About PATH Intl.

Finding Equine Gems

Rachel Royston, PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee Member

Welfare of our equine partners is one of the biggest responsibilities that we as PATH Intl. professionals carry. We need to find the horses who WANT and LOVE the work that we do so they thrive and avoid burnout. In order to find these equine gems, it takes time.

  • Have a firm understanding of the requirements of your center for your herd in writing.
  • Have a comprehensive form for the donor to fill out on health, vices, training, etc...HAVE A TEAM! Staff & volunteers who are knowledgeable horsemen need to work together to review this form.
  • HAVE A TEAM Visit the horse at their own home, where they are comfortable. Watch the owner catch, groom, tack and ride the horse before beginning your own testing. THEN play with props, ride...do everything you would do in a class. Watch for very subtle cues from the horse. A horse’s curiosity and interest is key.
  • Once the horse is at our barn, only staff and feed team members handle the horse for the first 30 days to set clear expectations for the horse. Do mock lessons and desensitize. At the end of 30 days, vote to see if he stays or if he needs to go home.
  • The 2nd 30 days the horse gets to take part in lessons with our clients, one lesson per day. We are careful of who we have handle, ride and sidewalk. For the first two weeks we set this horse up for success and success only. Then we allow more challenges in people and energy. Day 60: Vote again.
  • The 3rd 30 days, the horse gets to participate in two lessons per day and we are not picky about handlers/sidewalkers/riders so that he can have different experiences in a safe environment under a careful eye. Observing how he reacts can tell us a lot about whether he is being “a good boy” or if he really likes this job. That is what the 3rd month is about.

Given the opportunity, we would allow more time than 3 months, but this has worked well for us.

After the horse has been accepted into the program, his care has just begun. EVERY volunteer is trained to lead, groom and tack each horse the EXACT same way so that there is as much consistency as possible for the horses. Orientation at Turning Point includes setting the expectation that almost all things are handled IN THE MOMENT for the sake of the horses and riders. This avoids hurt feelings and bruised pride most of the time.

Our Schooling Team members are evaluated on the same rubric that our instructors are graded on in order to be a part of the team. They sign a contract regarding expectations of this position.

Our SideKicks, volunteers who spend unmounted time with our horses, provide relaxing, stress free time with a human. They also sign a contract with expectations.

Consistency and known expectations are key to a happy, healthy herd from BEFORE Day 1.

Rachel Royston
Executive Director of Turning Point Ranch Therapeutic Riding Center
PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Mentor, ESMHL

Who Benefits and How? Equine Welfare and Animal-Centered Activities

By Miyako Kinoshita, Chair, PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee

As humans, we explore the world through our hands and express emotional connection through touch [1], [2], words and sharing of food [3]–[5], whereas emerging research shows that horses create bonds through proximity [6], time and mutual engagement rather than touch or pressure.´, Emily Kierson, PhD candidate Oklahoma University, August equine Welfare Tips

For me this quote puts into question a principle often cited in the equine facilitated mental health, that of the interactions between people and horses being “mutually beneficial”. In my opinion, this may be an outdated and rather misleading concept.  While equines can participate in programs with or without negative experience and/or benefit, equines are involved only because of human desires and decisions.  Humans work with equines as well as other animals because it is beneficial to us: we are in power and control. 

In my work with children with psychosocial challenges offering and facilitating nature-based programs, I have seen and experienced the positive outcomes of these interspecies interactions again and again.  Often an increase in confidence, empathy, compassion, respect, communication, emotional intelligence is observed in children. What of the horse and what about the horse? Equine behavior is different from ours and recognizing those needs can be complicated coming from the human world. What do horses actually gain through interactions with humans?   

I have met some equines who seem to enjoy physical touch and interaction.  I have also seen many who don’t really seem to enjoy it but learned to accept it.  This fact creates a little bit of a dilemma, what should come first, human satisfaction or the feelings of horses? Being not only just kind to equines, but really understanding and accepting them and their needs as horses, is critically important in the children’s journey of building a truly mutual relationship. For example, while petting, hugging, kissing horses, may be good ways to teach children how to express their affection to the horses, but it may be more stressful and unnatural to the horses than helpful?  Yes, they learn to tolerate it, but do they truly enjoy it?

