2020 Year of the PATH Intl. Member

ruth w horseIf there’s one thing the EAAT community loves more than improving lives safely, it’s a celebration. PATH Intl. Members will hopefully be excited that 2020 is officially the year of the member! The association plans to celebrate and show its members love all year long. Show your love for PATH Intl. membership throughout the year and have the chance for prizes and inclusion on social media and in upcoming eNews issues and Strides magazine.

Watch for a year full of new member benefits coming your way!  This includes Member Connections for easy and enhanced networking and discussion. Watch for a new longevity program launching this year. We’ll also have member’s only appreciation discounts and presales throughout 2020. And centers will love the launch of Grant Station as a benefit in the very near future. With tools and info for securing funding, this great new benefit will help fund your mission and it be unveiled in the very near future.

The photos below are a great example of a group of hard workers who very clearly love their PATH Intl. membership. Pictured are Hector Antonio Guzman (Hector), Santo Inoa (Sandy), Keny Vega (Keny), Eutacio Devora Caraballo (Blanco), Francisco Antonio Vazquez Galan (Chikito), front row Nicole Clausen and Ruth Claus. Ruth (a PATH Intl. Registered Instructor) is the director of a new center EEAT center in the Dominican Republic, Ranch Playa. The whole team had a fun day as you can see. Please note the awesome cake!

While we don’t expect everyone will be able to bring a cake to the table, we’d love, love, love to see more creative photos and video demonstrating your love for PATH Intl. If you’re so inclined, it would be really fun to include the “I ♥ PATH Intl. Membership" image in your photo or video submissions. The image can be found here and printed. Throughout the year we’ll use the images in social media and other marketing materials. Please email video or images plus a photo release form to Kaye Marks, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If your video is too large for email, let Kaye know and she can give you some upload options. Random entries will receive prizes throughout the year!

Cheers to you, our PATH Intl. Members! Happy 2020, the year of the member!

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Member of the Month: Lena Dubensky

Lena Dubensky from The Right Step, Inc., a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Littleton, CO, is December’s second member of the month! Lena first joined PATH Intl. in 2006 when she became an instructor. (Lena now has her PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor credential as well as being certified as an ESMHL!) “Therapeutic riding has been a part of my life since I was a child because my mom started a program. I wanted to become a member as soon as I was able!” She literally grew up in the therapeutic riding and EAAT space!

What's her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community? “The collaboration, kindness and willingness to share ideas.” Lena first worked in ticket sales in college athletics, but her first therapeutic riding job was working as an instructor at GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Milford, PA. She says most of us probably don't know her in-laws are Lebanese and she’s learning Arabic!

We asked her to tell us about a favorite horse. “My favorite horse was named Diggy. He passed away in March 2018, after almost 20 years together. He was the herd leader and led by example, never letting the other horses fight too long. He was a fantastic therapeutic riding horse and would size up his riders, determining how fast or slow he should go. His gentle manner and kind eyes drew everyone to him and his presence is sorely missed.”

When reflecting about favorite participants, she shared a priceless story with a motto we should all remember. “I taught for a summer camp where all the participants had some sort of special need. The camps were a whirlwind of mounting, dismounting and squeezing in a quick lesson. I used to joke with the riders about how special our barn was and that it never rained there and there were no bad days. After a couple sessions, the riders picked up on the joke and would come in yelling “no bad days!” It made me laugh every time and feel so good that at least for that time, everyone was happy and carefree.”

A life lesson she had to learn the hard way? “I learned how to take people as they are that day and let go of expectations. When I first started teaching, I would come in with my lesson plan built off last time’s lesson and expect the rider to be able to progress. That isn’t always true. Sometimes the rider needs a different lesson or isn’t able to do something they could do last week. I’ve taken this lesson throughout my life to accept everyone I meet exactly as they are.” What's a piece of advice she’d like to share with fellow PATH Intl. Members? “Reach out and ask questions. This community is growing and always willing to help. Someone has probably dealt with the same issue you have and wants to share their knowledge.” We asked Lena about her vision for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, and she said, “I would love to see sustainable careers and mainstream knowledge of PATH Intl. It would be incredible for every instructor to earn a living wage just by teaching and to tell people they work for a PATH Intl. Center and have the public know what that means. When I wear my PATH Intl. logo, I feel PROUD!”

We’re proud to highlight this kind and soulful member and are grateful to have her as part of our community. Just imagine if everyone were to wake each day and proclaim out loud or think to themselves, “No bad days!”

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Regan Mays

Please meet the first of two PATH Intl. Members of the month, Regan Mays from PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship in Los Angeles, CA.

Regan has been riding, owning, and showing horses in a variety of disciplines since childhood. She received degrees in Psychology, Drama, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health from New York University (NYU), and is a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Regan has served on the PATH Intl. Credentialing Council since its inception. She’s part of the EAT-PTSD research project with Columbia University and Man O’ War Project, she’s also contributed to PATH Intl. Strides magazine.

Regan’s career of choice has been EAAT from the start. She first learned about EAAT by volunteering at a PATH Intl. center in Scottsdale, AZ over a winter break during college. She first joined PATH Intl. in 2015, after graduating from New York University, when she began the PATH Intl. certification process. She worked as the Equine Coordinator for PATH Intl. Center Member Flying Manes Therapeutic Riding in the Bronx while attending school and currently she’s the creator of Ride On’s Yoga Therapy and equine-facilitated mental health programs. She says her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is the community itself.

We asked her to tell us something about herself that most people don't know and she shared, “I'm allergic to camels!” When asked about a favorite horse? “My first horse, when I was 8 years old, Classic Steel was his registered name. He was a beautiful grulla Quarter Horse, and had been an AQHA World Champion in Trail. He was a perfect first horse and even saw me off to college before passing to greener pastures.” About her participants she says, “All of my riders make me smile in their own special way.”

A life lesson she’s had to learn the hard way? She said, “Hard to share- I'm still learning them! At the moment I'm focusing on the life lesson of "detachment." When we asked her to share a piece of advice with her fellow PATH Intl. Members, she gave a great piece of advice. “Get involved with your communities: from PATH Intl. to the local news station, it only takes one conversation about EAAT to make a difference.” Her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT? “That the medical community at large will accept and endorse EAAT, so that more individuals can experience and benefit from it.”

When Regan wears her PATH Intl. logo, she said she feels, “gratified.” Well. Regan, PATH Intl. is grateful to spearhead such a wonderful membership community and we couldn’t be happier that you are a part of this bold and fabulous industry!

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Linda Wanamaker

Meet Linda Wanamaker, October’s second PATH Intl. Member of the Month! Linda is with Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center in Vineyards, Massachusetts! Linda first joined in 2013 to do what she loves--helping people. Her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is, “the connection to a community I’m proud to serve." Linda’s first career was as a riding instructor, so she has known about EAAT for 30 years and has spoken at Lesley University in Cambridge about alternative therapies of healing with equines.

The story of her favorite horse is so heartwarming! She tells us, “Noble has been a therapeutic horse for half his life. He’s now 30. When the center tried to retire him he broke out of his new home and walked 9 miles in the night back to his therapeutic center! Ahhhhh, Noble! An equally endearing story of a favorite participant also warms the heart, but of course it does. “Stella at 5 years old was too afraid to even get out of the car. Six months later she trotted independently and was 3rd in a class of 10!”

When we asked Linda to share with us a life lesson she had to learn the hard way, she said, “Trying to keep others happy by not totally immersing myself in my work with the job I love- therapeutic riding instructor. And some important advice from Linda was, “If you love what you do it’s a joy- share your love with everyone you meet!”

Her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, would be, “Huge donations for the therapeutic riding programs and huge recognition for the volunteers!”

She said when she wears her PATH Intl. logo she feels, “Immensely proud and grateful!” PATH Intl. is immensely proud and grateful to have you as a member, Linda. Thank you!

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Rachel Royston

Rachel first joined PATH Intl. in 2008 when she had a new friend who was a NARHA instructor who insisted she volunteer with the Indiana School for the Blind. Her friend worked on her for a couple of months before her boss told her to take a long lunch so she could see what it was all about. Currently she’s with Turning Point Ranch Therapeutic Riding Center, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Stillwater, OK.

She says her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is serving people who are facing enormous challenges and helping them conquer - whether it’s sitting up straight, learning how to establish boundaries or developing a partnership with a horse that will serve them in every aspect of their life.

Rachel’s first career was as a radio news reporter in Wichita, KS. Then she learned about EAAT from, “Carol Briggs, my friend who was an instructor. She encouraged me to put feet on the ground and then made it possible for me to train and become certified.” We love Carol too! Hi Carol!

When asked to please tell us something about herself that most people don't know, she said, “I was a synchronized swimmer in college. A bad one, but was on the team, nonetheless. Bless my fellow Aquarinas' hearts!”

Rachel tells us, “My heart horse was Ted. When I went to check him out I did not know he was in a rescue situation. He was skin and bones, teeth cutting his mouth, hooves long and ragged. But you could see a gleam in his eye and that he was a good boy. He interacted with us and was fully engaged. In fact, we were told later that another family came to see him directly after our visit. Ted ran from them and would not let them touch him. My husband knew Ted was 'the one' even though we'd looked at several other horses. The person I got him from said he was 15, but after having his teeth taken care of, it was easy to tell he was at least 20-25. Ted and I developed an amazing relationship as I worked to get him back to health. We rode bareback most of the time, which was a fun challenge in the beginning. He had learned somewhere that he could get out of being ridden by rolling or making a sharp right. Lucky for us, he and I were equal amounts snarky and loved spending time together.

After having him for a couple of years, I asked if he could be tried for an EAAT horse at Agape. He made the team and for 2.5 years was an amazing partner for our riders. He loved the brain candy! He was patient with beginners and was such a safe challenge for our independent riders. If a volunteer did not use the correct technique or held his lead too close to his head, he was the first one to redirect them to pay attention! He was retired when we determined his arthritis and age were too advanced. He would have happily served until the day he died if he was given the choice.

Ted got to spend the last couple of years of his life fat and happy, roaming his 20 acres with his pasture mate, Dusty. Those two years were probably the sweetest because time spent together was precious and short. Ted died in his favorite spot in the meadow at the age of what we guess to be around 31. He taught me so much about what it means to be there for someone and that you can NEVER judge a book by its cover or a horse by his past neglect. He was a gem.”

