Certification

Frequently Asked Questions

I am interested in becoming a certified instructor. How do I begin?
How do I sign up for the online courses?
What if I don’t have a computer? How can I complete the two online courses?
How long will the online courses take to complete?
I am not yet certified in Adult/Child CPR and First Aid. Do I have to wait to submit my application to PATH Intl.?
Does the certification process need to be completed in a particular order?
What if I have already completed an On-Site Workshop?
How can I get the 25 hours of practice group mounted teaching?
What is the cost for the entire certification process?
Where do I find an On-Site Workshop and Certification to attend?
Where do I find a PATH Intl. Mentor?

I am interested in becoming a certified instructor. How do I begin?
Given that there are three methods of completing certification, the method that you choose will determine how you should begin. Two of the methods are detailed in the PATH Intl. Registered Instructor Certification Booklet.

If you want to attend a PATH Intl. Approved Training Course, you will need to go to the PATH Intl. website for a list of dates and locations for Approved Training courses. Once you have found one that interests you, you will need to contact that center for details regarding their course.  Visit the Approved Training Course page for more information.

If you cannot attend an Approved Training course, then you will need to proceed with the second method of certification, which involves a multi-step process of educational components. This process is described in detail in the PATH Intl. Registered Instructor Certification Booklet.

Click here for more information on attending a PATH Intl. Higher Education Member college or university.

How do I sign up for the online courses?
First, you will want to submit your Instructor application to PATH Intl. with the $87 application fee and your PATH Intl. membership of $65. The $87 application fee covers the cost of the online courses. Once your application is processed, you will be registered for both courses. You will receive emails with course and password information from coursewebs and the PATH Intl. office. These will give you immediate access to the two courses. Please begin using the new personal member number and passwords once you have received them. Also, keep in mind that each course has a deadline; this is detailed in the PATH Intl. Registered Instructor Certification Booklet.

What if I don’t have a computer?How can I complete the two online courses?
For individuals who do not have access to the Internet, the Center Accreditation Training course (CAT) is offered at all regional and national PATH Intl. conferences. The courses will need to be completed online, PATH Intl. does not offer paper exams anymore; therefore you will need to find a computer locally to complete the courses. You can print the course/exam when you login to the courses so you may take the exams on paper and then go back and submit your answers when you are ready.

How long will the online courses take to complete?
The amount of time for completion of each online course is dependent on your knowledge and experience. Obviously, the more you know about PATH Intl.’s Standards and Accreditation process the quicker you will be able to proceed through the CAT course. The same is true of the Instructor Self-Study course. However, because this is a self-study, it is designed to be completed at your own pace. Therefore, you are encouraged to take as much time on each exercise as you wish within the deadline of the online course registration. The CAT course/exam must be completed within 60 days of being registered. The Instructor Self Study must be completed within 180 days of being registered. You are registered for each course when we process your Instructor Application.

If the time expires for either course or if you need to retake an exam to get a successful score, you will need to purchase the course and/or the retake exam again. The CAT course/exam is $10 and the Instructor Self-Study Course/Exam is $25. These courses and/or retake exams can be purchased in the online store or by calling the PATH Intl. office and paying over the phone with a credit card. Those participating in one of the six PATH Intl. Approved Training Courses do not need to pay for retakes or purchase the courses originally; registration is done through the ATC.

I am not yet certified in Adult/Child CPR and First Aid. Do I have to wait to submit my application to PATH Intl.?
No, feel free to send in your application without copies of your Adult and Child CPR and First Aid cards. In fact, you can submit your First Aid and Adult and Child CPR cards at anytime during Phase I of the booklet certification process. However, PATH Intl. will need to have copies of your cards before your Phase I is complete and your Instructor-In-Training letter can be issued.

Does the certification process need to be completed in a particular order?
Yes, the first thing to do for anyone interested in starting any educational or certification process with PATH Intl. would be to become a member of PATH Intl..