An awareness of the contradictions and differences between what people and animal needs are important in our Green Chimneys approach to human-animal interaction, where we implement animal-centered program, in which children actively engage in activities to care for the animals, learn from and about their needs and do what is best for them.  Children are encouraged to think about others, putting themselves in the animal’s hooves, (so to speak), and gain insight into forming relationship, ensuring welfare, considering ethics and social justice.  

 At Green Chimneys, we also use a Positive Youth Development framework in Nature Based Programs and promote 5 + 1 Cs, Competence, Confidence, Caring and compassion, Connections, Character, + Contribution. When children engage in activities to care for the animals, from the beginning, we create animal focused goals quite different from more traditional human-centered activities such as riding, vaulting or growth and learning ground exercises.  

Children come to the barn to do something for the horses to make a difference.  Their mindset is “to help horses”.  The activity itself already frames compassion, empathy, and the desire to be a steward.  Children want to learn and gain knowledge on equine behavior, management, or health issues, in order to come up with ideas how to help them.  Some of the activities involve grooming, treating minor injuries, or taking a horse for a walk.  Other activities do not require horses to be directly involved but to just be themselves.  For example, children who come to the barn around lunch time engage in mixing feed and mashes for the horses.    Some prepare and feed the lunch hay.  Some fill out the water buckets that are half empty.  These activities, when intentionally and thoughtfully facilitated by a trained person, can create wonderful opportunities to build confidence, empathy and relationship skills while the horse at the same time is not being “used” in activities, but is allowed to just be themselves. This kind of activity then really could become mutually beneficial? 

Focusing and diverting attention from the child’s needs to those of the animal can be a major shift. The child who is at the center of all the psychological treatment we provide, of academic efforts is under pressure of “what is good for you”, “what you need”, and how “we help you”.  When focusing on the needs of a horse, for a short while, the child focuses on someone else in need, and plays the role of a caregiver.  This role reversal allows the child to feel confident and competent, feeling a lot better about himself and his ability to help others.  We see children relax, and enjoy the experience as if pressure on them lifted.  Often therapists say a child looks and acts freely while engaging in caring for the animals.  

Another benefit is that equine behavior, language, and communication become very critical for children to learn when horses and their welfare is at the center.  It is not about “what can a horse do for me”, but “what can I do for a horse”, and “how can I understand them better”.  Children become so in-tuned with equine behavior and subtle cues.  We have children observe equine behavior in a herd, and discuss what happens when a group dynamic changes, how they express themselves, and individuality of each horse. This then is translated to when children interact with horses in grooming.  Horses exhibit different behavior on cross-ties, and children accept different needs individual horse has.   Finally when they ride, they are aware of horse’s subtle cues such as ears as well as each horse’s personality and behavior.  This allows children to ride with most concern about horse’s comfort and well-being in mind.  When a horse is already tacked up and child just gets on the horse to ride, this whole connection and understanding of the horse as its own emotional being can be missed or underemphasized.  In a therapeutic program, the child should be a guide and trusted leader working with a horse, not a person in control or in charge to make horse do things on his back. The child controls his own body and movements to best help horses move comfortably.  The child learns to give clear and precise signals and cues to communicate with the horse.  To me, that is closer to being “mutually beneficial”, not because the horse benefits from being ridden but the horse benefits from the rider understanding its behavior, needs, and movements and become mindful. 

It is my hope that we seriously consider the notion of what is “mutually beneficial” in the human and equine relationship in EAA/T, that there are times when the benefit may be one-sided, sometimes we compromise and we have the chance to create situations that benefit the horse more. While we accept our power and impact on equine in domesticated setting, we can take ownership of the responsibility that comes with it, and put their needs and comfort in the center of the program to uphold the highest standards in equine welfare.  Equine welfare education and animal-centered program can offer opportunities for the humans to learn and foster positive characters while offering equines more comfortable and optimal environment.  


in this article, the words animals and equines are used interchangeably.  As I work with not only equines but other domesticated animals, the idea applies to all animals including equine.  

