About PATH Intl.

Baseline Definition Summit

PATH Intl. is leading an initiative with the goal of term definition consensus among the major stakeholders in the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). Thank you to the initial workgroup comprised of Joann Benjamin, Michele Kane, Lynn Thomas and Dr. Wendy Wood for helping to lead this important initiative. And thank you to the Bob Woodruff Foundation for making this project possible.
We are pleased to announce the participants in that summit, representing a wide range of perspectives from the EAAT field. The participants are (click the participant's name to be taken to their bio below):

Dr. Alyssa Adams – Operations Manager, National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events, Veterans Administration

Kathy Alm – CEO, PATH Intl. /former PATH Intl. Center Executive Director

Debbie Anderson – Equine Assisted Learning & Therapy/PATH Intl. Center Administrator

Emily Bader – Program Officer, Bob Woodruff Foundation

Joann Benjamin – Physical Therapist/Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist/American Hippotherapy Association

Dr. Octavia Brown – PATH Intl. Master Instructor/Professor of Equine Studies, Centenary University

Nina Ekholm Fry – Mental Health Professional/Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Counseling/University of Denver, Institute for Human-Animal Connection/HETI/CBEIP/ISES/American Hippotherapy Association

Margaret “Meg” Harrell – Chief program Officer, Bob Woodruff Foundation

Michele Kane – MA Clinical Mental Health/Veteran/PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor  

Miyako Kinoshita – EFMHA/Equine Assisted Learning/PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Martin C. Pearce – PR/Marketing/Communications/Parent of a participant

Lynn Klimas Petr – PATH Intl. Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor/PATH Intl. Center Founder & Administrator

Lissa Pohl – University of Kentucky, Community & Leadership Development/Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) Master Trainer

Laurie Schick – Physical Therapist/Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist/American Hippotherapy Association/3rd party billing

Lynn Thomas – LCSW/Mental Health Professional/Founder & CEO, Eagala 

Wendy Wood, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Professor of Equine Sciences and Occupational Therapy, Director of Research, Temple Grandin Equine Center, Colorado State University

Ken Minkoff and Chris Cline, Facilitators, Zia Partners, www.ziapartners.com


Dr. Alyssa Adams is the operations manager for the Office of National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Adams is a clinical psychologist, and she completed her internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC. She has specialized in behavioral medicine interventions, with a particular interest in the psychological and social factors that impact mental health and rehabilitation. Her doctoral training was tailored to dually specialize in health psychology and neuropsychology. She has a strong background in working with patients with chronic pain, spinal cord injuries, amputations, psychological trauma, neurological illnesses and injuries, as well as other disabilities. She is licensed in both the District of Columbia and Virginia. 

Kathy Alm began her service as chief executive officer of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) in August 2014. For the previous 16 years she served as executive director of Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Woodinville, WA. She grew the previously grass roots organization from a $280,000 annual operating budget to a professional $2.1 million organization. Kathy’s board service includes the PATH Intl. board from 2005 – 2013, including the office of board president, founder/board member of the Director of Disabilities Organization, board member of the Alliance of Eastside Agencies as well as founder/board member of Theatre Puget Sound. Throughout her tenure in equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT), Kathy has served as a PATH Intl. region representative, chaired the PATH Intl. administrators’ committee, and presented at numerous regional and annual conferences all over the country. She holds a BA degree from Pacific Lutheran University. Her dedication to the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies spans more than 19 years with a passion that was ignited the moment she walked through the door at her first therapeutic riding center. 

Debbie Anderson has been on the cutting edge of the equine-assisted learning and therapy industry for over 35 years. Debbie has specialized in creating EAL programs in partnership with schools, corporations and many mental health associations. Debbie is also responsible for co- founding Strides to Success, the first center in the United States to become accredited in PATH Intl. mental health standards. Debbie has authored and co-authored many EAL curricula and resources that are considered industry staples. In addition to being involved on a program level, Debbie has dedicated her energy to PATH Intl. for the last 25 years serving on many committees as well as serving on the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees. She also serves as a lead site-visitor. Debbie is a well-known conference presenter, motivator, mentor and facilitator within the EAAT industry. Debbie was PATH Intl. certified in 1996 as a therapeutic riding instructor and is also certified as an equine specialist in mental health and learning. Additional certifications include Certified Equine Interaction Professional in Education, Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) certified corporate trainer, Master HorseWork trainer and is also EAGALA trained. Today, Debbie serves as the founder/executive director at Strides to Success with a mission of spreading knowledge and assisting centers worldwide by promoting best practices within the EAAT industry. 

Emily Bader is a program officer at the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF). In this capacity, she is responsible for finding, funding, and shaping grants made to nonprofits addressing the needs of post-9/11 veterans, service members, military families, and caregivers. Emily manages BWF investments in mental healthcare programs and is the substantive leader within BWF on mental healthcare issues for post-9/11veterans. Prior to becoming a program officer, Emily held the roles of events coordinator and strategic initiatives officer. Emily started at BWF as an intern in January 2016 while pursuing her master’s degree in Near Eastern studies at New York University. During her time at New York University, Emily helped manage academic events ranging from intimate roundtable discussions to large-scale festivals. She concluded her master’s degree with the submission of her thesis on the impact of U.S. aid to Egypt between 1940 and 2011. Emily graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. John’s University with a BS degree in criminal justice, a concentration in forensic psychology, and minors in international studies and philosophy. She also studied Arabic at The Sijal Institute for Arabic Language and Culture in Amman, Jordan.