A favorite participant? “T was one of the first kids I volunteered with. He came with the Indiana School for the Blind and LOVED riding! Most of the kids at ISB had other physical challenges as well as vision impairment. T had CP. After volunteering for 2 years I earned my certification and was able to teach the class from ISB.
Fast forward 6 years - I was teaching ISB riders, some of them who were riding when I first started. T was one of those riders. He was now a very tall, lanky high schooler. He had to mount and dismount his horse from the right with much assistance because of his physical challenges.

"Each week we had a new topic - this particular week was Courage. T was the epitome of Courage. The lesson plan included riding bareback to different barrels in the arena with a directive on it. It might be riding with your hands above your head, lying on your horse's back, riding backwards, trotting... T was all about it. When it was time to ride backwards, T was assisted in turning around on his horse to face backwards. Long story short, T wanted to ride backwards all the time! He never faltered when faced with a challenge. He never hesitated to ask for assistance if he couldn't get it done himself. He ALWAYS tried new things and taught me to be still and wait so that he could achieve his goals. I will never forget T and all that he taught me.”

We asked her to please share with us of a life lesson you had to learn the hard way. Rachel said, “Failing certification to be a registered instructor was one of the hardest lessons! I had no idea what I didn't know until it was time test for certification. Everything at my barn was smooth and I had no issues. When I failed certification and faced the hard reality that I was in no way ready to serve my riders with the quality they deserved, I felt the 40+ teaching hours during my IT internship had been a waste. I wanted to blame my mentor, but ultimately it was my responsibility. I slinked back to the barn, tail between my legs and licked my wounds. My program coordinator helped prop me back up and we began to figure out what was necessary to become not only an instructor, but a GOOD instructor. Ego painstakingly set aside, I started over with a renewed focus and passion, went back to test again and became a NARHA Registered Instructor. I needed this life lesson so that I can effectively help other instructors in training. I didn't think it was good to fail at the time, but I would not trade it for world now, because I am a much better instructor for it.”

What's a piece of advice she'd like to share with her fellow PATH Intl. Members? “Each day is new! This field is as challenging as it is rewarding and if you stick with it you find that there is no better way to 'spend' your life.”

If Rachel could have her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, it would be, “That there will not be a single school, group home, retirement residence or any other organization who serves the marginalized in our communities that is not served by EAAT.”

She said when wearing her PATH Intl. logo, she feels, “Proud.”

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Laura Lovelace

Our second September member of the month is Laura Lovelace from PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center, MACH1 (Move a Child Higher) in Pasadena, CA! Laura joined PATH Intl. about three years ago as she became interested in becoming a certified instructor. She first learned about EAAT from a recreational therapist following being released from the hospital after a car accident.

Coming from a career as an elementary school teacher, Laura gave one of the best answers to the question: What is your favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community? “Smiles,” she said!  “Smiles on riders, instructors, sidewalkers and parents!”

Laura says people who know her as a teacher are usually surprised to find out she had a speaking role in the films Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, and that she was a music consultant for Pulp Fiction. That’s very cool, Laura! She has a pretty great story about a favorite horse she has too. “My current therapist/horse is Dr. Dotz, a huge black and white draft horse who’s not scared of anything--very good for me! My favorite Dotz story involves him going through a training to desensitize your horse by the police department. When confronted by a burning trashcan Dotz sized up the situation and peed on the fire putting it out. My hero!”

She says one favorite participant is Sofia who is only about seven. “She loves to ride and sing. I was very impressed when she stayed focused and sang the entire National Anthem while riding!”

A life lesson she had to learn the hard way? “If you are willing to work really hard, not get discouraged, you can accomplish great and wonderful things!” A piece of advice you'd like to share with her fellow PATH Intl. Members? “Enjoy every beautiful day. Enjoy every ride, especially when a butterfly lands on your horse’s ear. Share your joy!”

She says If she could have her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, she would wish for ‘plenty of food, nice homes/stables for the horses and riders and lots of scientific evidence/data to back up what we already know.” When she wears her PATH Intl. logo she feels, “So proud!”

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Elizabeth Karmann

Elizabeth Karrmann from Green Bay, Wisconsin, is the first PATH Intl. member of the month for September! Elizabeth from Exceptional Equestrians is by no means new to EAAT but a relatively new member of PATH Intl. (first joined In January 2019), she says, “only after realizing I should have joined years ago!”

Elizabeth says her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is, “I love the sense of community you find in an EAAT barn. Everyone is united by the same goals and love for horses.” Her first career was as the equine manager for a therapeutic riding program. "I started volunteering with the local therapeutic riding center as soon as I turned 14. I was a horse-crazy kid desperate for any chance possible to interact with horses. Volunteering with the program was a huge part of my life and my decision to get my degree in animal science.”

She tells us, “In addition to horses, I am also involved in the dog world. I have an Australian Shepherd, Darcy, who loves to participate in agility. My goal this year is to get back into competing with her.” We asked if she could tell us about a favorite horse. “One in particular stands out -- a beefy Belgian/Quarter Horse cross gelding named Achilles. I worked at a summer camp for a few years where he was a perpetual favorite. When that camp closed, I brought him into the therapeutic riding program where I was equine manager. He had a personality as big as his massive girth, and a heart to match. He tested our volunteers’ skills, determination, and patience, but they loved him. That program recently closed, but I was able to bring him into a new program where I took a job... I can’t stand not to keep this guy around!”

And a favorite participant? “We had one group of older riders who came every Monday night. They would help brush their horses before they rode. One gentleman in that group was my favorite- he adored his horse, a Percheron mare named Glory, and he loved to brush and pamper her. I think he would have happily brushed for the whole lesson!”

When we asked Elizabeth to share something she had to learn the hard way she relayed a story we have unfortunately heard fairly often. “I was recently involved with shutting down a long-time therapeutic riding program. It was heart-breaking for everyone involved. The catalyst for this was the sudden loss of the program’s founder and director two years before. She ran the program for 30 years, and poured her heart and soul into it. Unfortunately, her passion for the program was in a way its undoing, since it left us with a huge hole that we couldn’t fill. Transparency, record-keeping, and willingness to delegate duties make future transitions much smoother and give a program a much better chance to survive.”

What's a piece of advice she'd like to share with her fellow PATH Intl. Members? “Never stop learning. The EAAT field, as well as the equine field in general, is constantly changing and progressing, giving us new and better options all the time.”

For the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, Elizabeth wishes, “To have the organization and the field continue to grow, and for more people to learn about the amazing power horses have to help and heal.” We asked her to tell us how she feels when she wears her PATH Intl. logo and she said, “Proud! I love when people see and ask about the organization and the work we do, and I’m always happy to share my experiences.” Thank you, Elizabeth! We’re proud to know you and so glad you became a member!

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Audrey Adamson

Audrey Adamson’s name might be familiar to PATH Intl. members living in the southeast as she is the PATH Intl. Region 5 membership outreach committee representative. Region 5 encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, Africa and the Caribbean Islands.

Audrey first joined PATH Intl. in 2001 (then NARHA). She was doing her internships in both psychology and nonprofit management at a local nonprofit center. She fell in love with the kids and the horses, saying, “It was almost magical to see the change the horses helped the riders with. I had never wanted to be a therapist and sit in an office. This was perfect for me! My advisor in psychology knew me well and my desire to work with children. He suggested a local center for my psychology practicum. My local center was a non-profit so I was able to combine both internships. I learned so much about how a nonprofit works, but the most exciting part was watching the children I worked with bloom.”

Her favorite thing about being in the EAAT community is giving hope. “I love sharing about EAAT and bringing in new riders who thought they wouldn't find something fun they could do. I love seeing the hope in the riders’ eyes as they build self-confidence. The look of hope in the parents' eyes when they realize there is something tailored to their child and that they would be able to succeed.”

Unlike many of the instructors we’ve profiled, Audrey says, “Being a PATH Intl. Registered Instructor is my first career. I started in college. I am also certified in nonprofit management so I spend a lot of time managing programs and writing grants.”

Something we’d be surprised to learn about Audrey? “When I am not dealing with EAAT or grant writing, I am very nerdy. I love books, movies and TV shows. I like to go to Dragon Con every year and hang out with people who love pop culture. Most people don't see that coming when they meet me!”

She says, “I have several favorite horses. It is hard to choose between the 34 year old quarter horse mare who gave her life to EAAT and a grumpy little pony. Since my pony story is a little more personal, I'll share that one. Baba is a paint pony who is allergic to everything! Because of this, the center had to make so many changes to his environment and feed. Even managing his conditions, he was grumpy! But he was more like the internet sensation Grumpy Cat; he looks a lot grumpier than he acts. He is a good pony and works diligently in classes. I had a special relationship with Baba. I would go to see him just rub on him. He loved that I would scratch the right places. He was one of my favorite to ride, because I was a nervous rider and had chronic pain of my own. I understood him and he understood me. It always made my day when I came in the barn and I would be the one he was happy to see. Because of my own issues and his reponse to those, I knew what he did with his riders. He understood and worked through his issues to help them with theirs.”

We asked Audrey to tell us about a favorite participant. “This is such a horrible question! It's hard to pick a favorite participant. But I can tell you my favorite story. One of the first riders I instructed was an 11 year old boy with cerebral palsy. I taught him on and off for about 7 years. In that time, he started moving around with a walker and improving his gait. He invited me to his high school graduation. I went and sat with his family and my fellow instructor. He came on stage in his electric wheel chair, but as they called his name, an assistant provided support and he walked across the stage for his diploma. I was in tears. Afterwards I asked him why he didn't tell me. He told me that he wanted to surprise me because I was one of the reasons he could walk across that stage.”

A life lesson she had to learn the hard way? “I deal with a chronic illness. As I have talked with other PATH Intl. members, I have seen that many instructors have special needs as well. I have experienced discrimination personally and I would love to become an advocate for instructors.”

“The biggest advice I can offer (fellow PATH Intl. Members} is to roll with the punches. We are trained to create a lesson plan and provide objective results. This is a great base but life will happen. Don't think you are a bad instructor. Being flexible is being a good instructor. Stay calm and go with the flow. Help each rider be their best even it means diverting from the lesson plan.”

Her wildest dream for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT?  “I want a world that knows EAAT and respects it as both an intervention and recreation. I would love for the world to see and understand. PATH Intl. is working toward these goals but it will take time and there will be bumps, but it will be better. One day, EAAT will be a household phrase and instructors will be respected for their unique skills and talents. When I wear my PATH Intl. logo I feel like part of a team. I feel professional and like someone who can be respected.”  You are a professional Audrey and we thank and respect you!

