About PATH Intl.

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!

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