PATH International is a partner in The Right Horse Initiative, a collective of equine industry and welfare professionals and advocates working together to improve the lives of horses in transition and massively increase horse adoption in the United States. Connect with The Right Horse at the 2019 PATH Intl. Conference and Pre-Conference in Denver or at www.therighthorse.org.

Is a Horse in Transition the Right Horse for Your EAAT Program?

By Christie Schulte Kappert, Member, PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee

The call is one you’ve probably received many times: a local horse owner has heard of your organization and wants to donate a horse to the therapeutic riding program. A nice gelding is stepping down from a previous career, or maybe he’s been enjoying the semi-retired life in the pasture after his rider went off to college. Yes, he may be 23 and requires senior feed, individual turnout, joint injections and special shoeing; but he has several good years left. At The Right Horse we refer to these as horses in transition; horses moving from a variety of careers to new situations.

Perhaps it’s more of a true rescue case - from an auction, “kill pen” or homeless situation. A community member, volunteer, or staff member has come across a horse in need. Their compassion for others, which serves them so well in an EAAT setting, is calling them to help this horse, too.

A prevailing belief exists that older, retired or less-than-sound horses are in demand for therapy programs. Well-intentioned owners often assume it is a great option for a horse in transition, but most people don’t realize how physically and mentally demanding an EAAT job can be. Furthermore, it’s a compelling story to draw a parallel between a rescued equine that has overcome stigma and challenges, and clients in your EAAT programs.

Are these “free” horses the right fit for your EAAT program? Do you accept them? What resources and time will it take to turn them into successful program horses? And what happens if it doesn’t work out? These are critical questions to ask of any horse entering the program, but particularly one offered for donation or free. Rescuing a horse yourself may bring unexpected hurdles. The good news is you don’t have to play both rescue and therapy center to both save a horse’s life and reap the benefits for your program and clients. In fact, I’d argue you can help more horses and more people by not attempting to do both.

PATH Intl. Centers and Instructors have specific missions and clients who rely on them. Most are not set up to be a rescue, rehabilitation, evaluation and training program for horses in transition. However, that’s exactly what great rescues and adoption centers do every day! It’s their business and expertise to take at-risk horses and prepare them for a new home and career through adoption.

When you adopt from a 501c3 non-profit equine adoption center or rescue, you experience benefits that help take the risk and guesswork out of your new horse. Adoption organizations following best practices will:

  • Offer horses for adoption who are up to date on farrier and veterinary care including vaccinations, Coggins tests and dentistry work
  • Have evaluated the horses’ temperament and be honest about their personalities
  • Be transparent about each horse’s training level, preferably using the Basic Behaviors Profile for ground handling skills
  • Provide training according to each horse’s individual needs
  • Have adoption applications, contracts and procedures that are not overly intrusive or complicated
  • Not have a deadline for horses to be rehomed or pressure you into making a quick decision
  • Transfer legal ownership to adopters within a reasonable amount of time
  • Offer a friendly post-adoption support system
  • Have a policy to take adopted horses back at any time for any reason
  • Might even be willing to offer a free lease for an EAAT program

Most of all, a good adoption organization will have the primary goal of matching the right horse to the right person or job. Many groups offer additional benefits such as trial periods, free riding lessons with the prospective horse before adopting, and training support post-adoption. The average adoption fee for a riding horse is typically between $500-$1,000. This is a fantastic deal for a horse that’s vetted, evaluated and ready to go to work.

Be sure to look for all those elements when considering adoption. Many brokers, “feedlots” or “kill pens” may misuse the term “adoption” and do not offer the safeguards listed here. Ask plenty of questions – transparency, good customer service and responsiveness are the hallmarks of great adoption centers. Check that the rescue shows financial transparency and has basic legal boxes checked such as being a registered 501c3 charitable organization. A great place to start is by searching www.myrighthorse.org. Adoptable horses come in every breed, age, size, shape and personality to match exactly what your program needs.

At The Right Horse, it’s our goal to match the right horse with the right home. Adoption organizations have the unique ability to identify and develop prospects for EAAT careers. Strong partnerships with the right adoption groups can ultimately help very good people find very good horses.