Joann Benjamin is a physical therapist, with a pediatric practice in the Los Angeles area. She has a particular interest in words and how we use them, whether writing curriculum for American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. (AHA), teaching courses, working with USEF and FEI 

in the para disciplines, or sharing the many benefits of using equine movement with patients. Her membership with NARHA (now PATH Intl.) began 35 years ago. She is a founding and lifetime member of AHA, having served in many roles, and was the AHA Therapist of the Year in 2017. She looks forward to participating in this project. 

Dr. Octavia J. Brown is a professor of equine studies at Centenary University in Hackettstown, NJ, where she directs Therapeutic Riding at Centenary, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center. She teaches a PATH Intl.-approved instructor certification course as well as various courses in the equine studies department. She holds a Master’s of Education degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Centenary University. She is a PATH Intl. Certified Master Instructor and ESMHL and also holds EAGALA level 2 certification. Dr. Brown was a founding board member of NARHA, serving four terms on the board of directors. 

She served several years on the board of Horses and Humans Research Foundation, which led to exposure to funding applications from other countries and people/organizations not affiliated with PATH Intl. She is past president of the Federation Riding for the Disabled International (now HETI). She therefore brings significant international experience of terminology to the table as well as an historical perspective on the development of the entire field of EAAT in the United States. 

Nina Ekholm Fry is director of equine programs at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection and adjunct professor at University of Denver where her work focuses on horses in clinical services and on equine behavior and welfare. For the past 12 years, she has specialized in inclusion of horses in psychotherapy in the United States and Europe and is a certified clinical trauma professional. She currently serves on the boards of the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. (AHA) and the Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals (CBEIP). In addition to client work and teaching, Nina conducts facilitation workshops and is chief editor of the HETI Journal, published by the International Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy. Nina is a practitioner member of the International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) and teaches equine behavior at Yavapai College. She is active in the equine welfare community in the United States and consults on equine behavior and facility design nationally. Nina brings national and international experience related to education, organization and regulation of professionals who include horses in their services. 

Dr. Margaret “Meg” Harrell is the chief program officer at the Bob Woodruff Foundation. She formerly served the Obama Administration as the executive director of force resiliency, within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she was responsible for the offices, policies, oversight and integrating activities pertaining to sexual assault prevention and response; suicide prevention; diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity; personnel safety; and for Department of Defense collaboration with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Dr. Harrell spent 25 years at the RAND Corporation, where she researched military manpower and personnel, military families’ quality of life, and veterans’ issues. Her research portfolio includes approximately 70 publications. Concurrent with her time at RAND, Dr. Harrell served as a presidential appointee to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, 2013-2014. From July 2011 to August 2012, Dr. Harrell served as a Senior Fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security, where her research focused on military veteran suicide prevention and response, veteran wellness, and veteran employment. She is a prior voting member of the Army Science Board, and has also briefed international audiences, testified before Congress, spoken extensively at conferences and guest lectured at the United States Military Academy. She holds a BA degree with distinction from the University of Virginia, an MS degree in systems analysis and management from the George Washington University, and a PhD degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Virginia, where her dissertation focused on the role expectations for Army spouses.

Michele Kane, Major, USMC (retired) retired from active duty Marine Corps in 2011 and moved from North Carolina to Fort Collins, CO, in order to attend Colorado State University’s equine sciences program. During that time, she also completed her master’s degree in professional mental health counseling (LPC). Michele learned about therapeutic riding while at CSU and decided to pursue PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor certification. She was certified in December 2013 and hired by Hearts & Horses, Inc., in January 2014, mainly to work with veterans part time. Michele worked for the VA in Fort Collins until she was hired by Hearts & Horses as a full-time instructor and veterans program coordinator in January 2015. In January 2016, she was promoted to program director. She earned her PATH Intl. Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL) certification in 2018. Michele spent over 20 years on active duty, deployed multiple times and brings many years of military experience to the table. 

Miyako Kinoshita is the current farm education program manager at the Green Chimneys Farm and Wildlife Center. She serves as the key facilitator for over 200 children with psychosocial disabilities currently in residence and day school, and facilitates and co-supervises a wide range of animal-assisted programs. 

She has a master’s degree in educational studies, and specializes in animal-assisted activity and animal-assisted education. She looks back on over 20 years of working in direct service with children and animals as a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Miyako is the former president of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) and a former board member of PATH Intl., serving as chair of the board governance committee and as board secretary. Miyako was instrumental in reintegrating equine-assisted mental health programs back into PATH Intl., to cement the commitment to equines and equine welfare in the industry of therapeutic horsemanship. She is an author of several chapters in textbooks, including Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy by Aubrey Fine. 

Currently, Miyako is playing a key role in the clinical study on nature-based program and its effect on positive youth development, conducted by the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. Miyako coordinates and supervises some of the data collection for the multi-year scientific study to assist the investigators from on site. 