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Sheryl Mankel

Sheryl Mankel of Connected-Healing, LLC in Sand Lake Michigan first joined PATH Intl. in 1999 because she wanted to become certified, she’d been a center volunteer since 1977! Her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is helping facilitate the connection the horse provides in healing and learning.
Sheryl’s first and current career is bookkeeping, definitely a great skill to have in any field. But that’s not all; she’s also a Nationally Certified Animal Acupressure Practitioner!

Sheryl shared about her favorite horse, Brandy, whom she purchased at six years old, “She could do anything I asked...cattle, dressage, trail, and she was a top notch therapeutic riding horse for two major centers in Kent County, Michigan. She traveled to Wichita, KS with me and helped many children learn to ride. Upon returning to Michigan, she was my go to partner working with many veterans within the PTSD arena. She traveled many miles with my adventures!

Brandy was my 'everything' horse and it wasn't until she passed from colic in 2014 and I shared on Facebook, that I was aware of just how many lives this mare had touched, from her lesson clients, to instructors who had 'borrowed' her, to volunteers who were very sad to hear of her crossing over, she had over 200 hits! My daughters took it really hard, as put by my youngest, ‘This mare has always been in my life that I can remember. She came to us when I was 5 years old.’ She never moved a muscle in those days as we groomed her always aware of where we were; she was there as my parents went through a divorce; she was there when things were tough in high school; she was there when I left for the Marine Corp and when I came back from boot camp; she was there when college was tough and close relationships dissolved...this mare has been my ONE constant, I truly don't know what the future looks like without her."

We asked about a favorite participant and she gave an answer we are seeing in many of these profiles, “SO many!” She went on to tell the story of Amber. ”Amber is a friend who served our country with three tours of action for the US Marine Corp. She did not come to us originally for help, just as a friend wanting to help with the horses. We worked with her being comfortable and learning to read body language along with her controlling her emotions/body so the horses would react positively. She brought other friends out now and then. While working on a regular basis with the horses, her psychologist noticed a huge difference in Amber and another service member and asked to come see what we were doing. From that moment Dr. Kane and I worked together partnering with my horses and his clients. Amber continued to heal and lead a more normal life. She loves to ride, but it was difficult at first due to her TBI. We have worked on balance and helped with her back issues. It has been a VERY positive experience and one I will continue to foster.”

We asked Sharon to share with us a life lesson she had to learn the hard way and she said, “Be safe, but let things happen as natural as you can. The first clinic I attended with EFHMA taught me SO much.”

If she could have a wish fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT? “I feel PATH Intl. is headed in the right direction. I would love to have more 'skills' clinics. EAGALA gets together and practices often, I would love for PATH members to do the same.” When asked how she feels when she wears or displays her PATH Intl. logo she said she feels, “Certified!”

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Shannon Middleton

Congratulations to our 2nd member of the month for June, Shannon Middleton.

Some of you may recognize Shannon Middleton’s name as the chair of the PATH Intl. Membership Outreach Committee. Being an engaged association volunteer is reason enough for her to receive this recognition, but Shannon also brings her unique heart and expertise to the role. Shannon joined the staff at Ride on Center for Kids (ROCK), a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Georgetown, TX, as a speech language pathologist in 2006 after volunteering at ROCK for two years. She has an undergraduate degree in education with a specialty in speech therapy and a master’s degree in communication disorders. She has over 20 years’ experience including working with individuals with cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, language disorder/delay, articulation/phonological disorder, cognitive impairment, stroke and head injury.

Shannon first joined PATH Intl., then NARHA, in 2006. She had decided on a career shift and wanted to learn more about adding hippotherapy strategies to her speech therapy sessions. “My mentor and future boss, Nancy Krenek, sent me down the path of becoming a NARHA registered instructor first. With my limited horse experience at the time, it was perfect because I had to improve my riding skills first and learn a lot about horse behavior and safety.”

Shannon says her reason for loving the field of EAAT is that, “Everyone in this industry is passionate about what they do. Some of us came because we wanted to serve others and some of us came because of the horses, but everyone wholeheartedly believes in this industry.”

How did this SLP first learn about EAAT? “I worked at a hospital starting 1995-1998 that had a ‘hippotherapy program’ where I got hooked. It was not always true hippotherapy—we had others besides PTs, OTs and SLPs working with patients. And it definitely was not the safest program—we did backriding that was nowhere close to PATH Intl. Standards, and I was allowed in a pasture by myself with a patient on a horse with no training. But I realized there was a positive difference with the horse connection and in adding the horse’s movement to my sessions so that when my daughter was born 17 weeks early in 1997, I told my husband that once she was old enough we had to look into hippotherapy for her."

Most people probably don’t know that Shannon was a competitive baton twirler from ages 6 to 18 and twirled as a Golden Girl at Baylor University! Awesome!

She relays that her, “family’s favorite horse I think will always be Kashan. He was an Arabian that my daughter rode for about three years. He would test her during lessons and make her work for everything, but then at shows his show pony background would come out and he would rise to the occasion. She had a strong connection with him that touched our entire family.”

About a favorite participant? “It’s so hard to pick just one! Currently I have an adult participant who had a stroke about 10 years ago. I saw him as a patient for speech therapy in an outpatient clinic for a while and we made minimal progress. About a year later he showed up at the center I work at and joined my speech caseload there. He is a former rancher so he has a natural seat and riding experience. His sessions have taught me that when we keep the horse walking, his speech and word finding skills improve. He has also impressed me with the progress he has made even being 10 years post stroke. He also seems to always be positive, which always leaves me with a smile after the session.”

Shannon says a lesson she had to learn the hard way is, “Accept your mistakes, be humble and laugh at yourself! There’s nothing like teaching new instructors and therapists and having your own mistakes pointed out. I have definitely learned that when I make a mistake in front of others, like not doing a girth check, it is best to admit the mistake and thank them for keeping us safe. No one is perfect and we all need to help each other!”

She encourages others in the industry to, “Share your knowledge with others! Whether its research, mentoring, experience, new programs or new strategies, share with others both inside and outside of our industry.” Her dream for the future of EAAT? “To have our industry be financially secure so that we are able to work full time in the industry at a competitive salary and so that centers are fully funded to provide the best services to their participants and the best care to their equine partners.” And when she wears her PATH Intl. logo, she feels, “Like a curiosity and then proud. I love when people ask what PATH Intl. is and then say “Oh you do that? That’s so cool!” It’s even better when they then share a story about someone they know who has been helped by our industry or share a connection they’ve had with a horse!”

Thank you, Shannon, for bringing your energy and enthusiasm to PATH Intl.

Not a member yet? Join PATH Intl. today! Click here to see all the benefits a membership provides.

Member of the Month: Victoria Surr

Congratulations to our 1st member of the month for June, Victoria Surr.

If you’ve been to a PATH Intl. Conference and Annual Meeting, you’re probably already familiar with the warm smile and heart of Victoria Surr. If you haven’t met her, we hope you do because she is an instant friend. She and her charming father (who at conferences literally wore a nametag that said, “Dad” or sometimes “Victoria’s Dad!”) always had an exhibit at the conference representing the company Freedom Rider. Victoria founded Freedom Rider and was the president of the company for 20 years. She first joined PATH Intl. over 20 years ago when she had just started the company and she wanted to support (then) NARHA by becoming a PATH Intl. Life Member. It’s no surprise that when we asked what her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is, her answer was, “Coming to national conferences!”

About her first career she states, “I have had many. Very first was Veterinary Assistant. Just before starting Freedom Rider, I was a freelance typesetter.” She first learned about EAAT while doing some research. Something most people don’t know about Victoria? She sold the company a couple years ago and has started a new career path in photography. She says her favorite horse is, “UC Rianna GCH, a 35-years-young Morgan mare who is my soul mate.” Victoria says she’s known way too many amazing EAAT participants to tell us about just one.

We asked her to share with us a life lesson she had to learn the hard way and she said, “I had a trainer who was helping me with a Morgan gelding who was very 'squirrelly' about everything. He would bounce off every imagined shadow and sound in all different directions. I spent a lot of riding time looking at his shoulders and the ground, wondering which way he would go next, and if I was going to end up on that ground under him. My trainer would say, 'Look up, pick a spot in the distance, and go there! Never mind what is on the ground, or what he might do right now, just look up and GO!' As with most students, I had to hear that over and over before I actually got it, and my trainer shortened it to 'Look up and GO!' As all of us who ride know, it worked. Look up and GO has become my mantra. When life under my feet is full of unknowns and shadows, I pick that spot where I want to be, and 'Look up and GO!'"

She wanted to share, “We are a wonderful group of people! So much love and cooperation between us. I am proud to be a part of this group,” and she wishes there would be more recognition for the services provided by PATH Intl. Members, Instructors and Centers.

If you’re ever in the charming Oak Bluffs, MA and see a big smile wearing a camera, introduce yourself because it just might be PATH Intl. Life Member Victoria Surr!

Be sure to visit the Freedom Rider booth at the PATH Intl. Conference, November 8-10, 2019, in Denver. There's a good chance Victoria will be there!

Member of the Month: Boo Martin

Isabella (Boo) Martin retired early in 2018 after running PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center Touchstone Farm, home of Horse Power, in Temple, NH, for 47 years! She first joined PATH Intl. 32 years ago and her member number is 504! Initially Boo joined because she loved the people. She listed names that might be familiar to some—people like Marj Kittredge, Lyda McCowan, Pat Mullins, Bill Scebbi, Michael Kaufmann, Barbara Rector, Leslie McCullough, KC Henry, Molly Sweeney...the list goes on and on. “Mostly,” she says, “I wanted to be a part of what was happening in the profession of therapeutic riding...back then, we did not use the term therapeutic horsemanship because it was all riding. I was enthralled that there were other people out there who were doing the mental health part of horses. It was exciting to find fellow travelers!!! I have never left, nor have I ceased to be excited by the direction of PATH Intl.!”

Boo says, “My favorite thing of all is to find lifelong friends in the EAAT community. Together, we created a whole new ‘thing’ in this world. Seeing equine-facilitated psychotherapy and equine-assisted learning take off and be the fastest growing part of the EAAT community is such a thrill. Best of all, I have wonderful friends all over the country. As I retire from the day to day activities of a PATH Intl. Center, I have started a consulting business to help PATH Intl. Member Centers raise money and do the strategic planning necessary to grow and thrive. I love this field and its benefits to both people and horses and want to see the profession flourish!”