PATH International is a partner in The Right Horse Initiative, a collective of equine industry and welfare professionals and advocates working together to improve the lives of horses in transition and massively increase horse adoption in the United States. Connect with The Right Horse at the 2019 PATH Intl. Conference and Pre-Conference in Denver or at www.therighthorse.org.

Tips for Feeding the Senior PATH Intl. Horse

By Jessica Normand, PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee Member

Modern horses tend to live long lives, thanks to advancing veterinary medicine and improved management. This means those of us caring for aging horses need to understand how to best meet their nutritional needs. While there isn’t a specific age that horses are considered “senior”, 15 is generally a good benchmark for when the horse’s health and nutritional needs may start to change. Of course, it’s imperative to work with your veterinarian to monitor each horse’s body condition, digestive health, immunity, and overall wellness as they age.

What happens in the aging horse?
You may notice senior horses in your care have a reduced body condition score (weight loss), loss of muscle tone including a sway back, dental changes, and a decreased ability to maintain the same workload as they could in their younger days. Older horses may also start to experience less effective digestive function, loss of bone density, a less robust immune system, less resilient connective tissue, and reduced cardiopulmonary function.

Feeding the Older Horse
Work with your veterinarian to monitor body condition and dental health carefully. Aging horses may have a harder time maintaining healthy fat cover and muscle tone as their digestive tracts become less efficient, and of course dental disease adds to this challenge. All horses need 1-2% of their body weight from forage, so you may have to adjust the sources of roughage provided to senior horses in your care, to accommodate their changing dental needs. Some options include complete feeds, which are formulated with a significant portion of fiber, as well as chopped forage, cubed forage, or soaked beet pulp. For senior horses not being fed a full serving of a fortified or complete feed, consider a balanced vitamin/mineral supplement to make sure their basic nutrient requirements are being met.

Aging equine digestive tracts may have a harder time absorbing protein from the diet. As a result, it’s important to provide high quality protein, meaning essential amino acids, rather than just focusing on the total (crude) protein percentage. Research* has shown that supplementing with the essential amino acids lysine and threonine, specifically, improves muscle mass in aged horses. This may be an excellent strategy for senior horses who lose their topline and develop a “pot belly” appearance from the weight of their intestines, due to loss of abdominal muscle tone. There are numerous equine amino acid supplements on the market, and several are quite economical.

Supplements designed to support the function of the digestive system by providing probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes can be a great addition to the senior horse’s program. Healthy horses in their prime manufacture their own vitamin C and B vitamins, but as their bodies become less efficient in these functions, supplementing with these vitamins may also be warranted. Additional antioxidants like vitamin E, as well as adaptogens and other herbs meant to support the immune system can be great additions to the senior horse’s program as well.

For senior horses that need help maintaining weight overall (not just lean muscle) consider adding more fat to the diet. Because fat is the most concentrated source of calories, it’s the most efficient way to help any horse gain weight. It’s also a “cool” burning energy source (won’t make horses excitable) and healthier than increasing calories from a grain that’s high in sugars and starches – especially for senior horses also being managed for endocrine/metabolic conditions. It may make sense to choose a commercial feed with a higher crude fat percentage, and/or to add healthy oil or a fat supplement to the diet. The ideal fat supplement comes from healthy fat sources such as flax seed, chia seed, or fish oil, which are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Avoid corn oil, which is high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids. Fat must be introduced slowly to avoid loose stool (of course, it’s good practice to make ALL feed changes slowly to reduce the risk of digestive upset).

Because arthritis is an extremely common aspect of aging, also work with your veterinarian to help keep your older horses comfortable. Besides plenty of turnout (to limit stiffness) and a consistent exercise program if possible, prescription medication and/or oral joint supplements can make a big impact on senior horses’ comfort level and quality of life.

In addition to dietary considerations, there are numerous other aspects of management that need to be adjusted as senior horses age. The following article from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) provides an excellent summary: https://aaep.org/horsehealth/older-horse-special-care-nutrition

Lastly, preventive care becomes even more important as horses age, so work closely with your veterinarian. Having a comprehensive physical exam performed twice per year instead of annually is an excellent idea to help you stay on top of the changing needs of the senior horses in your care.

*Graham-Thiers PM, Kronfeld, DS. Amino acid supplementation improves muscle mass in aged and young horses. J Anim Sci. 2005 Dec;83(12):2783-8.