Martin C. Pearce has almost 25 years of PR/communications/marketing experience on both the agency and client sides. He has had the privilege of working for a diverse set of clients across many industries, including consumer (Barilla, Mars, Starbucks, Dove), technology (HP, T- Mobile), automotive (Nissan, Vespa), fashion (Ted Baker, Eddie Bauer), and cause-related organizations (The Omidyar Group, Humanity United, Seeds of Compassion, Omidyar Network). What he likes most about what he does is finding the best/right way to communicate to audiences he is focused on. Communications is important yet frequently under-valued and misunderstood. That said, all messages are only as good as those created with an understanding of the audience. Words matter as well as how they are delivered. Lastly, and personally, Martin really understands the power of equine-assisted activities and therapies as the parent of a 13- year-old boy who has benefited from it for 10 years. 

Lynn Klimas Petr, MS, is the founder and executive director of Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR) in Lenoir City, TN. STAR is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in its 32nd year of operation. Lynn holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation from the University of Tennessee where STAR was her master’s thesis project. 

Lynn is active in PATH Intl., being a lead site visitor for accreditation. She is a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor, a mentor for instructors and executive directors, a certified equine specialist in mental health and learning, and faculty for both the mentor and standards courses as well as for the associate visitor training course. 

Lynn assisted in the rewrite of the instructor certification test many years back and has taken on roles of state chair, region representative, education oversight chair, health and education advisory member as well as helping to start (and finish) the faculty development task force, AVTC training revamp and mentor training review and development. Lynn was also part of the 

certification review and development task force, “Reinventing Certification” workgroup and the strategic initiatives review committee. 

She is committed to assisting PATH Intl. in a constant quest for improvement in the equine- assisted activities and therapies industry and was awarded the National Volunteer Leadership Award in 2010. 

Lissa Pohl holds a master’s degree in transformational leadership development and works in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Community & Leadership Development. She has facilitated equine-assisted learning workshops with students, nonprofits and executives across the United States, the United Kingdom, and in Qatar for the Qatar Foundation. In 2012, she conducted research on “The Effectiveness of Equine Guided Leadership Education to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Expert Nurses.” 

Lissa is a certified level two Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) Advanced Corporate Practitioner (2012), and became an E3A Master Trainer in 2015. Lissa served on the E3A Board of Directors from 2012–2018 with four years as vice president. As a member of the PATH Intl. EAL workgroup (2013-15), she assisted in defining terms and creating guidelines for the practice of EAL. She has been a volunteer at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Seattle, WA, and Central Kentucky Riding for Hope in Lexington, KY. 

Laurie Schick has been a physical therapist for over 24 years. In 2004, Laurie began developing her interest in the therapeutic value of horses and became a PATH Intl. certified instructor. In 2005, she brought hippotherapy to Forward Stride, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Beaverton, OR, eventually expanding services to five staff therapists. In 2016, Laurie moved to Bend, OR, and started a private practice at Healing Reins, another PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center. During that time she was instrumental in removing hippotherapy as an exclusion under the state Medicaid plan. Laurie partnered with Treehouse Therapies, a nonprofit pediatric therapy clinic in 2017. There she led the effort to add equine movement as a treatment tool and helped open a new 3,000 sq. ft. clinic at Healing Reins. Through Treehouse Laurie now bills insurance for all of her sessions, with 30% of her caseload being Medicaid patients. Laurie is also an active member of the AHA Reimbursement Committee. 

Lynn Thomas, LCSW, founded and serves as CEO of Eagala, a nonprofit association headquartered in Santaquin, Utah. Providing training and certification in the Eagala Model of equine-assisted psychotherapy and personal development, Eagala has over 2,500 certified members in 45 countries, with over 600 programs providing Eagala Model services globally. Lynn received her Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Utah and has over 20 years’ experience working with adolescents, families, individuals and groups in various mental health settings. She served as executive director for Aspen Ranch, a residential boarding school for troubled adolescents, where she first developed a program integrating horses as the primary treatment component. After founding Eagala in 1999, Lynn continues to work with an incredible team developing and growing the organization’s training program, resources connecting the global network and presence within the mental health community at large. 

Wendy Wood is director of research of the Temple Grandin Equine Center (TGEC) and professor of equine sciences and occupational therapy at Colorado State University. As the TGEC’s research director, Dr. Wood mentors undergraduate and graduate students (MS and PhD) in research of equine-assisted activities and therapies. Guided by Dr. Wood, these students have partnered with interdisciplinary teams of educators, equine specialists and scientists, health professionals and social scientists to conduct: 1) systematic mapping reviews of literature pertaining to equine-assisted interventions; 2) research of a program of equine-assisted activities for older adults with dementia; 3) and research of equine-assisted occupational therapy for children with autism. Dr. Wood, her collaborators and students have presented their findings at regional, national and international meetings, and also published findings in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, and Journal of Autism and Developmental Disability. 

Dr. Wood serves on the scientific advisory board for Horses and Humans Research Foundation. 

Dear PATH Intl. membership,

It is with great pleasure that your 2018 PATH Intl. Credentialing Council shares its first communication to the membership regarding council tasks and accomplishments.

Since being elected to the council in September, we have accomplished several critical steps in establishing a functional council.

Our first task was to recruit and select a qualified individual for the position of public member. The National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) defines a public member as “A representative of the consumers of services provided by a certificant population serving as a voting member on the governing body of a certification program, with all rights and privileges, including holding office and serving on committees. The public member should bring a perspective to the decision and policy making of the organization that is different from that of the certificants and should help to balance the organization’s role in protecting the public while advancing the interests of the profession.”  With this definition in mind, we began recruitment and ultimately identified two candidates. On October 19th, by majority vote, Dr. Steven Arnold was selected as the public member.