The second step depends on the method you choose to become certified. If you attend a PATH Intl. Approved Training Course you will need to contact the host site and ask them the process in which they complete things.

If you choose the booklet method, the process is outlined in the PATH Intl. Registered Instructor Certification Booklet.

The process was designed with the intention that each step would help to prepare the candidate for successful completion of the next consecutive step. The process is broken down into two phases.

What if I have already completed an On-Site Workshop?
When considering the workshop and certification in Phase II, it is important to keep in mind that there is an On-Site Workshop and an On-Site Certification. Although, they are usually associated with one another and completed on the same week or weekend, they are two separate steps. Therefore, if you have previously completed an On-Site Workshop, you will have satisfied that step of your certification process. However, the On-Site Workshops are only good for two years. If it has been more than two years since you completed the workshop when you attend an On-Site Certification, you will need to redo that step.

How can I get the 25 hours of practice group mounted teaching?
Candidates are encouraged to volunteer at a PATH Intl. center to learn how to teach riding to individuals with disabilities from experienced instructors. It is difficult to become a therapeutic riding instructor without some hands-on experience under the guidance from someone who knows how to do it correctly. Some PATH Intl. centers offer Instructor training courses which can give candidates opportunities to accumulate hours under expert guidance.

For candidates who are unable to learn directly at another PATH Intl. center – practice teaching may take place elsewhere. However, all candidates should have a PATH Intl. certified instructor as a mentor.

Be creative in your quest for accumulating hours. This is your opportunity to open up lines of communication between yourself and other instructors. You should use this time to gain knowledge and experience about what works and what doesn’t work in the field of instructing therapeutic riding. Remember most people do have to dedicate a large amount of time in accumulating these hours, many of which involve traveling to centers, this is meant to be a time of learning and growth, the hours should not be rushed.

What is the cost for the entire certification process?

PATH Intl. Individual membership $65

Certification Application fee    $87

On-Site Workshop and On-Site Certification  $400-$800

There are also four books recommended as reference materials. Your total cost for these books can vary greatly depending on whether or not you have, can borrow, or need to purchase any or all of these references. Also, as a PATH Intl. member, you have the option of downloading the Standards and Accreditation Manual off of the website for free.

Where do I find an On-Site Workshop and Certification to attend?
There is a list of all the Registered On-Site Workshop and Certifications listed on the PATH Intl. Calendar. You will want to look for events labeled Registered OSWC on the calendar. Please contact the host site directly to register. Please keep in mind all requirements for Phase I should be completed 30 days prior to attending an On-Site Workshop and Certification.

Where do I find a PATH Intl. Mentor?
Click here to find a list of PATH Intl. Mentors.

Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning Certification
PATH Intl.  has provided the following FAQs to help clarify questions people may have about the Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning Certification. Visit the ESMHL page to download a copy of the ESMHL certification booklet and complete details on the requirements of the ESMHL certification. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or call (800) 369-RIDE (7433) with any additional questions you may have regarding the Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning certification or the workshop.

Who should take the Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning workshop?
How do I get this certification?
What is the practical skills test?
How do I sign up for a workshop and practical skills test?
How do I locate a workshop and pratical skills test?
What does this certification certify me to do?
Will the Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning certification be required for all existing PATH Intl. programs that offer EFP and EAL sessions?
What about EAL?
I have already attended an ES workshop in the past. Do I need to retake it?
Why should I attend the ESMHL workshop?
How do I get my 60 hours of experience in mental health or learning?
How do I get my 20 hours of experience in equine management?
I am a certified vaulting instructor performing EFL. Do I need to gain this certification to continue my interactive vaulting lessons?