Horse-Human Interactions and Equine Welfare in EAAT: Aligning Our Practices With Our Goals

PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee Guest Tip from Emily Kieson, PhD candidate at Oklahoma State University

The world of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) is saturated with activities and horse-human interactions based almost exclusively on the historical use of horses for work and equitation. The same routines of haltering, grooming, riding, leading and lungeing that have been used for years in equitation have been adapted by the EAAT world to serve new purposes, and professionals in EAAT consider the horse a partner. These interactions, useful for training and schooling our horses for use in work and pleasure, may not, however, be in line with the goals of therapy. (Editor’s note: PATH Intl. Certified Professionals do not practice therapy but rather equine-assisted activities. Those participants in need of therapy are served by licensed physical and occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists and mental health professionals.) Researchers are learning more about how domestic horses communicate with each other and us, which can lead to improvements in equine welfare through better understanding of equine-human interactions and what it means for the psychological welfare of the horse. This means that, if we want to improve client-horse relationships and model good horse-human relationships for our participants, we may need to make different choices with regards to how we handle or interact with our equine partners.

As humans, we explore the world through our hands and express emotional connection through touch [1], [2], words and sharing of food [3]–[5], whereas emerging research shows that horses create bonds through proximity [6], time and mutual engagement rather than touch or pressure. Based on recent (unpublished) studies, horses engage in social connection with other horses through close proximity and a sharing of quiet space repeatedly over time. Instead, they stand quietly near their favorite partner and share mutual space while resting or grazing. Perhaps even more importantly, the relationships they build with one another are based not only on predictably safe interactions, but also mutual exploration and partnership in problem solving. Once a safe space has been established between two horses, they will begin moving and exploring together. Everything is mutual with no single leader or follower and even touch is always simultaneously reciprocated. One may demonstrate more confidence than the other, but there is no pushing or pulling to force engagement of the partner, just an invitation to join in curiosity and exploration. The joint involvement in uncertain environments is what makes horses build better relationships.

The same is true for humans, too. We build safe environments with each other over time in order to build trust and, once that trust is established, a relationship is strengthened by small challenges and uncertainties that are explored as a team [7]–[10] . These concepts have been supported by scientists who study marriage, families, friendships and work partnerships and have been studied in a wide range of species. It appears these same concepts apply to horses as well.

So how do we incorporate this into EAAT and what does this mean for welfare? Traditional equitation relies almost exclusively upon negative reinforcement (pressure and release) [11]–[13] which, when properly used, can adequately train a horse to engage in a behavior of our choosing. This use of small aversive tactics, however, does not align with how either species builds relationships. If we are hoping to work with horses in a way that both encourages and models balanced partnerships, perhaps we need to incorporate other types of interactions into our EAAT programs. This may mean, then, that we do not always ride or halter a horse and that the horse may have a choice to not engage with the participant. This may require us to set different expectations for participants and parents and help them understand why we are encouraging at-liberty work and what that means for building mutual communication and engagement for both horse and human. Horses have amazing memories and build unique relationships with each individual human that can build and develop over time. If we give our horses the choice of engaging with clients in a way that better aligns with their natural behavior, perhaps we can improve the welfare of our equine partners while simultaneously finding even better ways to build confidence, communication and emotional strength in our clients.

[1]         R. I. M. Dunbar, “The social role of touch in humans and primates: Behavioural function and neurobiological mechanisms,” Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev., vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 260–268, 2010.

[2]         A. V. Jaeggi, E. De Groot, J. M. G. Stevens, and C. P. Van Schaik, “Mechanisms of reciprocity in primates: Testing for short-term contingency of grooming and food sharing in bonobos and chimpanzees,” Evol. Hum. Behav., 2013.

[3]         J. Koh and P. Pliner, “The effects of degree of acquaintance, plate size, and sharing food intake,” Appetite, no. 52, pp. 595–602, 2009.

[4]         A. N. Crittenden and D. A. Zes, “Food Sharing among Hadza Hunter-Gatherer Children,” PLoS One, vol. 10, no. 7, 2015.

