About PATH Intl.

PATH Intl. Mission

We lead the advancement of professional equine-assisted services by supporting our members and stakeholders through rigorously developed standards, credentialing and education.

PATH Intl. Vision

To ensure universal recognition of professional equine-assisted services and their transformative impacts that enrich lives.

What is PATH Intl.?

PATH Intl. was founded in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) to promote safe and effective therapeutic horseback riding throughout the United States and Canada. Today, PATH Intl. has 873 member centers and nearly 8,000 individual members in countries all over the world, who help and support almost 69,000 men, women and children--including more than 6,700 veterans--with special needs each year through a variety of equine-assisted services programs.

Though PATH Intl. began with a focus on horseback riding as a form of physical and mental therapy, the organization and its dedicated members have since developed a multitude of different equine-related activities for therapeutic purposes, collectively known as equine-assisted services (or EAS). Besides horseback riding, EAS also includes therapeutic carriage driving; interactive vaulting, which is similar to gymnastics on horseback; equine-assisted learning, in which those licensed in human development or teaching partner with the horse in those fields, and licensed PT, OT, PT/SLP, and mental health professionals utilize treatment strategies incorporating the horse; ground work and stable management; and PATH International Equine Services for Heroes®, which uses a variety of EAS disciplines specifically to help war veterans and military personnel. In addition, many PATH Intl. volunteer-driven committees are working on identifying and refining even more disciplines and activities that might be put to use in the world of EAS.

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Core Values

Access and inclusion – promoting diversity and opportunity in equine-assisted activities and therapies.

Compassion and caring – providing a culture of safety, understanding and ethical treatment of humans and horses engaged in equine-assisted activities and therapies.

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Benefits of Membership

There are many benefits to being a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) member or to a center being a PATH Intl. center. Members receive access to several publications that keep them abreast of news, trends, information and events at PATH Intl. and in the Equine-assisted Services (EAS) field, including the quarterly PATH Intl. Strides magazine and the bi-monthly PATH Intl. eNews. Members also receive access to the Member Directory, which allows members to search for colleagues by name, city or state. Instructors can search for mentors who have taken the PATH Intl. mentor training workshop or by an individual's professional credentials. Individuals also receive a 10% discount to EquestrianProfessional.com, a horse business resource.

As a PATH Intl. member center, members have access to EquestrianProfessional.com. Centers also have online learning opportunities including the Standards Course and the volunteer training course. Further, PATH Intl. underwrites the application for one registered instructor applicant annually for each PATH Intl. center member. Be sure to take advantage of this benefit to encourage individuals affiliated with your center to gain their instructor certification.

Click here for a full listing of PATH Intl. membership and center membership benefits.

horse-babyPATH Intl. History

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), along with its dedicated members and volunteers, has been a pioneer in the field of EAAT, bringing the novel idea of therapeutic horseback riding to the United States from Europe in the middle of the twentieth century. Lis Hartel, an award-winning dressage rider from Denmark, is generally regarded as the impetus for the development of therapeutic riding in Europe. Despite being physically impaired by polio, Hartel took the silver medal in Grand Prix dressage at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, and medical and equine professionals around Europe soon began to implement programs for riding as a form of physical therapy.

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Name Change

The Board of Trustees and staff announced in June 2011 that the association's name NARHA officially became the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). The association tagline is "Ensuring excellence and changing lives through equine-assisted activities and therapies." This name change will open doors to a myriad of inclusive possibilities and matches the growth of the equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) industry. PATH International vows to continue to provide its membership with an ever-evolving and progressive level of quality. The association promises that the service members receive will be positive, knowledgeable and friendly. The educational opportunities offered will continue to challenge and enlighten. Click here for more about the name change.

Future Trends

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) is constantly seeking to expand and improve its programs and membership, which it has done with astonishing success over the past 40 years. Today, PATH Intl. boasts thousands of members, hundreds of volunteers, the best standards in the industry and several different EAAT disciplines and certification levels. Still, PATH Intl. continues to seek newer and better ways to practice and promote EAAT. Click below to read the PATH Intl. Strategic Plan updates. Click here for information on accrediting the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification.

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Community Building Initiative

Robert Putnam’s ground-breaking research in his book Bowling Alone (Simon and Schuster, 2000) warned that the very fabric of our connections with each other has plummeted, resulting in impoverished lives and communities. An example of this phenomenon exists within PATH Int’l as out of the approximately 8,000 members, a small percentage at any given time are active volunteers who directly influence the direction of the association. This finding, in collaboration with the forward thinking vision of the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees and staff has galvanized PATH Intl. to take a lead in creating a platform with processes that support the development of communities.

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Who Is Served

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) members, instructors and centers serve participants of all ages and with a range of physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive challenges. Not all PATH Intl. instructors or programs serve every population, but the following is a very short list of conditions and challenges helped every day through PATH Intl. and EAAT.

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Disaster Relief Fund

Distribution Guidelines

Purpose of Fund: To assist Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) centers (with an immediate need) in funding expenses after natural or manmade catastrophic disasters. Disasters within the scope of the PATH Intl. Disaster Relief Fund are those natural occurrences (e.g., hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, drought) or negligent, intentional or criminal acts of man, that cause catastrophic loss having a direct and substantial adverse financial impact on a PATH Intl. Center in good standing. A federal or state disaster declaration is dispositive proof that a disaster has occurred within a defined geographic area.

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Therapeutic RidingTherapeutic DrivingInteractive VaultingEquine Services for Heroes

Additional Sponsors

EQUUS FoundationMarkel Insurance CompanyCavalloRIDE TV