About PATH Intl.

Congratulations to Sue Adams the second PATH Intl. Member of the month for March!

Sue Adams proudly declares she works for “Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. in New Jersey.....Yeah!!” A PATH Intl. Life Member, Sue first joined the association in 1989 and has been a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor since 1993. She also serves as faculty/evaluator for PATH Intl. instructor candidates.

Sue said her favorite thing about the EAAT community is that it’s ever growing and everyone loves to network. Her first career was as an elementary school teacher, “…till kids came along!” She first learned about EAAT from a small, 2” x 3” article in a horse magazine about Sabastian Riding Associates, a PATH Intl. Center Member in Collegeville, PA. She was, “bitten by the TR bug!”

Most people probably don't know Sue was in a rock band for 10 years, through grammar school, high school and college! Rock on, Sue! About her favorite horse, Danny, her mountain horse, she says, “He took care of me for 19 years and so many program kids for the last seven years of his life. He was safe, willing and could read the kids’ minds to know just how to help them succeed. And he was stoic while they groomed, touched, hugged and kissed him with unending love.” She also relayed, “In the beginning of my EAAT career, I worked with a young, young boy who doctors said wouldn't amount to anything. He started out in full leg braces then went to below the knee, then to moffos. From standing unassisted to walking to running. He was our poster child. He left the program to show his own pony in local shows. He also became a six-time champion with his minis. Now 30 years later, he is a professional welder and just got married. Guess those doctors were WRONG!!!

“Now I love teaching my silver saddle groups. Those over 55 who have always wanted to ride but never had the time in their earlier years. Some have hearing problems, arthritis, delayed processing and assorted other things. But they learn, we laugh and we socialize while having a great time in the ring.”

What’s a life lesson Sue had to learn the hard way? “Forgiveness…Still working on it!! LOL.” She has a great piece of advice to share with her fellow PATH Intl. Members—“Treat the EAAT program as a business. Have a strategic plan, know your community and build a strong staff of devoted people who know their jobs and will get paid well for doing it.” Her dream fulfilled for the future of PATH Intl. and EAAT would be that all programs be federally funded to support individuals with challenges, resulting in a greater number of people active within their communities.

When asked to complete the following sentence? When I wear my PATH Intl. logo (or otherwise display my affiliation), I feel: “Pride in what the association has become and the networking within the EAAT community. Also happy that people recognize the logo and what we do within the industry.”

We hope you’re proud of yourself too, Sue, because you are awesome!

Congratulations to Chelsea Packard the first PATH Intl. Member of the month for March!

chelsea packard 1Chelsea is with Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Loxahatchee, FL. She joined PATH Intl. in 2012 after completing an internship at Central Kentucky Riding for Hope a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Lexington, KY. She was a social work major and wanted to combine a love of horses and helping people. She saw joining PATH Intl. and becoming a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor as the first step toward a wonderful opportunity to use her skills and work her dream.

Chelsea’s favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community? “I have loved the networking opportunities and resources that connect individuals from across the country who are using the same modality-horses, to impact the lives of others in life changing ways.”

A social worker and therapist, Chelsea worked in child and family services for over 7 years made up of jobs including child protective services. She first learned about EAAT in high school when she heard about a local therapeutic riding center near her home in south Florida-Vinceremos. She went to college in the horse country of Kentucky with the desire and passion to combine therapy and horses. While there she pioneered a collaborative, mental health internship between Asbury University and Central Kentucky Riding for Hope. It was there she realized the dream she’d had from a young age was possible and had the ability to be a sustainable career. Life took her home to Florida and Vinceremos as head of their EAAT programming for school groups, veterans services and youth in foster care.

chelsea packard 2When asked to tell us something about herself that most people don't know, she replied, “I participate in cowboy mounted shooting for fun, love to travel and have been to 12 countries, am quite goofy and I enjoy randomly bursting into song during a conversation when someone speaks lyrics and doesn't realize it!”


