as challenging as it is rewarding and if you stick with it you find that there is no better way to 'spend' your life.”

If Rachel could have her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, it would be, “That there will not be a single school, group home, retirement residence or any other organization who serves the marginalized in our communities that is not served by EAAT.”

She said when wearing her PATH Intl. logo, she feels, “Proud.”

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Laura Lovelace

Our second September member of the month is Laura Lovelace from PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center, MACH1 (Move a Child Higher) in Pasadena, CA! Laura joined PATH Intl. about three years ago as she became interested in becoming a certified instructor. She first learned about EAAT from a recreational therapist following being released from the hospital after a car accident.

Coming from a career as an elementary school teacher, Laura gave one of the best answers to the question: What is your favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community? “Smiles,” she said!  “Smiles on riders, instructors, sidewalkers and parents!”

Laura says people who know her as a teacher are usually surprised to find out she had a speaking role in the films Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, and that she was a music consultant for Pulp Fiction. That’s very cool, Laura! She has a pretty great story about a favorite horse she has too. “My current therapist/horse is Dr. Dotz, a huge black and white draft horse who’s not scared of anything--very good for me! My favorite Dotz story involves him going through a training to desensitize your horse by the police department. When confronted by a burning trashcan Dotz sized up the situation and peed on the fire putting it out. My hero!”

She says one favorite participant is Sofia who is only about seven. “She loves to ride and sing. I was very impressed when she stayed focused and sang the entire National Anthem while riding!”

A life lesson she had to learn the hard way? “If you are willing to work really hard, not get discouraged, you can accomplish great and wonderful things!” A piece of advice you'd like to share with her fellow PATH Intl. Members? “Enjoy every beautiful day. Enjoy every ride, especially when a butterfly lands on your horse’s ear. Share your joy!”

She says If she could have her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, she would wish for ‘plenty of food, nice homes/stables for the horses and riders and lots of scientific evidence/data to back up what we already know.” When she wears her PATH Intl. logo she feels, “So proud!”

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Linda Wanamaker

Meet Linda Wanamaker, October’s second PATH Intl. Member of the Month! Linda is with Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center in Vineyards, Massachusetts! Linda first joined in 2013 to do what she loves--helping people. Her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is, “the connection to a community I’m proud to serve." Linda’s first career was as a riding instructor, so she has known about EAAT for 30 years and has spoken at Lesley University in Cambridge about alternative therapies of healing with equines.

The story of her favorite horse is so heartwarming! She tells us, “Noble has been a therapeutic horse for half his life. He’s now 30. When the center tried to retire him he broke out of his new home and walked 9 miles in the night back to his therapeutic center! Ahhhhh, Noble! An equally endearing story of a favorite participant also warms the heart, but of course it does. “Stella at 5 years old was too afraid to even get out of the car. Six months later she trotted independently and was 3rd in a class of 10!”

When we asked Linda to share with us a life lesson she had to learn the hard way, she said, “Trying to keep others happy by not totally immersing myself in my work with the job I love- therapeutic riding instructor. And some important advice from Linda was, “If you love what you do it’s a joy- share your love with everyone you meet!”

Her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, would be, “Huge donations for the therapeutic riding programs and huge recognition for the volunteers!”

She said when she wears her PATH Intl. logo she feels, “Immensely proud and grateful!” PATH Intl. is immensely proud and grateful to have you as a member, Linda. Thank you!

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

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