Dr. Arnold is currently the attending physician at Middlefield Family Practice, a staff physician with Trumbull Memorial Hospital and co-medical director of Burton Health Care Center. Dr. Arnold first gained horsemanship experience through 4-H in his youth which led to participation in pleasure driving. Through his medical practice he has treated many patients with disabilities and, in doing so, has experience serving families of individuals with disabilities. He is also a United States Army and Navy veteran. Dr. Arnold has experience with test development, job task analyses as well as performance analysis of test questions and procedures which will be beneficial to council tasks related to test development. We are excited about Dr. Arnold’s vast expertise and believe he will contribute a helpful perspective to council discussions. Please join us in welcoming Dr. Arnold into the PATH Intl. organization.

Our second order of business to date was to conduct an intensive review of the requirements for the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification. During our in-person meeting in San Antonio, Professional Testing, Inc. guided us through redeveloping a framework for the certification and a code of ethics in alignment with the results of the job task analysis and the parameters set by NCCA standards. More information about the objectives for this meeting can be found on the “Trek to Accrediting the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification” webpage at https://www.pathintl.org/quick-links/accrediting-tri-certification. The majority of our discussion revolved around the prerequisite experience that would characterize qualified candidates as described by the job task analysis. Honoring the work done by past volunteer certification committees and building upon the job task analysis, several options for prerequisites were discussed at a high level. Details of the prerequisites remain to be further developed as we work towards establishing demonstrable qualifications that are accessible and universally recognized. We will dig deeper into this development during our first quarter meeting on February 8 and communicate details of our work on the prerequisites as they are finalized.

Also at the San Antonio meeting, we completed our third task of determining rolling terms for council members. The terms for the 2018 PATH Intl. Credentialing Council members:

Member Name

Role on the PICC

Voting Member?

Term Duration (years)

Term Start

Term End

Patricia McCowan

Representative at Large





John Murdoch

Certified Driving Instructor – Level 1





William Lavin

Lead Site Visitor Representative





Regan Mays

Therapeutic Riding Instructor – Registered level





Steven Arnold

Public Member





Stephanie Roeter

Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning Representative





On January 4th, we completed our fourth task: election of the officer positions of chair and vice-chair. Please join us in congratulating William Lavin and Patricia McCowan for being elected to the positions of chair and vice-chair, respectively.

Member Name

Officer Position

Term Start

Term End

Patricia McCowan




William Lavin




Bill and Pat will work with the PATH Intl. staff liaison, Bret Maceyak, to coordinate council members’ ongoing efforts.

We are pleased to bring you this report of our activities over the last 5 months. We are honored to have been elected by the PATH Intl. membership and we do not take our posts lightly. We look forward to leading the organization through the pursuit of professionalizing PATH Intl. credentials through third-party accreditation of the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Certification. Watch for our next communication in two weeks regarding the tasks for our first quarter meeting.


The 2018 PATH Intl. Credentialing Council

Join the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee for a Full Day of Preconference Equine-Centered Workshops! 

All year long, the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee has been writing bi-monthly tips for PATH Intl. eNews on topics that we hope will interest, inform, amuse, and/or challenge you. Our mission is to share clear, compassionate communication with horses and humans, promoting optimal health and well-being for body, mind, and spirit.We are so excited to have the opportunity to interact directly with PATH Intl. members at our upcoming International Conference this November, and what better venue than San Antonio, Texas, land of the Alamo and the horse-infused culture of the old West. 

Equine Welfare Committee Co-Chairs Marcie Ehrman and Jo Anne Miller, along with most of the Committee members, are proud to be presenting the Equine Welfare Pre-Conference Workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 8th; a full day of interactive presentations on many aspects of the welfare of horses in the EAAT industry. 

The workshop will provide interactive sessions on relevant topics with real take-home ideas for attendees to bring back to their Centers. Marcie will welcome everyone to the conference, and begin the discussion on the importance of the equine advocate in equine welfare. Jo Anne will follow with an overview of the issues facing horses in the United States, now and in the future. Molly and Jenny will then discuss the selection and management of equines for longevity in therapeutic centers. Christina worked hard developing this session, and although she is unable to attend, the session is in good hands with Molly and Jenny. Ashley will top off the morning with an interactive discussion from a veterinarian's point of view. 

After lunch, Cathy, former chair of the Equine Welfare Committee, will share her thoughts on the needs of horses. Then Trish will discuss the emotional needs the horses in our Centers, and Jessica will talk about savvy strategies for senior horse care. JoAnne and Marcie will follow Jessica's presentation with a discussion of ways to partner with our horses to bring in revenue, when they can no longer be ridden in our programs. 

The last presentation of the day will be a special treat. Michael Kaufmann will join us for a panel discussion where YOU will have an opportunity to ask questions of the entire PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee. We hope you will consider joining us for this wonderful pre-conference workshop! 

Come and Meet the Members of the PATH Intl. EWC and our guest presenters: (This is a very brief and incomplete list of the extensive accomplishments and credentials of our committee members and guests.)  