She states a favorite horse is, “Guinness, an 11 year old, 14.3, black and tan Quarter Horse gelding, an intricate part of the EAAT program. He would rather be with people than horses. He generally seeks out and joins up with the most anxious humans in my groups instantly and stands beside them. He makes people laugh and smile with a nuzzle of his muzzle and a nice deep exhale which covers them in dirt. He is expressive with his mannerisms during grooming and loves a good scratch on the chest and behind his ears. He is an active participant in EFP sessions giving authentic and genuine feedback. He has an unknown traumatic past involving being used for long trail rides, which causes him bouts of anxiety when placed in new situations where he must think and process for himself, rather than follow someone else’s lead. This allows participants to stay attuned to him and his needs, while they also practice developing their own healthy coping skills. He is able to regulate himself when his participants are successful in regulating their own emotions. His name stems from his coloring which also brings up additional conversations about alcohol and other negative coping skills. He has taught me a lot about the importance of relationships in the healing process.”

When recalling a memorable participant, Chelsea said, “I work with a lot of veterans, one in particular was a young veteran who served in Afghanistan and the Ukraine who struggled with the moral stress of the atrocities he experienced. He was extremely self-aware and always wanted to go deeper into the understanding of himself. Throughout his time working with the group of other veterans and horses, he was able to begin interacting with others during trips to the supermarket and slowly began to trust others. He was able to laugh during sessions and always took applicable takeaways after each group. At times he was quite challenging in his deep psychological thoughts, but working with him was also rewarding because he came ready to work on his stuff. Watching his trust in himself and others grow was so beautiful.”
A lesson she had to learn the hard way? “I have been learning the importance of self-care and boundaries. Realizing the hard way, that saying no, is acceptable and healthy when ones values are going to compromised.

She wishes to share to following advice with her fellow PATH Intl. Members.
“Don't ever compromise on all aspects of safety--psychological, emotional and physical. Please refer out to others when you are out of your area of expertise, and don't be afraid to reach out to others when you have questions, feel alone, and are struggling with the difficult parts of navigating the process of this business. The relationships I have formed with other professionals around the nation have allowed me to grow personally and professionally into the clinician I am today. I want to say a big "thank you!" to my friends and mentors along the way and who will be in the future.

When asked about her dreams for the future of EAAT she replied, “I am excited about the increase in evidenced-based research happening across the world, in the field of EAAT. This turns the "magic" we see into concrete, evidenced-based outcomes and principles that are replicable in various locations. Facilitating opportunities for healing and wholeness for others utilizing the relationship of the horse has been a dream come true. I wish for a day, where doctors are proactively and rapidly prescribing equine therapy as an effective service for individuals navigating life various challenges.”

Chelsea says when she wears her PATH Intl. logo she feels, “Connected to something larger than myself, a network of professionals across the globe working towards making life a little bit better for others." Thank YOU, Chelsea!

PATH Intl. Mission

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) promotes safety and optimal outcomes in equine-assisted activities and therapies for individuals with special needs.

PATH Intl. Vision

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) is a global authority, resource and advocate for equine-assisted activities and therapies and the equines in this work that inspire and enrich the human spirit.

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 more than 880 member centers and more than 8,000 individual members in countries all over the world, who help and support more than 66,000 men, women and children--including more than 6,200 veterans--with special needs each year through a variety of equine-assisted activities and therapies 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 activities and therapies (or EAAT). Besides horseback riding, EAAT also includes therapeutic carriage driving; interactive vaulting, which is similar to gymnastics on horseback; equine-facilitated learning and mental health, which partner with the horse in cognitive and behavioral therapy, usually with the participation of a licensed therapist; ground work and stable management; and PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes®, which uses a variety of EAAT 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 EAAT.

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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 EAAT 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 Equestrian Professional. 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 HeroesEFP-EFL

Additional Sponsors

AdequanEQUUS FoundationMarkel Insurance CompanyCavalloRIDE TV