member spotlightThe PATH Intl. Member Spotlight shines a light on some of our wonderful members making a difference in their communities, EAAT and PATH Intl. One outstanding member per quarter will tell his or her story and how he or she got involved in EAAT and with PATH Intl. Is there a member you would like to see “In the Spotlight”? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.perry, PATH Intl. Member Services Representative. 




Becca Cruchie 002

meet becca rakow 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background! How did you get into EAAT?

I am my parent’s eldest child of girl/boy/boy triplets. We were born prematurely at 29-1/2 weeks around 2 pounds each. I am the only one of us that had an adverse condition to being such a preemie. I have been diagnosed with mild spastic cerebral palsy that first showed as I was learning to crawl. I have been a client of EAAT since I was 6 years old. This therapy was presented to my parents & I as an alternative to traditional physical and sensory integration therapy. I started riding at Camp Equest at Equest’s Wylie, TX facility that summer and have been riding ever since. In January 2007, I competed in my very first Equestrians with Disabilities Events at Chisholm Challenge prior to the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. I won my first belt buckle and fell in love with competing. Since that time, I have competed in AQHA & NSBA competitions for disabled riders including Dixie Nationals and NSBA World Shows. Competing on the back of a horse has allowed me to feel as though I am able bodied. Every competition since then has allowed me to improve my equestrian skills, learn from judges on what they look for in a class, learn from watching able bodied riders how we really aren’t that much different from them other than maybe how we are scored, and learn how to give critiques to myself and others simply by watching my surroundings and listening to coaches. Every class both inside and outside the competition ring offers a new chance to learn, not just for the rider to learn something new, but also the volunteers, instructors, family, friends, and even the horses. It’s true horses are the “silent teachers”, even the slightest reaction can tell us how well or not that we are communicating with them. At the same time, the horse learns from the rider. If we are getting along well then the horse knows just how to react to give me the input I need, but if we are having an off day, then I may be doing something wrong and teaching them a bad habit. It’s all about trust. Without trust, there’s no partnership or becoming one with your horse, and without that, riding, in my opinion, ceases to exist. That unspeakable and unexplainable bond that the rider has with their horse is the key to freedom, it’s everything. The only way a person can understand just how this bond works or helps is to climb in the saddle and experience it for themselves.

How long have you been a part of PATH Intl? Can you talk a little bit about your experience with PATH Intl?

Merriwood 6NOV11 0100I started my membership with PATH Intl. as either a freshman or sophomore in college. I want to say I’ve been a member since late 2014 or early 2015. Being involved with PATH Intl. as a client and now as an instructor, has continued to open doors and opportunities for me to grow not only as an EWD competitor, but also as an individual craving endless knowledge in this field. Every show I’ve been to, speaker I’ve heard, and center I’ve been to has shown me just how far we can go in life if we set our minds to it. The opportunities are truly limitless. I love that. Horses and therapeutic riding are something I’m passionate about and I will take any opportunity I am able to be a part of, in order to learn more about this industry and what I can do to benefit myself and others around me.

Tell us about your program! What you are working on now, and any plans for the future?

Smut 3I am currently a client at Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding and Therapy Center. I’ve been a client with them since fall of 2014. I’m currently working on improving my equestrian skills through my riding lessons while finishing out my time as a college student at Texas Tech. In May of this year, I will graduate Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science with a focus in Equine Assisted Therapy. In addition to my degree, I have an Equine Science certificate from Texas Tech in Equine Assisted Therapy and have obtained my PATH Intl. Registered Instructor certificate. After graduation, I plan to move back to Rockwall and pursue an instructor position at a PATH center in the DFW area. In the future, I hope to work towards my PATH Intl. Advanced Instructor certification. I would also hope to still be an EAAT client at a center so that I can still benefit from therapeutic horseback riding for my mild spastic cerebral palsy and still learn from other instructors and improve myself. Additionally, after graduation, I would like to continue being a therapeutic riding client at Stable Strides Farm in Flower Mound. This past summer I’ve been able to learn a lot about myself as a rider and my new instructor Mandy Cleveland. I have learned how I can continuously improve myself as a rider with the endless opportunities available. I feel that continuing to ride and show as a client under Mandy will continue to open my eyes to the untapped potential that lies within me as a rider and I can learn different ways to use that potential in riding, teaching, and various other aspects of life outside of existing on the back of a horse.

Think back to an experience that you found to be profound or inspirational in EAAT. Tell us about it:

Chisholm Challenge Becca 008I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment when I knew I wanted to be an instructor, I just knew at the age of 12 that I wanted to be an instructor and help other people like me achieve their dreams, one ride at a time, and not to be defined by a diagnosis or what society tells us. I think it was at the age of 12 when I could comprehend what was going on when I was riding the horses and how it benefitted me mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Before horseback riding, I was weak, had poor balance, low self-esteem, and next to nothing for confidence. Thanks to everyone involved in this amazing industry, especially the silent teachers, the horses, I began to gain muscle control over my body, self-esteem, confidence, strength, and so many other things. With these horses, starting with Miss Velvet when I was 6, at Equest, I felt a sense of normalcy. I viewed myself as normal and as I got older that solidified and I found an industry I belonged to. To be honest, I can only describe this realization at age 12 and every moment since then as God showing me this is why I was made. This is my purpose in life. I feel truly blessed to be able to say that I have come full circle from client, to volunteer, to instructor.