Marcie Ehrman: Co-Chair of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee, Member of the Programs & Standards Oversight Committee, Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Instructor Mentor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning, Centered Riding Instructor, Director of Volunteer Services, and Director of EAAT at a large residential facility.  

Jo Anne Miller: Co-Chair of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee, Member of the Programs & Standards Oversight Committee, Professor of Equine Science at Randolph College, Executive Director of a PATH Intl. PAC, Executive Director of a Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Horse Rescue, and volunteers with other nonprofits to help them become sustainable and develop business and succession plans. JoAnne is also a Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Instructor Mentor, and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning.

Christina Horn: Member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee, studied Equine Management at Michigan State University and is a PATH Intl. Advanced Instructor, PATH Intl. ESMHL, PATH Intl. Mentor, EAGALA ES, and CHA Western and English Instructor. Christina is dedicated to elevating the level of care for equines working in EAAT programs, and is currently the Assistant Barn Manager at Miller & Associates in NY, where she coordinates the care of horses in the CEM Quarantine facility. 

Jenny Nell Hartung: Member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee, an FEI level Dressage and 3 Day Event rider and trainer for 40 years in addition to training Para Dressage athletes for the World Equestrian Games and Paralympics, and Program Director at Little Bit in Seattle for over 20 years where she managed and maintained a staff of 20+ horses and 50+ humans (PATH Intl. Advanced Instructor, faculty/evaluator for Registered and Advanced certification, and Mentor faculty trainer)

Jessica Normand: Member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee, Senior Director of Product Research & Development for SmartPak, holds an Associate of Science in Equine Industries and a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, and is currently pursuing her MBA from Babson College. An Individual Member of PATH Intl., Jessica volunteers for Wild Hearts Horses for Heroes. 

Molly Sweeney: Member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee, a life-long horse person with 27 years as a volunteer in the EAAT field, most of it evaluating horses for a therapeutic riding program. She is a past member of the NARHA (now PATH International) Board of Directors and the 2010 PATH Brady Award winner. Presently she is a member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee and the Founder and a Board Member of the Horses and Humans Research Foundation.

Trish Broersma: Member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee, Founder and Director of Riding Beyond, author of Riding Into Your Mythic Life: Transformational Adventures with the Horse, certified mBIT coach, served as executive director and lead instructor for two PATH Intl Premier Accredited Centers. (TRI, ESMHL, Mentor, and faculty for PATH Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning Certification Program) 

Ashley Phelps, DVM: Member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee Dr. Ashley Phelps joined Ceva Animal Health, LLC, in April 2014. While working at Ceva, she has advised veterinarians in hospitals and shelters on reducing stress during veterinary visits and hospitalization. She graduated from Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2004 and joined Equine Veterinary Associates of Olive Branch (formerly Akin Equine Veterinary Service) soon after graduation. In addition, she consulted for Memphis Zoo and volunteered for the Dogaroo, a festival which benefited a local dog park. As a student, she was a volunteer for Oktibbeha County Humane Society and chairman for the Pets in the Park festival, which was a local fundraiser for the humane society, president of the Student Chapter of AAEP and participated in many research studies including the prevalence of EPM, comparing treatment of Equine Sarcoids, digital gait analysis, characterizing HERDA, and effect of pulsing electromagnetic therapy. She brings her knowledge as a practicing veterinarian, in addition to her experiences as a veterinarian on the industry side of animal health 

Cathy Languerand: Prior Chair and current advisor to the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare CommitteeSince 1975 Cathy has worked professionally in the horse industry teaching, training, and caring for many breeds of horses for jobs in many disciplines. She has trained with the United States Pony Club, Master Instructor with the Certified Horsemanship Association, a PATH Intl. Certified Instructor, Reiki Master, and Reach Out to Horses Instructor with Anna Twinney. Cathy learned from Master Instructors to create true partnership with horses, and learned from the horses themselves lessons of body language, behavior, animal communication, and energy work.

Michael Kaufmann: Guest Facilitator, is the Farm and Wildlife Director at Green Chimneys and the director of the new Sam and Myra Ross Institute. He served the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Humane Association (AHA) as a key program director in animal-assisted activities/therapy, humane education & animal welfare. He is a current member of the Board of Trustees of PATH Intl.

And last, but certainly not least - PATH Intl. Liaison to the Equine Welfare Committee, Rachel Moore. Rachel has a Master’s of Science degree in Teaching in Education. She earned her PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructor at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding’s Approved Training Course in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and later earned her PATH Intl. Driving Instructor Certification, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning and Mentor.

Alaska - Carrie Drury, State Chair

Happy Spring from Alaska!

Save the Date and join us for our 2018 Alaska State Conference! This networking and educational event will be held on July 21st at EKG Stables in Chugiak. Earn CEUs with Jenny Nell, a PATH master instructor, and other talent as they share their knowledge and industry expertise! Bring a friend, a volunteer, a mentee, who will benefit from this professional experience of learning to empower our riders with special needs! Make sure to join our PATH Region 9 FB page for more details coming soon!

STRIDE, Inc. Networking and New Horse

It's been an exciting winter for STRIDE Inc in the Mat-Su Valley! Lots of networking going on in anticipation of this summer's program. From the 4H Horse Symposium to presenting at the 100 Plus Women Who Care MatSu Chapter meeting, STRIDE is rubbing elbows and meeting new talent at a rapid rate!