[5]         J. M. Koster and G. Leckie, “Food sharing networks in lowland Nicaragua: An application of the social relations model to count data,” Soc. Networks, 2014.

[6]         M. C. Van Dierendonck, H. Sigurjónsdóttir, B. Colenbrander, and a. G. Thorhallsdóttir, “Differences in social behaviour between late pregnant, post-partum and barren mares in a herd of Icelandic horses,” Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., vol. 89, pp. 283–297, 2004.

[7]         J. K. Rempel, J. G. Holmes, and M. P. Zanna, “Trust in Close Relationships,” J. Pers. Soc. Psychol., vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 95–112, 1985.

[8]         B. Vollan, “The difference between kinship and friendship: (Field-) experimental evidence on trust and punishment,” J. Socio. Econ., vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 14–25, 2011.

[9]         R. J. Lewicki and B. B. Bunker, “Developing and Maintaining Trust in Work Relationships,” Trust Organ. Front. Theory Res., no. October, pp. 114–139, 2015.

[10]      R. J. Lewicki and R. J. Bies, “Trust and Distrust : New Relationships and Realities,” vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 438–458, 2018.

[11]      J. Murphy and S. Arkins, “Equine learning behaviour.,” Behav. Processes, vol. 76, no. 1, pp. 1–13, Sep. 2007.

[12]      P. D. McGreevy and A. N. McLean, “Punishment in horse-training and the concept of ethical equitation,” J. Vet. Behav. Clin. Appl. Res., vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 193–197, Sep. 2009.

[13]      A. N. McLean and J. W. Christensen, “The application of learning theory in horse training,” Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., vol. 190, 2017.

Additional Resources:

J.M. Gottman, The Science of Trust: Emotional Attunement for Couples. New York City: W. W. Norton & Company. 2011

Feltman, The Thin Book of Trust. Bend, OR: Thin Book Publishing, 2008.

Rees, Horses in Company. London: J A Allen & Co Ltd. 2017

McGreevy, Equine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians and Equine Specialists 2nd Ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2012.

McGreevy, A. McLean, Equitation Science. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010

About the author: Emily Kieson is a PhD candidate at Oklahoma State University in comparative psychology studying equine behavioral psychology and equine-human interactions. She has a M.S. in Psychology, a graduate degree in Equine Science, is certified and practices as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning through PATH, and is certified as an Equine Specialist in a number of other EAP models. She has spent the last 20 years working full time in the horse industry and has focused the last 10 years on equine-assisted therapies. Emily, along with her colleagues at MiMer Centre, a Swedish non-profit, are helping to develop a research and education center at OSU with a focus on animal-human interactions and animal welfare.

Equine Dentistry

By Isabel Wolf Gillespie, Member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee

Do you know the difference between motorized vs manual dentistry technique?

Do you know which one is best for your horse?

Last week the equine dentist came onto the property to treat two of the middle-aged geldings in my herd of 26. The herd consists of wild horses that we rescued about three years ago, as well as 10 ‘domesticated’, working horses. The wild horses have become very relaxed in the three years living with us, but at this point in time they would never allow a human hand or metal instruments inside their mouths.

Dentistry has never been high on my priority list, due to the fact that my herd lives out, in mountainous terrain, with access to diverse grass and plant species allowing them to graze selectively as they should. Despite their happy, healthy lifestyle, two of the working geldings started to show these pockets along their jawlines, where most likely grass gets stuck behind a wolf tooth or possibly a broken tooth or hole.

The dentist arrived with plenty of boxes and an immense amount of equipment, which I couldn’t recall was necessary from my previous dentistry experiences. Upon questioning, the dentist outlined the procedure and that’s when I realized that he will be using motorized gear – a first – on my horses. It’s not that I hadn’t heard of the motorized technique before or that I am somewhat ‘old-fashioned’, still I was a little bit nervous and concerned for the well-being of my horses.  

According to Veterinarian Dr. Raymond Q. Hyde, DVM, who has been in practice for 26 years and at the same time is a certified equine dentist, the use of motorized gear has its beginnings in Germany over 60 years ago.

Dr. Hyde elaborates that the technology using motorized equipment was lost due to World War II, when afterwards horses were no longer considered ‘that valuable’. Equine dentistry as a result, took a backfoot so to speak and only more recently the need for more advanced dental procedures and care has regained importance.