Meet Tracy Owen

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background! How did you get into EAAT?

tracy owenI was employed as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for 26 years and was the owner/ manager of a counseling agency in Shell Beach, CA. Our office coordinated and provided vocational rehabilitation services for industrially injured individuals through the workers compensation system. Prior to that position, I was employed as a Vocational Instructor with Hope Work Activities Center in San Jose, CA and as a Social and Facility Director of a Retirement Community in San Jose. I have a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and a BS degree in Therapeutic Recreation.

During my teen years I was fortunate to have a horse and the passion has continued throughout my adult life! My father was in a serious accident when I was 12 and sustained a brain injury. I was very involved in his care and my equestrian passion was extremely beneficial as psychologically our home life was quite challenging. While in college I volunteered at a Therapeutic Riding Center in San Jose and was touched by the experience.

I have always had a fascination with the human equine connection and have shared my home with equine friends for the past 22 years. My full time employment concluded in 2010 and at that time both children had entered college and thus I searched for a local Therapeutic Riding Center to volunteer with. In 2011, I began volunteering with Partners in Equestrian Therapy in San Luis Obispo, CA. I worked as a leadwalker, sidewalker and assisted instructors. Additionally, I attended classes at Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center in Santa Barbara. Concurrently, my mother began to experience health difficulties which culminated in a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. We moved my mother to San Luis Obispo and commenced a journey which ultimately resulted in her residing at Sydney Creek, a memory care center. I loved visiting with Mom and other residents and thus participated in various activities that were offered at Sydney Creek.

In November of 2014, my mother had a brain hemorrhage and passed away peacefully with my husband and I by her side. The following day, the director of Sydney Creek asked me if I would consider creating a mobile equine therapy program for the residents of Sydney Creek. Details can be found on my website regarding the amazing sequence of events that occurred culminating in the adoption of Ozzie, the horse that is utilized for the mobile equine therapy program.

tracy and bob owenHow long have you been a part of PATH Intl.? Talk a little about your experience with PATH Intl.

I have admired PATH Intl. for a number of years particularly since I started volunteering with Partners in Equestrian Therapy in 2011 and concurrently I attended classes at Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center in Santa Barbara. I am honored to be a part of an organization that has documented safety and operational standards as well as credibility. After adopting a retired Border Patrol Horse from Redwings Sanctuary in CA, I attended an ESMHL Workshop through PATH Intl. and obtained my ESMHL certification in Feb. 2015.

Tell us about your program! What you are working on now, and any plans for the future?

tracy owen 1During the summer of 2015, Ozzie and I travelled to The Villages in San Luis Obispo, CA several times monthly to meet with groups of senior citizens who reside in assisted living centers in San Luis Obispo. Sydney Creek, a memory care center, is where my Mother resided and those residents with Alzheimers were brought by van to visit with Ozzie. Equine activities are tailored to meet participants’ physical as well as psychological capabilities. Lesson plans included the following: Grooming, horse anatomy, horse painting and horse leading with proper safety measures.

The Bellevue Santa Fe Charter School in SLO has provided us with a Facility Usage Agreement and thus we have broadened the program to include sessions on the school grounds with children from CASA (court appointed special advocates) our local foster care agency.
Safety is always our first concern and thankfully I was able to hire a wonderful assistant, Lydia Lawson who is an accomplished equestrian and an Instructor for both First aid, CPR and Lifeguarding. We have added my rescue desert tortoise and her registered Therapy dog Roxy to our program!

The mobile equine therapy is seasonal in nature due to inclement weather issues. Several of the CASA children had expressed an interest in riding and after speaking with the certification department of PATH I discovered that the requirements for my existing ESMHL Certification could be applied toward an Instructor Certification program if utilized in an appropriate timeframe. I received my Instructor in Training Letter in Nov. 2015 and was extremely fortunate to unexpectedly reconnect with Lisa Ankenbrandt, the director and owner of SLO Hoof Beats, a therapeutic riding center in Arroyo Grande, CA. She is an amazing and wonderful teacher, mentor and instructor. I am in the process of concluding my practice teaching hours with her. I will be attending an Instructor workshop in March and the certification testing at a later date. I am thankful to be involved in this journey with PATH!

tracy owen 2Think back to an experience that you found to be profound or inspirational in EAAT. Tell us about it.

We had traveled to the Villages in SLO and were meeting with a group of residents from Sydney Creek, the memory care center, and we were in the process of telling Ozzie’s story to the participants. One woman in particular was extremely interested in Ozzie and wanted to pet his head and neck and proceeded to speak at length with Lydia about her past and her experiences with horses. After our session concluded, the staff were absolutely astounded and mentioned that this particular resident and been primarily non-verbal and that they were amazed and shocked by her ability to converse and her ability to recall events from the past. We had a number of experiences very similar to this and it is quite moving and touching to witness. Please glance at our website to get additional information! Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the mobile equine therapy program!



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