About PATH Intl.

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!

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