1. Who should take the Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning workshop?

Anyone interested in learning more about equine-assisted learning (EAL) or equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP). This workshop is aimed at teaching equine behavioral and management skills as they relate to EAL and EFP as well as collaboration skills with the mental health or learning professional. It will touch on how to develop curricula that support treatment plans, volunteer management, equine interaction, your role as an ESMHL (Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning) and much more! While the focus in this workshop is on the equine specialist, we encourage any mental health professional or learning professional to attend, as this workshop is very educational and will help you to work better with your equine specialist partner. If you are currently performing EAL or EFP, this workshop would benefit you and your program; it will give you new ideas, best practices scenarios, tips for volunteer management, who to accept into your program, and of course how to best focus on proper horse handling and the physical/emotional care of the equine during all EFP and EAL sessions. The workshop is a requirement of the certification, so if you wish to become certified as an ESMHL you need to attend this workshop as it will only benefit you!

2. How do I get this certification?

Step 1: Attend a workshop and skills test. The prerequisite to attending a workshop and skills test is to be a current PATH Intl. individual member; there are not any preparatory items to complete. If you plan to complete the skills test after the workshop, horsemanship skills are necessary. It is beneficial to have horsemanship skills and experience when attending the workshop but it is not required.

Step 2: Review the portfolio requirements on page 5 of the ESMHL certification booklet, and when you are ready, mail your completed portfolio to the PATH Intl. office with a $95 fee.

Step 3: The PATH Intl. office will review your portfolio and within 30-45 business days will sign you up to take the PATH Intl. Online Standards exam and ESMHL exam. Upon completion of the exams and confirmation from the PATH Intl. office, your certification will be complete.

What is the practical skills test?

The skills test is held on day four following the ESMHL workshop. The un-mounted skills test is meant to test your horse handling ability/ground skills as well as how you relate to horses. This test is required for certification and can be taken at any point; the only prerequisite is to be a PATH Intl. member. Please see all details in the ESMHL certification booklet including the skills test criteria. The skills test is good for one year from the time of completion.

How do I sign up for a workshop and practical skills test?

Contact the hosting center for registration fees, and deadlines, and to obtain an application.  Pay the center directly to attend the workshop and skills test.

How do I locate a workshop and practical skills test?

All events are advertised in the PATH Intl. eNews and on the PATH Intl. events calendar on the web site. The events are listed in green and are titled ESMHL workshop and skills test.

What does this certification certify me to do?

This certification is meant to certify an individual as the equine specialist (horse handler, horse expert) in any un-mounted mental health or learning session. With this certification you can meet PATH Intl. standards, start up a PATH Intl. EAL or EFP program and PATH Intl. center and offer un-mounted activities with your participants.

Will the Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning certification be required in the future for all existing PATH Intl. programs that offer EFP and EFL sessions?

Yes, for EFP programs only. The equine specialist will be required to be present during all un-mounted EFP sessions. If a PATH Intl. center conducts mounted EFP sessions, the ESMHL must be present and directly supervised by a PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor (unless the ESMHL is dually certified as a PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor). Please see the updated PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation manual release, specifically the “Medical/Mental Health Standards” in the “Service Standards” section and the “Guidelines for Providing EFP” in the “Guidelines” section.

What about EAL?

In the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation manual, members can find EAL guidelines and definitions in the “Guidelines” section. PATH Intl. has not yet developed EAL standards; therefore, PATH Intl. centers can continue to run an EAL program without having a PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Your EAL programs will need to continue to be supervised by a PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor to meet standards if you choose not to employ an ESMHL. It is highly recommended to have a PATH Intl. Certified ESMHL for all EAL sessions, but it is not yet required.

However, if a center wishes to start an un-mounted EAL program, it is recommended that a PATH Intl. Certified ESMHL be employed.  In the future when EAL standards are developed, the ESMHL certification may be a requirement for EAL programs.

For more information, visit  https://www.pathintl.org/60-resources/efpl/1029-equine-assisted-learning

I have already attended an ES workshop in the past, do I need to retake it?