Most exciting news is the addition of a new horse to the herd, Cherokee, pictured here just before our welcoming, get-acquainted “Tea with Cherokee” in late March.


Equine Assisted Therapy Alaska

EATA would like to thank everyone who made the Cowboy Ball so spectacular! There was dining and dancing and with everyone coming out to support EATA's event, funds were raised to help the growth of EAAT industry in Anchorage!

Various non-profit organizations gathered for the Mitzvah ('do a good deed') Mall, including EATA, and it was a joy to talk and network with representatives from each group, and purchase gifts to benefit their missions. A huge thank you to all who participated!

 Alberta/BC - Karen Tanchak, State/Provincial Chair

Message from Karen Tanchak, State/Provincial Chair for BC and Alberta

It is the middle of March and I am beginning to wonder if I am going to see the dirt in my arena by June.


My EAAT horse “Albert” is wondering when he gets to go back to work.

Many of our smaller programs do not have access to an indoor facility so we are dependent on Mother Nature being kind and allowing the warmer and dryer weather to bless us.

Many programs are preparing for the Spring Sessions beginning in April. I know we share the passion of working with our wonderful participants and I encourage all of you to take some photos and share some news in our next newsletter. Let’s raise the profile of our BC and Alberta members and introduce ourselves to our Region 9 peers.

On a more serious note: I need some assistance in creating our State/Provincial Meeting for 2018. I have only heard from one member with ideas for our meeting. Please share with me what you would like to see (demo or education opportunity) in a full day event and at what location (city or facility) and month would be best suited for you. I am hoping that one or two people will be willing to assist me with the planning. You can reach out to me at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.’.

Wishing everyone a Spring in your Step alongside your equine partners!

Idaho - Annie Mabry, State Chair

Message from Annie Mabry, Idaho State Chair

It seems that our Idaho centers stay busy all year long, with new and exciting things happening on a regular basis, so collecting news for our Region 9 Quarterly newsletter was a snap. Thanks to all of you who shared with me.

By the time this newsletter is sent, news of our Idaho State Conference/Meeting should be out and registration open. If you haven’t seen it, please contact me and I will make sure it gets to you. Our 2018 Conference will be held at Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Bellevue, Idaho on Saturday, May 5th. We have an exciting array of topics and some fantastic presenters, so be sure to mark your calendar and join us!

Innovative Therapeutic Riding Program: The Incredible Horse Exhibit

Innovative Therapeutic Riding Program in Idaho Falls has the privilege of being featured in The Incredible Horse exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in Pocatello, ID, which has over 700,000 artifacts catalogued. This exhibit will be on display from January 2018 to January 2019. The exhibit has skeletons that date back 50-0.3 million years ago starting with Hyrarptherium, Mesohippus, Merychippus, Pilohippus, and Equus simplicidens ( The Hagerman Horse). The exhibit also includes examples of modern day usage of horses including ranch work, rodeo, dressage, jumping and equine facilitated activities and therapies. Interesting fact: Did you know the Pony Express was only active for 19 months?

Ride for Joy: TR and Veterans

ride for joyRide for Joy (RFJ) in Emmet, ID. Has kicked off the spring session with both our therapeutic riding and Veterans program. RFJ serves ages 4-104 years old during therapeutic riding, as well as working with the Veteran community to continue to serve and grow the Veterans program at the barn. The 2nd Ruck Up and Rebuild Veterans Retreat (R&R) takes place this May and is designed for veterans to rejuvenate, connect with other veterans and community professionals, try new and healthy activities, and learn coping skills that can be used in every day life. This three day, two night event is free to Veterans. RFJ also introduced a new program in the fall of 2017 called a “One Time Ride”. The program is for those who wonder what it would be like to ride a horse, but may not be able to commit to a full session. 2018 will be another amazing year for both two legged and four legged members of RFJ.

Ride for Joy’s wonderful Veteran’s program!

Rising Stars: Unruly Donkeys and Basketball

rising starsVolunteers from Rising Stars enjoying a rousing game of Donkey Basketball!

Rising Stars, in Twin Falls, ID. took part of one of the most unique fund raisers imagined! On Friday, March 9th Rising Stars volunteers, staff and cooperating therapists participated in the Kimberly FFA Donkey Basketball game. For those who have never played or witnessed such game, it consists of riding gentle but unruly Donkeys up and down an indoor basketball court as you pass the ball, or in some cases curl your body around the ball as your donkey makes it’s way down the court toward the hoop. As in basketball the idea is to score the most points but it is complicated by numerous unknowns along the way. The donkey might duck its head as you lean forward to catch a pass leaving you hovering in mid air befofe crashing to the floor or you might be drug off your trusty steed by an opposing player as they latch onto the ball in attempt to steal it. Some things are for sure; your donkey won’t go where you tell it to with the reins, your donkey won’t go the speed you want it to, and when you jump off the donkey to chase a loose ball he won’t follow behind as you lead him toward the ball. The list goes on and on and the possibility of coming away with several bumps and bruises is likely even for the best of “cowboys”. However, at the end of the night after coming in 2nd in a sudden death overtime championship game all of the Rising Stars players said they would do it again in a heartbeat!