When asked for a piece of advice she’d like to share with fellow PATH Intl. Members, she said, “This field is an amazing one. There are few organizations that work so hard to help their members succeed. The spirit of collaboration runs throughout the entire PATH Intl. family. Everyone is eager to share their best strategies, lessons learned and important secrets to success. Everyone believes that together we are stronger! I strongly advise everyone to become a PATH Intl. member and center. The precautions and contraindications in the PATH Intl. standards manual, as well as the accreditation process, are a total roadmap to success. Having both of these valuable bodies of knowledge greatly helps to run a successful, safe and professional operation that truly changes lives.”

We asked Boo about her first career and she said, “I have always worked at the same farm. My college training was to be a teacher in a school. I moved all those skills to teaching in the ring and in the barn. My master’s degree is in nonprofit management and organizational development. I certainly used both my college and graduate degrees to run Horse Power and now my consulting business.” She first learned about EAAT from Marj Kittredge who tapped her on the shoulder at a horse show in MA and said, "You need to do therapeutic riding!” Marj invited Boo to visit her program, Windrush. She said, “I went that next week. I cried the whole day long and right then and there, committed myself and my farm to doing therapeutic horsemanship!”

Boo’s two favorite horses are her driving pair of black Welsh Cobs. “We have traveled thousands of miles together. They are not only wonderful driving ponies but they also work in our therapeutic riding program, our summer camp and our able-bodied lesson program. They swim in the pond, jump over courses and go on trail rides. They are truly treasures. It is an honor and a treat to have owned them and had them be such great partners.”

When asked about a favorite participant? “Ohhhh, where do I start!!!??? I guess if I really have to pick one it would be a woman named Annie. She came to Horse Power about 25 years ago with serious mental health issues. She fell in love with horses and riding. Not only did she begin to triumph over her difficult past, she began to create a new and healthy future for herself. She went on to demonstrate at the national NARHA conference that was held in Boston, MA. She performed a beautiful jumping demo. She then went on to apply for and get accepted to our Horse Power Instructor Training School. She graduated with flying colors and got her registered level certification with what was then NARHA. She taught at Horse Power for a while and then went on to college to get her degree in special education. She is now working as a teacher in the public school near the farm. She is happily married and has a beautiful daughter who is about 13. The daughter not only comes to our summer camp, but also rides and shows year around at the farm. She is one of our best riders! She is a 'barn rat' and a real team leader. This second generation family is certainly one that I am very, very proud of and love dearly!”

Boo says, “There are so many life lessons to be learned along the way. Probably the most important one is that anything can be accomplished with a team of people. Collaboration, connection and teamwork triumph over any problem or dilemma! The farm has always had an amazing team approach. Working together, we overcame severe weather, horse or people illness and death, lack of funding and other such problems. Armed with our team, we succeeded for 47 years!”

If Boo could have her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT she said, “I dream that EAAT is widely accepted as a primary therapeutic treatment by the medical and psychology professions. I dream that all people, regardless of their age or ability, can experience the joy, healing and connection with a horse. I dream that insurance reimburses these services so that centers can thrive financially without having to focus so much on fundraising or scarcity of money!!!”

The thing most people don't know about Boo is her love of travel. “The reason most people don't know this is that for 47 years, I worked at Pony Farm and Horse Power almost exclusively. It was an 80 hour a week commitment, a lifelong passion. It is exciting to now be able to consult with programs all over the country and also combine seeing new places. This is such a beautiful country and I want to see every state. My secret hope is to go to all the national parks!”

And lastly she said, “When I wear my PATH Intl. logo, I feel PROUD AND INSPIRED!!!” Thank you, Boo, for the generations you have inspired, for your smile, passion and kindness of spirit, and for being a shining example of how being a member of PATH Intl. should feel!

Member of the Month: Christy Schmitt

Today we introduce you to the first of two PATH Intl. members of the month for May, Christy Schmitt.

Christy is part of the fantastic team at Agape Therapeutic Riding Resources, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Cicero, Indiana. We asked Christy when and why she joined PATH Intl., and she said, “I joined PATH Intl. in 2016. I had been a stay-at-home mom of six kids since I was 19. I did not have any education past high school, and when I got a divorce in 2014 I was just working odd jobs to try to make ends meet. Agape hired me as a stable assistant, and due to their investment of time and resources in my life as well as their belief in me, I started my journey to becoming an instructor. I am now a site manager at one of our locations and feel blessed to be able to serve others in this industry as well as provide a good living for myself and my kids.” Christy says her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is, “I was raised to have a servant's heart, and so being able to serve others, and help them see their ability to grow provides me with great satisfaction.”

Listing her first career as motherhood, a very noble profession, she first learned about EAAT through her time with Agape. What’s something most people don’t know about her? “Eagles and American flags make me smile and pause every time I see them.” We asked her to tell us about a favorite horse and a favorite participant. “My third horse, at age 11, taught me how to ride. He challenged me at every step and kept me on my toes in a new way with each ride. My will to one day work with horses full time, and my love for horses grew due to his strong will. My favorite participant challenges me to see life through eyes of appreciation and excitement. She isn't afraid to squeal when she is excited, admit when she's wrong, or ask a question when she doesn't know what to do. Her incredible determination to continue riding reminds me not to be ‘weary in well doing.’"

PATH Intl. asked Christy to share a life lesson she had to learn the hard way and she said, "’Fake it ‘til you make it,’” is a phrase I have heard whether verbalized or not my whole life. So, asking questions, or admitting I don't know the answer to questions asked of me, has been a humbling experience on more than one occasion. Horses don't allow us to be dishonest when we are working with them because they always do exactly what we ask.” A piece of advice she’d like to share with her fellow PATH Intl. Members? “I think this work is emotionally draining, and consistently challenging. I have started to realize that when I am pulling away from the people we serve by spending more time in my office or the barn; those are the times when I need to go sit with the families and participants. They, without fail, renew my passion and remind me of the ‘why’ behind what we do.”

If she could have her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT, what might that be? “I would love to help young people understand how achievable this dream and fulfilling this dream is, and see the number of certified instructors outweigh the need for them.” Christy says when she wears her PATH Intl. logo, she feels “...filled with pride. A mother of six, with no former education, and very little pride or self-worth left, became a woman who is proud to tell others about my profession. Not because of what I have done, or where I am, but because of the divine direction of God in leading me to a place that I can glorify Him by serving others in such a unique and powerful way.”

Thank you for the inspiration, Christy, and all the good work you do to help make this world a better place!

Member of the Month: Cynthia Linsenbardt

The PATH Intl. Member of the Month for April is Cynthia Linsenbardt a PATH Intl. Certified Instructor from Bloomington, IN, who lends her expertise and passion to the fine folks at People and Animal Learning Services, Inc. a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center also in Bloomington.

Cynthia first joined PATH Intl. in 2011 to pursue instructor certification after a few years of volunteering at different EAAT facilities. She says her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is that, “We are all on the same team - everyone is about helping the riders and caring for the horses, instead of competing and making money off of them.” She first learned about EAAT as a child in 4-H and went on to start her career in outdoor education. But when we asked her to tell us something about herself that most people wouldn’t know, she said, “I lied, my first career was making miniature saddles for model horses in high school!”
Her current horse Zella, is a favorite, “a Rocky Mountain Horse who was gracious enough to let me train her and had such a gentle calm spirit. She has taught me so much about riding correctly.” She recalls a favorite participant, “A young lady with little strength below the waist and delayed reactions, yet who is so brave to depend on her horse and volunteers to keep her safe, who is constantly smiling and joking and having fun. Through the right team of horse and people we were able to progress her so far in balance and confidence.”

A life lesson she had to learn the hard way? “That setbacks make you stronger. When I didn't pass the PATH Intl. Certification riding test the first time, I went and took lessons from a variety of people and ended up becoming a much better rider than I would have had I passed the first time, and for that I am very grateful! Whatever setbacks you face, if you are humble and accept them and make the best of them, they will make you stronger, better and wiser in the end!”
Cynthia says her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT might be, “That being a PATH Intl. Certified Instructor would be a viable professional career with a respectable salary, so instructors would not feel the need to go further into directing or programming to make a living, so they can continue doing what they do best-- teach!”

When she wears her PATH Intl. logo, she reported feeling, “A part of something good, that helps and values people of all abilities.” You are valued too, Cynthia! We’re so happy to be part of that something good WITH you!

Member of the Month: Landa Keirstead

The first PATH Intl. member of the month is Landa Keirstead from California! Landa is the founder and program director of One Step Closer Therapeutic Riding Inc., a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Morgan Hill, California. Landa is a PATH Intl. Certified Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Mentor who left the medical field after 30 years to become an instructor in 2006 because she wanted to become a PATH Intl. Instructor and she "loved this organization!"

Landa shared that her favorite thing about belonging to the EAAT community is helping others. Her first career? A registered dental assistant who learned about EAAT from a friend. When asked to tell us something about herself that most people don't know, she said, "I am a twin!" Her favorite EAAT horse was Reba who was the center's first therapeutic riding horse and had been rescued from auction as a pregnant mare. She recalls the center's first participant Gabe as a favorite participant. "Gabe has Down syndrome, a love for the horses and a great sense of humor."

PATH Intl. asked her to share a life lesson she had to learn the hard way and Landa replied, "My life lesson involved a moment when my attention and focus were not there and subsequently I was injured by one of my favorite horses." This is a situation many of us can relate to. When asked for a piece of advice she'd like to share with fellow PATH Intl. members, Landa answered, "Our passion for helping people with horses is a special gift. It isn't easy sometimes but it means so much to individuals who may not have other opportunities." If she could have her wildest dream fulfilled it would be to have a covered arena they could use year round so they wouldn't have to cancel lessons due to weather, etc. We asked her to complete the following sentence: When I wear my PATH Intl. logo (or otherwise display my affiliation), I feel: "Very proud to be part of one of the best EAAT organizations helping people today."

PATH Intl. is proud to have you as a member, Landa. Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place. Congratulations!

Member of the Month: Maggee Harrison

Our featured member is Maggee Harrison from Montana! Maggee is the therapeutic horsemanship program director at PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center Eagle Mount in beautiful Bozeman. Maggee is a PATH Intl. Certified Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. She first joined in 2003 because she was already a volunteer and wanted to be active in the EAAT community. Her favorite thing about our community she states is networking with fellow professionals to benefit the people we serve.

Can anyone guess Maggee's first career? It was large animal reproduction and physiology and she actually first learned about EAAT at the animal science meetings in North Carolina in 1981. When asked to tell us something about herself that most people don't know, she said, "I grew up in Woodstock, Connecticut. I am an open book - so there is very little I am unwilling to share!"