No. Your workshop will count toward certification. If you would like to retake it, you may do so. The fee is up to the host site and is not set by the PATH Intl. office. You can request to audit the workshop for a discounted fee. Auditing is only an option if you have already taken the workshop once.  The workshop is good for two years from the date you took it.

Why should I attend the ESMHL workshop?

The PATH Intl. office highly recommends anyone who would like to offer EAL and EFP to attend this workshop. The feedback received after individuals attend this workshop is very positive. Many appreciate the information given in the workshop and find that it provides so much assistance in creating or improving their own EFP or EAL programs. Most participants come home wondering why there are so many individuals performing EAL and EFP without taking the workshop. This workshop will only create more understanding and professionalism within PATH Intl. and the equine-assisted activities and therapies industry.

How do I get my 60 hours of experience in mental health or learning?

You can locate PATH Intl. centers that offer EAL and EFP sessions using our Find a Center link on the web site. It would be wonderful to gain all 60 hours in an EAL or EFP session. For the 60 hours there are two options.  With option 1 all the hours can be performed in a PATH Intl. EAL or EFP program, under a PATH Intl. Certified  Instructor or at a PATH Intl. center. Option 2 includes 30 hours in a PATH Intl. program offering equine-assisted activities (therapeutic riding, driving, vaulting, etc.) and 30 hours in the mental health and learning field in your community, such as a group home or special needs learning school, etc.

The hours are active hours, just like continuing education hours. This means only the hours you are volunteering/participating in a session, school or group home count. The hours you may need to prepare, do lesson plans, prepare horses, read about students, etc., do not count toward this requirement.  Your hours can be performed at any time and do not expire.

How do I get my 20 hours of experience in equine management?

Topics could include classes on equine first aid, equine anatomy, equine conformation, equine gait  and lameness, equine nutrition, hoof care, herd dynamics, biosecurity or lungeing to name a few. These hours could come from PATH Intl. regional or international events, EPONA, EAGALA, AIA, natural horsemanship clinics, 4-H, Pony Club, colleges, for example, with no more than 10 hours at one event or training. Hours can be started at any time, do not expire and can be counted from anytime in your career.

12. I am a certified vaulting instructor performing EAL. Do I need to gain this certification to continue my interactive vaulting lessons?

No. At this time PATH Intl. does not require anyone to have this certification to participate in EAL, only if you participate in EFP. Please see the EAL guidelines in the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation  manual and offer any feedback you may have to the PATH Intl. office.

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Master Level Instructor Certification is the highest certification level an instructor can achieve through PATH Intl. This program is designed for those instructors with career involvement in therapeutic riding. A PATH Intl. Master Level Instructor has a strong background in horsemanship and teaching, as well as a thorough knowledge of disabilities and their relationship to therapeutic riding. He or she has the ability to step into any instruction situation in the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies and take charge effectively, with the support of the operating center board or the center management. He or she is also capable of training other therapeutic riding instructors.

PATH Intl. Master Level Instructors are looked upon as role models, and will embody the spirit of PATH Intl. while promoting the dignity of the entire therapeutic horsemanship team.

Characteristics of a PATH Intl. Master Level Instructor

  • Has thorough knowledge of PATH Intl. Master Level Instructor Certification criteria.
  • Maintains professional demeanor in all areas of the equine-assisted activities and therapies industry.
  •  Is able to communicate positively and effectively in a variety of situations and with a variety of people.
  • Demonstrates superior interpersonal skills.
  • Teaches effectively to a group or an individual, using creative and tailored approaches to maximize students’ understanding.
  •  Makes effective use of time and resources.
  •  Demonstrates ability to recognize problems and identify solutions.
  • Demonstrates responsibility.
  • Is aware of personal and professional limitations.
  • Demonstrates critical thinking, as well as intuitive and analytical reasoning.
  • Recognizes own biases and suspends judgmental thinking.
  • Strives to maintain a sense of humor.
  • Is open to constructive criticism and can effectively give constructive feedback.
  • Demonstrates ability to progress a rider to the realistic pinnacle of his/her ability.