The manual floating of teeth is a fairly simple procedure - I say fairly, as some horses as with their hooves, just don’t see the point of these procedures! If your horse is comfortable with a halter (and mouth prop) on its head, touching around the mouth and can stand still, you and/or the dentist should be fine.

One of the most severe differences between manual and motorized in my opinion, is that the horse has to be sedated for the motorized procedure. The equipment makes a lot of noise, and the vibrations the horse is exposed to during the use is just too much to stand for without a little help. Additionally, the possibility of injuries with motorized equipment is higher especially if the horse shakes its head or moves around.  

This is largely the reason why equine dentistry with the use of motorized equipment is often done by veterinarians, who are permitted and skilled in sedating our animals. If a dentist is not a vet, the vet will have to be called out for the motorized dentistry procedure, which impacts on our budgets for such procedures.

After my recent experience and doing some research into the equine dentistry field, I have come to realize and understand, that the dentistry procedure itself remains the same, whether motorized or manual equipment is used.

Whatever procedure you choose for your most precious four-legged companions, the key lies in selecting the right equine dentistry practitioner. Ensure you are choosing a highly skilled individual, someone with experience and good references, someone that will treat your horses kindly during the procedure. The danger does not lie in the use of equipment, but rather in poor technique or unskilled application.

Reference List:






Baseline Definition Summit

PATH Intl. is leading an initiative with the goal of term definition consensus among the major stakeholders in the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). Thank you to the initial workgroup comprised of Joann Benjamin, Michele Kane, Lynn Thomas and Dr. Wendy Wood for helping to lead this important initiative. And thank you to the Bob Woodruff Foundation for making this project possible.
We are pleased to announce the participants in that summit, representing a wide range of perspectives from the EAAT field. The participants in alphabetical order are (click the participant's name to be taken to their bio below):

Kathy Alm – CEO, PATH Intl. /former PATH Intl. Center Executive Director

Debbie Anderson – Equine Assisted Learning & Therapy/PATH Intl. Center Administrator

Emily Bader – Program Officer, Bob Woodruff Foundation

Joann Benjamin – Physical Therapist/Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist/American Hippotherapy Association

Dr. Octavia Brown – PATH Intl. Master Instructor/Professor of Equine Studies, Centenary University

Analisa Enoch – Program Specialist for the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic (NVSSC)

Nina Ekholm Fry – Mental Health Professional/Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Counseling/University of Denver, Institute for Human-Animal Connection/HETI/CBEIP/ISES/American Hippotherapy Association

Margaret “Meg” Harrell – Chief program Officer, Bob Woodruff Foundation

Michele Kane – MA Clinical Mental Health/Veteran/PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor  

Miyako Kinoshita – EFMHA/Equine Assisted Learning/PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Martin C. Pearce – PR/Marketing/Communications/Parent of a participant

Lynn Klimas Petr – PATH Intl. Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor/PATH Intl. Center Founder & Administrator

Lissa Pohl – University of Kentucky, Community & Leadership Development/Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) Master Trainer

Laurie Schick – Physical Therapist/Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist/American Hippotherapy Association/3rd party billing

Lynn Thomas – LCSW/Mental Health Professional/Founder & CEO, Eagala 

Wendy Wood, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Professor of Equine Sciences and Occupational Therapy, Director of Research, Temple Grandin Equine Center, Colorado State University

Ken Minkoff and Chris Cline, Facilitators, Zia Partners, www.ziapartners.com


Kathy Alm began her service as chief executive officer of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) in August 2014. For the previous 16 years she served as executive director of Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Woodinville, WA. She grew the previously grass roots organization from a $280,000 annual operating budget to a professional $2.1 million organization. Kathy’s board service includes the PATH Intl. board from 2005 – 2013, including the office of board president, founder/board member of the Director of Disabilities Organization, board member of the Alliance of Eastside Agencies as well as founder/board member of Theatre Puget Sound. Throughout her tenure in equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT), Kathy has served as a PATH Intl. region representative, chaired the PATH Intl. administrators’ committee, and presented at numerous regional and annual conferences all over the country. She holds a BA degree from Pacific Lutheran University. Her dedication to the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies spans more than 19 years with a passion that was ignited the moment she walked through the door at her first therapeutic riding center. 