One of her favorite EAAT horses was her Irish Hunter, Golly Gee. "He was a forward moving cross country beast but the best 'babysitter' and protector a rider could ever have!" When reflecting on her participants she relayed that "Every one of them brings such special gifts to my life. If I had to choose one special rider in this moment I would have to say Heidi. She is challenged by seizures and was just diagnosed with terminal cancer. She is gifted with a natural seat and an amazing love of life despite her disability. There is no one I know who can take a helmet off and gracefully dismount in a blink of an eye like Heidi! She keeps us on our toes and we love her!"

PATH Intl. asked Maggee to share a life lesson she had to learn the hard way. She replied, "Never judge a book by its cover!" And a piece of advice she'd like to share with fellow PATH Intl. members is, "Get involved - let your voice be heard - and commit to making our association work for our members." Her wildest dream fulfilled for the next 50 years of PATH Intl. and EAAT would be, "That we continue to reach out to our members to get volunteers at their centers signed up - there is room in the tent for a lot more people. We need their input and support to make sure our industry continues to provide the people we serve with the very best service EAAT professionals can offer."

We asked her to complete the following sentence: When I wear my PATH Intl. logo (or otherwise display my affiliation), I feel: "Proud." Well Maggee, PATH Intl. is proud to have you as a member! Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place! Congratulations!

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!

PATH Intl. Celebrates 50 Years!

Obviously, 50 years ago life on planet Earth looked quite different for its inhabitants. In 1969 the average cost of a new house in the U.S. was $15,550; average income per year $8,550; rent $135 per month; and a new car might cost a consumer $3,270. While the world economy has changed exponentially, so many familiar constants remain. On January 1, 1969, the Ohio State Buckeyes football team beat the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl to win the national championship. Fifty years later, as people celebrated the promise of a new year and took stock of their blessings, Ohio State played in the same game against the Washington Huskies (and won). Good books are still authored. (In 1969 Mario Puzzo’s novel The Godfather hit the shelves.) And entertainment continues to fuel our imaginations and keep us laughing at the brighter side of life. (“Monty Python’s Flying Circus” first aired on BBC One in 1969.) 

As we kick off 2019, terms like artificial intelligence and virtual reality are commonly used parts of our vernacular, and we see technology evolving faster than we can think. Thankfully, certain consistencies continue to keep us humans grounded to the planet, such as an appreciation for nature, love of animals and striving for a healthy lifestyle. These inspirations, plus hope and having loving, open-hearted humans around us, are the types of ideas that continue to fuel our spirits. Equines happen to check all those boxes. They’ve been serving humanity as a companion and as a colleague for those in the workforce for centuries. This amazing, seemingly deep-souled, unpredictable, beautiful creature is also at the heart of the staying power of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). They didn’t, however, do it alone.

When the founders of PATH Intl. (then NARHA) first gathered to discuss formalizing an organization, the distant future must have felt so, well, distant. Through both the lean and prosperous years, and everything inbetween, one industry invariable in addition to the horses remains, and that’s the PATH Intl. members—a smart, savvy, multi-talented, resourceful, dedicated, innovative community of some of the finest humans the planet has to offer. They continue to cultivate their skills, meet the changing needs of society and strive for optimal quality of life for their participants and equines alike. And it is these extraordinary members with hearts bigger than the expanse of time whom the association will honor and celebrate in its 50th year.

To commemorate its golden anniversary, PATH Intl., its members and stakeholders will join together in a year-long 50th anniversary celebration that begins now and will carry through to the 2019 PATH Intl. Conference to be held in the city of the association’s headquarters—Denver, Colorado—from November 8-10, at The Westin Westminster. PATH Intl. will be focusing its celebration around four cornerstones—evolution, individual members, center members and new initiatives. These themes will be highlighted throughout 2019 as the foundation for that which has made PATH Intl. what it is today, and sets the course for continuing its vision of being a global authority, resource and advocate for equine-assisted activities and therapies and the equines in the work that inspire and enrich the human spirit. Let’s celebrate!

Members of the Month

Sheryl Mankel (July 2)
Shannon Middleton
(June 18)
Victoria Surr
(June 4)
Boo Martin
(May 21)
Christy Schmitt
(May 7)
Cynthia Linsenbardt
Sue Adams
(March 19)
Chelsea Packard (March 5)
Maggee Harrison (February 19)
Landa Keirstead (February 5)

Center Toolkit

Press Release

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Unique 50th Anniversary Sponsorship Opportunities

Join the celebration! Individuals and organizations are invited to contribute to the fun year ahead by sponsoring an array of activities. Click here to explore some ideas ranging from the simple to the grand.


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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!

Welcome to the PATH Intl. Volunteer Page

volunteers neededListed below you’ll find relevant volunteer information and current committees, task forces and volunteer opportunities. Please keep in mind that terms run from January to December. Upcoming vacancy announcements and volunteer recruitment will begin in the fall of each year.

If you are interested in volunteering please fill out the volunteer application and email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Here at PATH Intl. we value our volunteers, and we thank you for considering or continuing to serve PATH Intl. with your time and expertise.

volunteer opportunities

To read about the committees, subcommittees and task forces listed below, click on the name for its charter.

Oversight Committees

Certification Oversight Committee
Programs and Standards Oversight Committee
Membership Outreach Committee (includes the attachments below)

MOC Appendix 1
MOC Appendix 4
MOC Appendix 5
MOC Resource 5

Includes the positions of:

Region Representative
State Chairs MOC Resource 6
Region Treasurer
Region Communication Chair

Program Committees

PATH International Equine Services for Heroes® Committee
Equine Welfare Committee
Grievance Review Panel Committee
Health & Education Advisory


Accreditation Subcommittee
Equine Specialists in Mental Health and Learning Subcommittee
Interactive Vaulting Certification Subcommittee
Riding Certification Subcommittee
Therapeutic Driving Certification Subcommittee

Task Forces

International Conference Host Task Force
Regional Conference Task Force
Standards Review Task Force
Quality Assurance Task Force


Conference Host Committee 
Credentialing Council -- If interested in volunteering for the credentialing council please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Looking For More Information?

Click here for the PATH Intl. Volunteer Handbook, which can answer many questions.

Also feel free to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., the PATH Intl. Members Program Coordinator, with any questions comments or concerns.


PATH Intl. Credentialing Council

November 30, 2019 - Update to the 120 Hour Requirement for Instructors Supervising PATH Intl. CTRI Applicants

September 1, 2019 - Application Paperwork and Instructions for PATH Intl. CTRI Certification

June 26, 2019 - 120 hours

April 1, 2019 - PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor Application, Instructions and Criteria for Piloting

March 8, 2019 -  Clarification of CEU requirements for existing PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructors transitioning to the PATH Intl. CTRI Credential

December 27, 2018 - Riding Instruction and Communication Skills Video

November 16, 2018 - CTRI Transition Process and FAQs

November 2, 2018 - PICC Summary of Orlando meeting

October 19, 2018 - PICC Update and Process

August 2018 

January 2018:

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 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

Questions? Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

logo givesdayOn Tuesday, December 5, 2017, PATH Intl. is participating in Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving.

How do your Colorado Gives funds benefit PATH Intl.?

Center Sustainability

According to recent data gathered by PATH Intl., the number of PATH Intl. centers that aren’t renewing their membership because they are closing is growing. From 2014-2015, the number grew from 3 to 4 percent. At 880 centers, that number is not insignificant, and frankly any number is too high.

Centers are born of people with big hearts and a big passion to want to make a difference in the lives of people and horses. We get that, because we do too! We at PATH Intl. want to give centers the tools to take their passion and their business further, to become sustainable. According to the data, reasons for closing are lack of funding, lack of qualified staff, and lack of board development and strategic planning. Through webinars on board development and succession planning to conference sessions and workshops on how to survive and thrive, PATH Intl. will give centers the tools to not only have big heart but have big success as well.

Disaster Relief

The PATH Intl. Disaster Relief Fund assists PATH Intl. Member Centers in good standing with an immediate need in meeting expenses not normally covered by operating insurance after natural or manmade catastrophic disasters. These include hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, floods, fire and drought. As noted above, we have been able to help so many rebuild, clean up and get a new start. But the after-effects of hurricanes Harvey and Maria go on, as does the clean-up from flooding, and the ravages from wild fires have been extensive.

The PATH Intl. Disaster Relief Fund is seriously depleted because of the good we've been able to accomplish from the funds donated by people like you. Your gift now will help your fellow centers rebuild what was lost.

Visit the PATH Intl. donation page. Or donate through the Colorado Gives Day site for PATH Intl.

Thank you once again for your generosity!

The PATH Intl. Advisory Council is made up of individuals who have experience or expertise that has been identified by the executive committee as needed for the successful operation of PATH Intl. and/or name recognition within the equine-assisted activities and therapies Industry or the general public.

Advisory Council

Andrea Beetz, Psychologist (MA), PhD
Jerry Black, DVM, Director, Equine Sciences Colorado State University
Shannon S. Carter, EdD, CAE
Lynn Coakley, President, EQUUS Foundation, Inc.
David L. Foley, Executive Director, American Association of Equine Practitioners
Holly Schmitt Fox, DVM
Hope Carolyn Hand, Para-equestrian
Craig Huffhines, Executive Vice President, American Quarter Horse Association
Allyn Mann, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Luitpold Animal Health
Larry Pence, CSM (Ret.), U.S. Army


Newsletter: Accrediting the PATH Intl. CTRI Certification

(for PATH Intl. Credentialing Council Updates, click here)

November 23, 2019 - PICC Election 2019

October 28, 2019 - Tutorial: Transitioning to the CTRI Credential

October 11, 2019 - Nominations Reminder

September 30, 2019 - Applications Now Being Accepted for the PATH Intl. CTRI Certification

September 20, 2019 - CTRI Certification Exam Administration Windows for 2020

August 31, 2019 - Update

August 23, 2019 - Nomination Deadline Extended

August 7, 2019 - Nominations

July 30, 2019 - Nominations 

July 11, 2019 - How Do I Choose?