Rising Stars is working hard to get things in order to open for the summer session in their new facility the beginning of June!



running w ranchRunning W Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program: Boaz, Mustangs, Veterans and Seniors

Tracy and Boaz the Mustang

Running W Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program is booming! They have started a new Veterans program, which they are purposely starting slowly as they work hard to get the word out and begin networking with other organizations. Head instructor and Founder, Cyndie Wiltsie, is taking the PATH online Veteran’s course in April to further advance her skills in working with this special population. In April they will be headed to the BLM in Boise to adopt two mustangs to train for the Veterans program. Cyndie states that these mustangs will be a mirror for those struggling with PTSD and trust issues, as you have to be black or white when working with mustangs. There is no gray. Running W already has a fantastic mustang in their program, Boaz, who many of us were able to meet last summer at our Region 9 conference. Cyndie says that a young girl named Tracy who rides Boaz in the hippotherapy program, is doing so well using her whole body to ride. She has Arthrogryposis and Boaz’s wonderful movement and calm temperament is helping her make amazing strides.

seniors and saddles(Left) Senior citizens on their way to the Seniors and Saddle program at Running W Therapeutic Riding Center

 Another great program at Running W is the Seniors and Saddles, I remember when… program. Assisted Living centers in the area bring their residents to a pre arranged 2 hour class where they can interact with the horses on the ground. They have close to 25 participants who come to visit and almost all of them will start with “I remember when…” and then they will tell you their story and are transported back to that special moment in their lives when horses were a part of it. It makes them so happy! They are then treated to a BBQ to continue to socialize and share their special stories.

Running W Seniors and Saddles participants visiting with a new friend!

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Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center: Natalie, Bob Woodruff, arena improvements, goodbye Tim

Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center has had a very exciting few months! They announce the addition of Rocky Mountain College graduate and PATH Int’l. Certified instructor, Natalie Sheffer to the team. Natalie completed her summer internship with them this past summer and proved herself as a great fit for their team. They are very excited to see how they can utilize her experience to help them better their program.

Swiftsure just finished up with a successful fund raising event, specifically for growth of their Veterans program. It was a fun evening with ABC reporter Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee as they spoke about their experiences after Bob was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Bob and Lee have created the Bob Woodruff foundation to insure that our injured service members are given the opportunity to thrive in life after service. Lee also joined us for a morning coffee talk as the wife dealing with the ups and downs the family went through – inspirational to say the least!

After 2 years of fundraising, planning and execution, Swiftsure’s previously covered outdoor arena is now FULLY ENCLOSED and in use! They now have the largest building in the county on their property giving them the ability to hold up to 4 – 7 lessons at one time indoors (with both arenas). They would like to THANK all of their generous donors for supporting this project!

With heavy hearts, Swiftsure is announcing the departure of their long time Ranch Manager, Tim Bennett, and would like to thank him for his dedication to not only the ranch but also their program and mission. They are happy to announce tha current Facilities Assistant, Salvador Ruiz, will be taking on the responsibilities of this role.

Swiftsure is looking forward to hosting the Idaho State Conference on May 5th!

Montana - Stephanie Richardson, State Chair

Message from Stephanie Richardson, Montana State Chair

With the ground thawing and the snow melting in Montana, we are gearing up for the Montana State Meeting. We will be joining together June 1 and 2, 2018 at Eagle Mount in Bozeman. Friday night is a social time to get to know other and enjoy everyone's company. Saturday will be focused on education. Your Montana state task force is looking forward to bringing everyone together. Keep an eye out for registration.

Please keep in touch Montana! We are an amazing state with exceptionally talented people that love our horses very much. Looking forward to connecting with everyone!

Sense-Ability School and Eagle Mount-Great Falls Join Forces

sense abilityBoth children and adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and faced every day, even every minute, with sensory struggles, problems with communication—both verbal and nonverbal, repetitive behaviors, fears and compulsions. As one person with ASD put it: Autism feels awful. Adults can’t hold down jobs or have normal relationships; children fail at school and have no friends. Specialized schools have been created to help children receive education in a therapeutic setting where they learn the usual academics but also how to cope in a world that doesn’t understand them. One such school has recently opened its doors in Montana – Sense-Ability School in Great Falls. A group of committed people are dedicated to bringing options and hope to families touched by ASD.

Research has found that the wonderful world of horses can contribute a new world to folks with autism. With that in mind, Sense-Ability School has partnered with Great Falls Eagle Mount to include equine therapy in the school curriculum. Using the triangular treatment team model, the horse, the equine specialist and the mental health therapist partner together to provide a safe learning environment which is specialized to the specific needs of each child.

Children have the opportunity to build relationships with horses— enjoying acceptance from these gentle giants; acceptance is something they often do not experience outside of their own homes. They learn to tolerate sensory stimulation; they learn to tolerate sights, sounds, and smells of the arena. They face their fears in a safe environment. They learn to recognize the boundaries the horses set and how to set their own. They develop balance and coordination while riding. They learn to focus on their environment learning mindfulness skills. They learn about body language and to speak up for their needs. They learn about health and self-care by learning about horse health. They learn new skills which are often scary, and they learn to keep themselves safe while looking out for the safety of others.

We have seen “Mary” tolerate the smell of horse manure. We have seen “Johnny” stand patiently until the horse turned and invited him to come closer, and standing patiently was something he had little success doing previously. “Bobby” learned about sitting up straight and balancing with his arms outstretched as he rode around the arena. “Susan” got to lay her head against the horses belly and listen to the mysterious sounds of the inside of the horse. “Andrew” got to not only learn to halter the horse but to lead her around the arena. “Phillip” got to see horses set boundaries with each other. “Karen” learned it is just fine to speak up and say she was afraid.