Applicant Criteria

  • Must be a current PATH Intl. Instructor member and certified as a PATH Intl. Advanced Level Instructor.
  • Must be at least 25 years of age.
  • Must be a member of another equestrian organization outside of PATH Intl..
  • Must have a minimum of four years of involvement with a PATH Intl. Center.
  • Must have at least 400 hours of experience teaching equine-assisted activities.
  • Must document at least two years of service to PATH Intl.

For information and forms, visit the TRI certification page.

Riding Discipline Bias?
Not in PATH Intl.'s Riding Certification Test

Whoa or Ho: Trot or Jog,: Lope or Canter?  Hmmmmm.....

Most horses understand these voice commands as well as the rider's natural aids needed to perform them, no matter what they're called. Horses show no bias when it comes to doing their job.

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Riding Certification Subcommittee stresses that the PATH Intl. certification program and testing also shows no bias. The subcommittee has gathered feedback from certification candidates and recognizes some clarification of the certification process, especially the riding component, may be helpful.

A therapeutic horseback riding instructor needs to know and demonstrate bending, straightness of lines, control of the horse, along with correct posture and balance, body alignment, posting with the motion of the horse, canter leads, and the like. When teaching riders for whom balance is a primary goal, an understanding of these principles is critical. Additionally, these riding skills allow PATH Intl. instructors to evaluate a prospective therapy horse for a program and to appropriately match equines and participants. In order to teach riding and evaluate equines, PATH Intl.'s Riding Certification Subcommittee has defined the criteria that objectively demonstrate these important skills.  

Some riding disciplines may spend more time working on these basic principles than others, but the basics are appropriate for all disciplines. After years of riding, no matter the discipline, candidates can benefit from reviewing these basics. It's a good idea to look over the PATH Intl. riding certification criteria for the riding demonstration as you evaluate your riding skills, practice the pattern and review arena skills. Even confident and seasoned riders can benefit from studying the criteria and reaching back to those basic principles as they prepare for PATH Intl.'s certification test. The certification environment is often less relaxed than one's home environment, and arriving at the certification test knowledgeable about and fully prepared to meet all criteria ensures a greater level of confidence.

It is the evaluator's job to watch each candidate without bias. Whether an English or Western rider, beginner or advanced rider, the riding criteria is what is being tested, not the type of saddle, equipment or personal choice of discipline. The question PATH Intl.'s evaluators answer is:  Has the rider demonstrated knowledge of the skills necessary to benefit riders with disabilities as outlined in the PATH Intl. Registered Instructor criteria. If yes, the candidate will pass the riding portion of the PATH Intl. Registered Instructor certification test.

horse-child-kneelingThis is the second level of certification.  A Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Advanced Level Certified Instructor is knowledgeable in horsemanship and understands disabilities and their relationship to therapeutic riding. This instructor is able to conduct safe, challenging and therapeutically effective lessons to individuals with disabilities.

PATH Intl. Certified Instructors who wish to progress to the Advanced level must meet a specific set of criteria (see below), and can be certified at the Advanced level through practical evaluations and written examinations at a PATH Intl. Advanced On-Site Certification.  These on-site certifications can be found on the PATH Intl. Events Calendar; dates are determined by PATH Intl. Centers. The on-site certification can range from 1-3 days depending on the number of certification candidates.

There is no workshop offered at the Advanced level, although some PATH Intl. Centers offer prep courses (also listed on the PATH Intl. calendar). These prep courses are designed by PATH Intl. Centers and offer candidates an opportunity to prepare for the Advanced certification testing. Candidates are responsible for finding their own resources in order to prepare themselves for Advanced certification.

Instructors must evaluate whether or not they meet the criteria for the Advanced level prior to applying at this level. For information and forms, including criteria, visit the TRI certification page

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