July 5, 2019 - Nominations Open for PICC

June 22, 2019 - PATH Intl. CTRI Certification Launch Delayed for Refining Based on Pilot Outcomes & CTRI Applicant Costs Released

April 24, 2019 - PATH Intl. CTRI Credential Transition Process Pilot is Open

April 5, 2019 - PATH Intl. CTRI Application Paperwork Pilot Is Open

March 21, 2019 - Pilot Update 

March 1, 2019 - Pilot Update

February 4, 2019 - It's Pilot Season

December 7, 2018 - Addressing Members' Questions: Riding Knowledge

November 16, 2018 - FAQs: The Transition of Currently Certified PATH Intl. Professionals and Instructor Candidates to the New PATH Intl. CTRI Credential

October 19, 2018 - FAQs: Implementation of the PATH Intl. CTRI

September 17, 2018 -- PICC Election Results

July 31, 2018 - PICC Nominations

July 13, 2018 - PICC Nominations Timeline Extended

June 26, 2018 - Nominations Open Reminder

June 6, 2018 - 2nd Annual PATH Intl. Credentialing Council Nominations Open as Election Approaches

January 19, 2018 - PICC Tasks and Accomplishments

December 28, 2017 - Initial Meeting of the PICC at the PATH Intl. Conference Summary

October 26, 2017 - The Job Task Analysis

September 9, 2017 - Announcing the PATH Intl. Credentialing Council Representatives

August 21, 2017 - Ballot and Opening of the Election for the Inaugural Credentialing Council

August 18, 2017 - PATH Intl. Credentialing Council (PICC) Nominations are Being Finalized--Vote Next Week

July 28, 2017 - PATH Intl. Credentialing Council (PICC) Nominations Open - Watch the Instructional Webinar

July 17, 2017 - PATH Intl. Credentialing Council (PICC) Nominations Open

July 7, 2017 - PATH Intl. Credentialing Council (PICC) Nominations Open

June 30, 2017 - PATH Intl. Credentialing Council (PICC) Eligibility and Nomination Process

PICC Job Descriptions    PICC Candidate Nomination Form    PICC Consent to Serve

May 18, 2017 - Laying the Foundation for the Credentialing Council

Credentialing Council Charter

January 9, 2017 - PATH Intl. Credentialing Council Development Workgroup tasks and deliverables

December 19, 2016 - The Credentialing Council Development Workgroup

November 22, 2016 - The bylaws were passed, what's next?

October 13, 2016 - With the addition of a credentialing council, will members have input into the certification tests?

October 7, 2016 - Recorded webinar about the upcoming bylaws vote available 24/7

September 13, 2016

Why Bylaws Change Votes Happen at the Annual Meeting
Credentialing Council Bylaw Addition

September 2, 2016

Credentialing Council Development Workgroup Sign up Form 2016
Credentialing Council Charter

August 2016

Accrediting the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification Q & A

From feedback we’ve received based on current communications, we have put together a list of recent member questions. When one person asks that usually means more are also wondering, so we are making this list available to all! Have questions of your own? Please use this feedback link and thank you!

Job Task Analysis: The trek continues...

Trek to Accreditation of the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification

As most of you know by now, one of the major initiatives in the PATH Intl. strategic plan is to achieve independent, third party accreditation of the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification in order to provide validation that our certification meets recognized credentialing standards. For a refresher on this this objective, read the Winter 2016 PATH Intl. Strides article on page 42. As mentioned in that article, one of the first major initiatives was to conduct a job task analysis (JTA) in order to verify the knowledge, skills and abilities a newly certified PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor should possess.
A group of subject matter experts, with guidance from the accreditation contractor and input from more than 1,000 PATH Intl. Certified Professionals, has completed their work. The final report is under review by staff at this point, but we wanted to share some interesting information with you, along with some of the details of the process.

The subject matter experts were carefully selected to statistically represent the diversity of PATH Intl. Certified Professionals. They are geographically diverse; and include different ages, genders and levels of experience (including Registered, Advanced and Master levels). Their first task was to learn what a legally defensible, and psychometrically sound, JTA is. After that, they worked together to define the basic skill set for an entry-level therapeutic riding instructor.  

A survey based on the knowledge, skills and abilities identified was then compiled and distributed to every certified professional member of PATH Intl. for input on the frequency with which an entry-level instructor is expected to perform certain tasks on the job. A big thank you to all the people who answered the survey! The contractor was amazed by the response rate.
Our members’ passion for this work came through not only in the response rate of the survey, but also in the many comments provided. There was careful review of the 1,500 comments to ensure no feedback was overlooked. The survey results were analyzed by a psychometrician to ensure the statistical validity of the responses and the absence of unintended biases.

The survey yielded interesting results. For example, the data revealed that nearly 30% of certified therapeutic riding instructor survey respondents do not ride equines as part of their job. Survey participants deemed that additional hours teaching individuals with disabilities should be required prior to certification and also assigned equal weights to the primary job task domains: equine handling, participant and volunteer management, lesson management, and risk management.

There is still much work to do. The final report will continue to be reviewed in preparation for the next phase: test development. This phase will decide the appropriate prerequisites and format for the future certification test.

Watch for future updates about the formation of a member workgroup that will help inform these decisions and give input to the formation of the credentialing body that will be the part of PATH Intl. that independently focuses on serving the public. 

PATH Intl. Undergoes Its Own Accreditation


Questions? Please use the feedback form or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

giving tuesdayWe have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving backDonate Now

On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

Remember to share on social media why you donated and use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #PATHIntl and thank you!

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

How do your #GivingTuesday funds benefit PATH Intl.?

Help us to demolish the waiting lists at PATH Intl. Member Centers!

Whether it’s at the airport, in traffic or in line to see Santa Claus, no one likes to wait. As Veruca said in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “I want it now!”

At PATH Intl., we know how difficult it is for those with special needs to have to wait for something they know could help them, something that brings them happiness as well as improved health. Yet, for many, being on a waiting list to receive equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) from a PATH Intl. Member Center is a reality.

According to the most recent PATH Intl. statistics, more than 6,100 individuals are on waiting lists at 342 PATH Intl. Member Centers. That’s 6,100 individuals waiting to receive the physical benefits therapeutic horsemanship provides, such as improved balance, breathing and circulation, and increased muscle strength, and the emotional/social benefits such as better social skills, improved self-esteem and reduced depression and anxiety.

PATH Intl. is the credentialing organization for the accredited centers that provide EAAT programing and for the certified professionals who work directly with the participants and their families. Through onsite workshops, instructors gain the skills and knowledge necessary to teach to a wide range of special needs. (Read more about PATH Intl. Certifications.) Key to the credentialing process is the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation manual, which details voluntary standards for the EAAT industry, necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including our equine partners.

PATH Intl. has nearly 5,000 certified instructors. It is clear, however, that more instructors are needed in order to reduce—or eliminate—the waiting lists at PATH Intl. Member Centers. Your gift to PATH Intl. can help certify more instructors or be used toward scholarships for them to attend continuing education sessions at PATH Intl. Conferences. As one recent conference attendee said on her evaluation form for “The Art of Teaching” session, "These types of sessions are what help me think out of the box. Anything you can offer to support our being better instructors is appreciated."

Please consider a #GivingTuesday gift to PATH Intl., and help someone get off the waiting list. Visit the PATH Intl. donation page.

EAAT Participant Fund (formerly Riders Assistance Fund)

To assist a participant who would not otherwise financially be able to participate in a therapeutic riding program at a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center without financial assistance. Awards will be for up to $1,000 or up to four sessions per year per participant. Applications are made available early in the year. The deadline is announced at that time. Click here for information.

Disaster Relief

To assist Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) centers (with an immediate need) in funding expenses not normally covered by operating insurance after natural or man made catastrophic disasters. Click here for information.

PATH Intl. Strategic Plan Updates

December 2014

When the current PATH Intl. strategic plan was rolled out in the fall of 2014, the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees and Staff became energized to begin implementing the plan that was created from association member, stakeholder, board and staff feedback. As a result, the staff and volunteers rolled up their sleeves and dived right in to accomplish the goals set forth. A year into the three-to-five year plan, the association is pleased to communicate that many tasks have been completed and even more are well in the works.

One important update we’d like to highlight is the language used for the goals and objectives was revisited by the board and staff and modified slightly to include clearer, measurable purpose for each. There was no change to any of the original intent; however, the improved content is more concise and better defined. To view the new language, download the updated Strategic Plan.

Following is a report on some of the higher priority initiatives.

Goal 1--We are recognized by the EAAT industry, health and wellness community and the public for our excellent and rigorous credentialing in order to enhance the professional credibility of individuals and centers.

In order to move the association forward in its goal of becoming an accredited provider of certification programs, PATH Intl. became a member of the Institute of Credentialing Excellence. The next step was to have an independent analysis performed to assess PATH Intl. compliance with National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) standards. The NCCA, through its standards, helps to ensure the health, welfare and safety of the public through the accreditation of a variety of individual certification programs that assess professional competency in industries such as healthcare, financial services and education.  

Changes are being outlined that will need to be made to achieve compliance with this program. These changes will be rolled out to the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees and program committees in late 2015.

Continuing Education and Knowledge Management
Goal 2--In order to promote professionalism and support sustainability of EAAT, PATH Intl. connects members to resources, information and networks.

In order to be compliant with the certification accreditation requirements mentioned above, PATH Intl. is looking at how to meet the requirement of separating education and certification testing while still retaining the ability to provide education. To that end, we are continuing to develop and make available education offerings including updating materials and expanding online education offerings.

This past year the webinar delivery platform was upgraded. It offers an enhanced user experience and broader capabilities for the types of webinars that can be offered. Education sessions were video-recorded at the 2014 PATH Intl. Conference and will be edited and made available to members in a webinar format. Additionally, the learning management system Course Webs was upgraded with the hope that the association will be able to make a variety of continuing education more readily available. 

Online curriculum for instructors working with veterans will be developed, made possible by the Department of Veterans Affairs grant.

PATH Intl. continues to have conversations with higher education institutions and other organizations that are preparing our next generation of certified professionals in order to better support them.

Quality Assurance
Goal 3 – Our quality assurance program enables instructors and centers to deliver safe, superior services and programs.

As a first step, A Quality Assurance Task Force was formed. A call for volunteers went out and more than 40 people responded. Ten members were chosen, and they have spent the last year working very hard to look at how to institute association-wide quality assurance. Their final report has been approved by the board and progress will continue to be reported on a regular basis. Look for the roll out of an improved grievance filing process first.

Capacity Building
Goal 4 – Our organizational systems and people power enable us to meet our strategic goals.

The association has reviewed the make-up and size of the board of trustees and the committee structure is continually reviewed.