Sense-Ability and Eagle Mount-Great Falls are excited to be able to create this learning environment. Our goal is that these children learn in an environment where they are happy and are successful to their full potential. We want to see them grow up to contribute their unique talents and gifts to their community. Our world needs what these kids have to offer, and we want to help them see their possibilities and be all they can be. To learn more about this program, call Sense-Ability School at 406-952-0281.

Oregon - Amanda Garrison, State Chair

Message from Amanda Garrison, Oregon State Chair

The Oregon State Meeting is scheduled for June 1st in Bend at Healing Reins. Please contact Oregon State Chair, Amanda Garrison at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Polly Cohen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in presenting or if there is something specific you would like to see!

Recently, Senate Bill 1533 and House Bill 4100 passed, allowing equine assisted activities and therapy centers in Oregon to do hippotherapy and equine facilitated psychotherapy on Exclusive Farm Use land, even if the client is not in direct contact with the equine during the entire session. This clarifies vague laws that were restricting client services at centers. Now we can continue to expand programs and better serve our communities.

Healing Reins

(Left) A rainbow “sign.” Healing Reins has started a collaboration with Treehouse Therapies Associate, with a farm clinic onsite at Healing Reins. With the barn on the left and the clinic on the right mere steps away from each other, this is therapeutic services at its best.

(Right) Hollie and Hope participate in Dr. Seuss week at Healing Reins

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forward stride

 Forward Stride

Forward Stride welcomed a new member into their herd, a Haflinger gelding named Bennie. With his extensive driving experience, Bennie will help Forward Stride move forward with adding a carriage driving program.

Forward Stride’s Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy program added a 10 week Women’s Trauma Group. This group will provide support, aid in trauma processing, and promote healing in a safe group environment.

Forward Stride just hosted a very successful auction and gala. It was their most successful event yet. The event was also attended by Oregon Governor, Kate Brown. 


Washington - Teresa Bron, East WA State Chair, West WA State Chair Devon Stone

Message from Teresa Bron, Eastern WA State Chair:

I will be contacting centers to visit them whenever I’m in the area. We have also added Devon Stone from Little Bit to help with the western side of the state as the western State Chair. Hopefully this will help us to reach out to everyone in our PATH Intl. centers in the State of Washington!

See you all in Ellensburg at Spirit Therapeutic on June 1 and 2, 2018 for our WA State Meeting,

Teresa Bron
Equine Coordinator/Instructor
Pegasus Project Yakima

New Indoor Area in Yakima

We have had a remodel to our indoor arena here at Pegasus Project in Yakima. We added an enclosed playroom for the kids, and the parents can sit in there to watch lessons as well. It’s heated so we can keep our parents and family members/ care givers more comfortable during the winter season. We had our annual Spurs fundraiser in January and we were very successful in raising funds again this year, so we have some nice projects planned ahead.

One of those projects is a Carriage Driving Demo this fall for people who are interested in becoming either an Able Bodied Whip for a therapeutic driving program or for drivers who may want to even get PATH Intl. certified.

Honoring Volunteers at Equest Special Riders

Equest Special Riders Inc. of Tacoma, WA has been in existence since 1982 and is our featured program in WA state for this newsletter. Here is a wonderful story of how they honor their volunteers:

Our program has been through many volunteers, horses and riders. For the last 4 years we have been celebrating our volunteers for all the time they’ve put in to volunteering at Equest Special Riders Inc. and to show them just how much we appreciate them.

On February 10, 2018, we celebrated 30 Volunteers (not all present) and 8 board members (also not all present) with a total of 2967 Hours volunteered for the 2017 year. Everyone receives a certificate no matter the amount of hours they have volunteered. We also give out items according to the bracket of hours that the volunteers fall under.

The top 3 volunteers with the most hours got a vest with our logo, their name and the year embroidered on it. Volunteers with anywhere between 1-25 hours receive a trophy and a key chain with our logo engraved on it. Volunteers in between those hours got beanies, hoodies or jackets according to their hours volunteered. The Vice President of the board presented the awards. We had at least 20 of our volunteers show up, some with family, to celebrate with food, beverages, beverages and reminiscing on the previous year. We plan to continue celebrating our volunteers every year so that they know we truly appreciate all their hard work.

Little Bit Starts New Literacy Program: Pages with Pete

little bitLittle Bit Therapeutic Riding Center is starting a new literacy therapy program! Pages with Pete will be led by Leslie Delorenzi, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist and licensed Dyslexia Therapist. The group will consist of pre-reading activities such as listening, rhyming, and syllable awareness. (Skills will be tailored to the needs of the group). This fun group will feature active play in the clinic and arena with Pete, our mini horse.

1. is developmentally at the age of 4 or 5 (but chronologically no older than 8 years old)
2. is able to sit and attend for 10-15 minute periods of time.
3. is able to follow directions and complete age-appropriate work, such as crafts, with some independence.
4. is able to appropriately engage with similarly-aged peers.

1. Listening skills
2. Rhyme recognition
3. Hearing words in sentences
4. Awareness of syllables



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