The region systems restructure efforts to create leadership teams that support the region rep, focus on outreach, some sort of explanation, which really started in earnest with the July 1 fiscal year, are well underway. The support from the PATH Intl. Membership Oversight Committee Region Representatives in making these transitions happen is greatly appreciated.

A detailed technology assessment of internal needs, as well as an external technology scan of better, faster and more efficient solutions to better serve our members is underway.

Community Engagement and Partnerships
Goal 5 – Build strategic relationships and communication efforts that support partnerships, alliances and brand awareness

The association is exploring how to have a greater presence in the area of higher education, working in conjunction with existing higher education members.

Alignment with groups such as the American Hippotherapy Association, American Quarter Horse Foundation, Certified Horsemanship Association, Horses and Humans Research Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, American Horse Council, Horses in Education and Therapy International, and Colorado State University, to name a few, continues to be fostered.

New ways are being explored to engage the research community for focused progress in the EAAT industry.

A detailed, independent web audit resulted in an improved website, easier navigation and enhanced search engine optimization, which helps make PATH Intl. the easiest to find in a variety of web searches. This translates into centers and all information being found more easily by the public.

Focus on exposure and education to national health and wellness organizations continues thanks to the PATH Intl. Medical Outreach Advisory. This year, through exhibiting, many members presenting and EAAT professionals serving on committees, the association had a large, well-received presence at the 122nd American Psychological Association Convention that had an attendance of over 12,000 attendees.

It is challenging to measure success in a strategic plan, especially when our strategic direction is to be recognized as the premier credentialing organization for EAAT. How do you measure “recognized as”? One measurement is to note the number of requests from other national organizations that want to partner with or approach PATH Intl. because they have identified the importance of our standards. Three such recent examples include:

The Department of Veterans Affairs asked us to submit a grant request for their revised Adaptive Sports program.

The New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities asked for the PATH Intl. definition of therapeutic riding and specifically “What kind of planning, documentation and reporting is the instructor expected/required to provide to the individual/family?” They used this information to update their state Medicaid, self-directed care plans.

The association most recently got a request for a proposal to better serve individuals with special needs in the state of Massachusetts, which requires licensing for all riding instructors and riding stables – but has no differentiation between those with and without special needs.

It is this type of activity that will continue to be measured.  And most importantly, these types of opportunities will continue to support the initiatives found in the strategic plan.

Watch for updates along the way as the association moves forward with its plans. Thank you to all members and stakeholders who contributed to the creation of the plan and to those who serve through membership and volunteering to see the plan brought to fruition.

Click on the table to get more information about our world-wide visitors! (Added June 7, 2011)

free counters

Equine-assisted therapy may help autism, PTSD and pain. Why isn't it used more?

Mark Lieber, CNN
June 18, 2018

Click here for the story.

Something About a Horse: Finding Benefits in Therapeutic Riding

Marina Sarris
Interactive Autism Network at Kennedy Krieger Institute
May 25, 2016

American frontier tales promote the magical connection between a man and his trusty steed. A rider communicates with his horse through words and movements, forming a bond in which each "reads" the other. Horse enthusiasts have said these bonds help people with autism, a disorder affecting social and communication skills, but they didn't have much rigorous research to back them up – until now. Click here to read the story.

PATH Intl. Center Featured in Family Circle

Unbridled Spirit
By Eleanor Gilman
Harnessing her love of horses, Dana Spett created a therapeutic riding school for children and adults with disabilities. Download the story here.

May 2013 - First American Paint Horse Association Therapeutic Riding Scholarship Winners Announced

Through an innovative partnership between the American Paint Horse Foundation and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), scholarship assistance is provided to potential instructors of therapeutic riding. Selected from a competitive field, Cindy Salyer of Reno, Nevada, and Kathy Hiberd of Burleson, Texas, have been named the first-ever winners of these unique scholarships.Both women receive $800 scholarships toward completing PATH Intl. certification. Read the full story.


The PATH Intl. Code of Ethics sets forth ethical principles for all PATH Intl. members which includes individuals and centers and is binding on all staff. Centers are obligated to ensure that all staff, professionals and volunteers comply with this code. While each of the following codes will apply to all members, the applicability of each code may be determined by the role of the member and the setting.

The practice and preservation of the highest standards of ethical principles and integrity are vital for the responsible implementation of obligations, activities and services provided by PATH Intl. members and centers. All members and centers are responsible for maintaining and promoting these ethical practices. The PATH Intl. Code of Ethics is intended to be used as a guide for promoting and maintaining the highest standards of ethical practice, personal behavior and professional integrity.

The guidelines expressed in the code are not to be considered all-inclusive of situations that could evolve under a specific principle, nor is the failure to specify any particular responsibility or practice a denial of the existence of such responsibilities or practices. The guidelines are specific statements of minimally acceptable conduct or of prohibitions applicable to all members and centers. The PATH Intl. Code of Ethics is designed to be appended to such other codes as may be applicable (such as: medicine, psychology, nursing, social work, etc.).

In recognition of the responsibility inherent in the delivery of services provided by equine-assisted activities and therapies, PATH Intl. asks all members and center personnel to subscribe to the following to the extent permitted by law:

Principle 1

The member respects the rights, dignity and well-being of all individuals (human and equine) and promotes well-being for all involved.

1.1 The member shall promote a holistic awareness of body, mind and spirit in equine-assisted activities and therapies for all involved.

1.2 The member shall be responsive to, and mutually supportive of, the individuals served, including families, colleagues and associates.

1.3 The member shall respect the unique nature of each individual and shall be tolerant of, and responsive to, differences. The member shall not discriminate based on age, gender, race, nationality, religion, ethnicity, social or economic status, sexual orientation, health condition or disability.

1.4 The member shall follow equal employment opportunity practices in hiring, assigning, promoting, discharging and compensating staff.

1.5 The member shall maintain in professional confidence participant, volunteer and staff information, observations or evaluations and shall adhere to all legal requirements.

1.6 The member, in community settings, shall use caution in forming dual or multiple relationships with participants or former participants where there is a risk of a conflict of interest. The member, in clinical treatment settings, shall avoid dual relationships when possible. In situations where dual relationships are unavoidable, the member shall be responsible for setting clear, appropriate and sensitive boundaries.

1.7 The member will understand the sensitive nature of physical touch and use it with caution.

Principle 2

The member accepts responsibility for the exercise of sound judgment and professional competence.

2.1 The member shall accurately represent his/her level of expertise, experience, education and actual practice and provide service only to those individuals he/she can competently serve.

2.2 The member shall engage in sound business, employment and administrative practices.

2.4 The member shall engage in continued personal growth, continuing relevant education and professional skill development.

2.5 The member shall recognize and take appropriate action to remedy personal problems and limitations that might cause harm to recipients of service, colleagues or others.

2.6 The member shall demonstrate objectivity and fairness by interacting with individuals in an impartial manner.

2.7 The member shall accept responsibility for the exercise of sound judgment when interacting with individuals and animals.

2.8 The member shall demonstrate openness to, and respect for, other colleagues and professionals.

Principle 3

The member shall respect the integrity and well-being of program equines and animals whether owned, leased or borrowed.

3.1 The member shall recognize and respect the individual character, nature and physical attributes of each program equine.

3.2 The member shall encourage safe and respectful human and equine interactions, placing equines in activities suited to their temperament and physical ability.

3.3 The member shall support the highest standard of care, maintenance and selection for each program equine, understanding and responding to the equine's need for socialization, play, turnout, time off and retirement.

3.4 When equines are borrowed or leased, the same high standards of equine respect, care and maintenance apply.

3.5 The member shall cultivate a barn and practice environment that supports personal and professional development and is compliant with PATH Intl. standards.

Principle 4

The member shall be truthful and fair in representing him- or herself and other members or centers.

4.1 The member shall be responsible for providing each participant with accurate information regarding programs, services, professional training and credentials, as well as possible benefits, outcomes, expected activities, risks and limitations of the service or program.

4.2 The member shall meet commitments to participants, colleagues, equines, agencies, the equine-assisted activities and therapies community and the community at large.

4.3 The member shall use the PATH Intl. logo only in accordance with the PATH Intl. brand policy.

Principle 5

The member shall seek to expand his/her knowledge base related to the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies.

5.1 The member shall maintain a high level of professional competence by continued participation in educational activities that enhance basic knowledge and provide new knowledge.

5.2 The member shall support the sharing and dissemination of information, the provision of training and conducting of research for the benefit of the profession.

5.3 The member shall demonstrate commitment to quality assurance. The member in clinical treatment settings shall engage in providing and receiving individual or peer supervision and/or staffing consultation on a regular basis.

Principle 6

The member shall honor all financial commitments to participants, personnel, vendors, donors, PATH Intl. and others.

6.1 The member shall negotiate and clarify the fee structure and payment policy prior to the initiation of service and charge in a responsible and reasonable manner.

6.2 The member shall not misrepresent in any fashion services rendered or products dispensed.

6.3 The member shall be truthful and fair in representing him- or herself in fundraising activities.

6.4 The member shall honor all debt obligations.

6.5 The member shall maintain membership in PATH Intl. and pay the appropriate fee as determined by the Board of Trustees. Instructors shall remain in good standing with the annual compliance process for instructors

Principle 7

The member shall abide by PATH Intl. Standards and Guidelines and all state, local and federal laws.

Principle 8

The member supports PATH Intl. in its efforts to protect participants, equines, the public and the profession from unethical, incompetent or illegal practice.

8.1 The member shall present this PATH Intl. Code of Ethics to all staff and personnel, outlining their collective obligation to support it and address any questions or concerns pertaining to it.

8.2 The member accepts the responsibility to discuss suspect unethical behavior directly with the parties involved and, if unresolved, to report unethical, incompetent or illegal acts to PATH Intl.

Approved by NARHA Board of Trustees October 21, 2010
Edited name change to PATH Intl. July 2011

Grace Period Policy - Certification
Grace Period Policy - Membership
Grace Period Policy - New Center Program
Instructor Certification Application Refund Policy
PAC Host Policy
PAC Reinstatement Policy
Standards Development

Privacy Policy -- updated 5/25/18



Premier Accredited Center Reinstatement Policy

A PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center within the center’s five year accreditation term that does not renew its center membership before the end of the 90-day membership grace period (per the Membership Grace Period Policy available on the PATH Intl. website) and thus has an expired membership must:

  1. Rejoin the association
  2. Follow a reinstatement process for accreditation


Time Past Membership Expiration

Reinstatement Fee
(as of 7/1/2011)

Reinstate Accreditation Status
90 days to 6 months $50 + outstanding accreditation invoices
  • Complete the PATH Intl. Accreditation Self-Study form
  • Complete the Center Accreditation/Standards course and successfully complete the exam
6 months to 1 years $100 + outstanding accreditation invoices
  • Complete the PATH Intl. Accreditation Self-Study form
  • Complete the Center Accreditation/Standards course and successfully complete the exam
  • Visit by site visitors. Site visitors travel expenses to be reimbursed by the center.  Site visitors submit observations and recommendations to Accreditation Subcommittee.  Accreditation Subcommittee makes final recommendation for reinstatement.*

Centers that rejoin after one year will join as a PATH Intl. Center Member.  Centers that wish to accredit after the change in status need to be a center member in good standing for one year after rejoining before applying for accreditation and must also pay any outstanding accreditation balances from their previous Premier Accredited Center status.

*The Accreditation Subcommittee will be informed of a pattern of grievance submitted to PATH Intl. (although not the specific grievances) as it considers a center reinstatement.


Reviewed by Programs & Standards Oversight Committee: June 2011
Forwarded to Membership Oversight Committee Region Reps for feedback: June 2011
Forwarded to Education Oversight Committee for feedback: June 2001
Reviewed and Recommended by Accreditation Subcommittee with suggested edits: October 2011
Approved by PATH Intl. Board of Trustees: November 2011

Standards Development Policies and Procedures

Revision Date 11/03
Approved by the PATH Intl. BOT:  12/11/2007

1.0    Scope and General Procedures
2.0    Authorization
3.0    Appointed Standards Development Task Force
4.0    Operation of  Standards Development Task Force
5.0    Standards Development Task Force Procedure
6.0    Field Testing
7.0    Standards Hearings
8.0    Voting
9.0    Changes in Status of Active Standards

Certification(s) Grace Period Policy

All PATH Intl. Centers in good standing will be given 24 months to comply with the specialty requirements for certification and the core standard for certification when a new PATH Intl. certification becomes required. In the interim the center must meet Standard MA1* by having a PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructor present as well as the Instructor-in-Training for the specialty activity during the time the specialty activity is taking place.

Example:  January 1st of 2020 PATH Intl. launches the certification and specialty standards for Juggling.  This means that any and all PATH Intl. Centers currently offering Juggling will be given 24 months in which their instructor(s) of Juggling must become certified and in compliance with both MA1* and the specialty standard for certification as well

Policy Proposed: 10/24/08
Reviewed and Recommended by Program & Standards Oversight: 12/5/2008
Approved by the PATH Intl. Board: 1/12/2009

PATH Intl. Centers Piloting or Starting Up New Programs Grace Policy

All PATH Intl. Centers in good standing will be given 12 months to comply with all specialty requirements for a newly added program.  All Premier Accredited and Member Centers must complete a “Change Notification Form” and a “Progress Plan Form”. Once the 12 month grace period is over the PAC will need to meet and show compliance with all specialty standards. Then the PAC’s status will be reviewed and evaluated by the Accreditation Committee to decide if a re-visit is necessary.  The center must continue to meet all core standards during the grace period.  In the interim the center must meet Standard MA1* by having a PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructor present as well as the Instructor-in-Training for the specialty activity during the time the specialty activity is taking place.

Policy Proposed: 10/24/08
Reviewed and Recommended by Program & Standards Oversight: 12/5/2008
Approved by the PATH Intl. Board: 1/12/2009

Instructor Certification Application Refund Policy – Effective September 1, 2006

PATH Intl. Instructor Certification Applications will only be refunded if a written request is made via mail or email to the Certification Department, Attn: Manager of Certification.

The written request must be received in the PATH Intl. office within 5 business days of the received date of the application.  Please include in the written request: name, member number, address, phone number and reason for refund.

If access has already occurred to the Online courses a refund will not be given.  Refunds will be issued in the original form of payment. If a credit card is used for application fee and not available for credit, a check will be issued for the refunded amount.

Merchandise or materials purchased with the Instructor Application submission will be considered under the Returns/Refund policy.  

PATH Intl. Membership is non-refundable; please see the Memberships refund policy.

PATH Intl. Membership Grace Period Policy

Individual and center members are extended a 90-day grace period following the current membership date to renew their membership. A member who completes the membership renewal process during this time frame maintains the original membership join date and remains eligible for longevity programs and other tenure-based benefits.  After the 90-day grace period a member can rejoin the organization and receives a new join date.

The grace period is the amount of time after a membership expires and before a payment is made. During this time the member continues to receive benefits. When the grace period expires, if the member has not renewed, the membership is changed to inactive.

Policy Proposed (Drafted by Staff):  7/9/2009
Approved by CEO:  9/4/09
Accepted by PATH Intl. Board:  9/8/09

Premier Accredited Center Host Policy

A PATH Intl. member center must have Premier Accredited Center status to host an official PATH Intl. event, e.g. a PATH Intl. Registered On-site Workshop, PATH Intl. Mentor Training, PATH Intl. Driving Workshop and/or Certification, PATH Intl. Vaulting Workshop and/or Certification, PATH Intl./EFMHA Equine Specialist Workshop, PATH Intl. Regional Conference, etc.  

Recognizing that exceptions may be necessary (including, but not limited to, international venues, relationship building with other organizations in the industry) a request to host a PATH Intl. event may be submitted to the PATH Intl. office by facilities that are not PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Centers.  The senior programs staff person will review with the chair of appropriate committee and make a recommendation to the PATH Intl. CEO.  Some non-PATH Intl. PAC sites may be unknown to the committee chair such that a site visit is needed prior to an event being hosted to ensure a safe and professional environment.  The committee chair and senior programs staff person will assess the need for a site visit by a PATH Intl. accreditation site visitor to determine if the center/site meets PATH Intl. standards.  If needed, the expenses of the pre-event visit will be borne by the host center.  CEO will make the final decision with the input outlined as to whether to host event at any site that is not a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center.
Policy Proposed:  12/29/2008
Approved by CEO:  1/6/2009
Approved by PATH Intl. Board: 1/12/2009 (Host policy)
Suspended by PATH Intl. Board until further input from PATH Intl. program committees:  3/15/2009
Addendum in Italics proposed by Staff: 6/22/09
Reviewed and Recommended by Program & Standards Oversight Committee:  12/17/09
Amended Policy approved by PATH Intl. Board:  1/11/2010

PATH Intl. Strategic Plan (2016)

PATH Intl. Bylaws - 2018, approved 11/2/18

PATH Intl. Bylaws - 2017, approved 11/10/17
   PATH Intl. Bylaws - 2018, draft

PATH Intl. Position Statements

PATH Intl. Credentialing Council Charter - May 2017

Privacy Policy -- updated 5/25/18

PATH Intl. Brand and Graphics Guide -- August 2018


PATH Intl. Brochure (6 MB)

PATH Intl. Fact Sheets


PATH Intl. Volunteer Organizational Chart (updated 01/18)

PATH Intl. Code of Ethics

PATH Intl. Whistleblower Policy (updated 01/17)

NARHA/EFMHA Integration FAQs

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - Are Nonprofits Required to Pay Overtime?


Annual Meeting Minutes

2020 Annual Meeting Video
If you’ve never been able to attend a PATH Intl. Annual Meeting, here’s your opportunity to see what it’s all about. Watch the video to learn about the state of your organization! The meeting includes everything from finance to President and CEO reports and everything in between. Enjoy!

Minutes from the 2018 PATH Intl. Annual Meeting - October 2018

Minutes from the 2017 PATH Intl. Annual Meeting - November 2017

PowerPoint presentation of the 2017 Annual Meeting
2016 Strategic Plan Update Highlights

Minutes from the 2016 PATH Intl. Annual Meeting - November 2016

Minutes from the 2015 PATH Intl. Annual Meeting - November 2015

Minutes from the 2014 PATH Intl. Annual Meeting - October 2014

Minutes from the 2013 PATH Intl. Annual Meeting - November 2013


Business and Legal Documents

PATH Intl. Articles of Incorporation - 2011

PATH Intl. Statement of Trade Name

PATH Intl. Tax Exempt Status as a 501(c)3


Click here for financials (990s and audits)



PATH Intl. Board Job Description

PATH Intl. Board Application Form

PATH Intl. Membership Outreach Committee Region Representative nomination form (2020-2021)


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Are Nonprofits Required to Pay Overtime?

New Overtime Rule Needs Your Attention

You may have seen or read about the ruling by the Department of Labor regarding minimum salaries for exemptions from overtime going into effect on December 1, 2016. This ruling may or may not affect you, your center, or your employees; we thought it would be a good idea to give you some information and a link to learn more.

First, let’s define our terms:

Exempt – If you are paying an employee a set amount, no matter how many hours in a week they work, they have been classified as exempt by someone at some point in time (or their job has been). The link at the end of this article will lead you to the “tests” to help you make sure your exempt employees are truly eligible to be exempt or if they should be non-exempt, hourly wage earners.

Non-exempt – This refers to a wage-earning employee. They are paid X dollars per hour and, if they work more than 40 hours per week, they must be paid overtime. Please note that minimum wage varies from state to state; please be sure you are meeting the required minimum wage for your area.

There is no nonprofit exception to the new rule. This means nonprofits are subject to the same regulations as any other business.

The new rule is this:
As of December 1, 2016, the minimum salary for exempt employees goes up to $47,476 from $23,660, and there will be an automatic increase every three years. This means that if you have exempt, salaried employees, they must make at least $47,476 per year starting December 1.

There are a few possibilities out there to change this however, do not count on them happening in time to stop the December 1st deadline:

The House passed the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-profits Act, delaying the change until June 1, 2017. It has not yet gone to the Senate for a vote.

The Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (OREA) is in committee. It would incrementally phase in the new salary threshold over the next three years; $35,948 on December 1 and eliminate automatic updates to the salary threshold every three years.

The Congressional Review Act (depends on the outcome of the November elections).
Lawsuits filed on September 20, 2016 in 21 states stating that the new overtime rule is unconstitutional, is contrary to Congressional intent, and automatic increases violate the Administrative procedures Act.

The bottom line is that each business, each employer, must look at the criteria for possible exemption from FLSA regulations (both for minimum wage and exempt/non-exempt status). The burden of proof lies with the employer for determining and defending employee status. Make sure your job descriptions reflect “exempt” or “non-exempt” status for the position and include words used in exemption tests for your exempt employees.

Click here to learn more.


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