Debbie Anderson has been on the cutting edge of the equine-assisted learning and therapy industry for over 35 years. Debbie has specialized in creating EAL programs in partnership with schools, corporations and many mental health associations. Debbie is also responsible for co- founding Strides to Success, the first center in the United States to become accredited in PATH Intl. mental health standards. Debbie has authored and co-authored many EAL curricula and resources that are considered industry staples. In addition to being involved on a program level, Debbie has dedicated her energy to PATH Intl. for the last 25 years serving on many committees as well as serving on the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees. She also serves as a lead site-visitor. Debbie is a well-known conference presenter, motivator, mentor and facilitator within the EAAT industry. Debbie was PATH Intl. certified in 1996 as a therapeutic riding instructor and is also certified as an equine specialist in mental health and learning. Additional certifications include Certified Equine Interaction Professional in Education, Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) certified corporate trainer, Master HorseWork trainer and is also EAGALA trained. Today, Debbie serves as the founder/executive director at Strides to Success with a mission of spreading knowledge and assisting centers worldwide by promoting best practices within the EAAT industry. 

Emily Bader is a program officer at the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF). In this capacity, she is responsible for finding, funding, and shaping grants made to nonprofits addressing the needs of post-9/11 veterans, service members, military families, and caregivers. Emily manages BWF investments in mental healthcare programs and is the substantive leader within BWF on mental healthcare issues for post-9/11veterans. Prior to becoming a program officer, Emily held the roles of events coordinator and strategic initiatives officer. Emily started at BWF as an intern in January 2016 while pursuing her master’s degree in Near Eastern studies at New York University. During her time at New York University, Emily helped manage academic events ranging from intimate roundtable discussions to large-scale festivals. She concluded her master’s degree with the submission of her thesis on the impact of U.S. aid to Egypt between 1940 and 2011. Emily graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. John’s University with a BS degree in criminal justice, a concentration in forensic psychology, and minors in international studies and philosophy. She also studied Arabic at The Sijal Institute for Arabic Language and Culture in Amman, Jordan.

Joann Benjamin is a physical therapist, with a pediatric practice in the Los Angeles area. She has a particular interest in words and how we use them, whether writing curriculum for American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. (AHA), teaching courses, working with USEF and FEI 

in the para disciplines, or sharing the many benefits of using equine movement with patients. Her membership with NARHA (now PATH Intl.) began 35 years ago. She is a founding and lifetime member of AHA, having served in many roles, and was the AHA Therapist of the Year in 2017. She looks forward to participating in this project. 

Dr. Octavia J. Brown is a professor of equine studies at Centenary University in Hackettstown, NJ, where she directs Therapeutic Riding at Centenary, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center. She teaches a PATH Intl.-approved instructor certification course as well as various courses in the equine studies department. She holds a Master’s of Education degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Centenary University. She is a PATH Intl. Certified Master Instructor and ESMHL and also holds EAGALA level 2 certification. Dr. Brown was a founding board member of NARHA, serving four terms on the board of directors. 

She served several years on the board of Horses and Humans Research Foundation, which led to exposure to funding applications from other countries and people/organizations not affiliated with PATH Intl. She is past president of the Federation Riding for the Disabled International (now HETI). She therefore brings significant international experience of terminology to the table as well as an historical perspective on the development of the entire field of EAAT in the United States. 

Analisa Enoch received her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a minor in marketing, Analisa spent the past fifteen years working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in different areas including Surgical Service, Mental Health, and currently for VA Central Office (VACO) in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events (NVSP&SE). The NVSP&SE office provides opportunities for health and healing through adaptive sports and therapeutic art programs. These specialized rehabilitation programs aim to optimize Veterans independence, community engagement, well-being, and quality of life.

In her current position as Program Specialist for the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic (NVSSC), she serves as the special event coordinator for all operations, budget, and planning that affects this national rehabilitative sport clinic. The NVSSC is an adaptive sport program for recently injured Veterans that takes place annually and is hosted by the VA San Diego Healthcare System. The program is built on clinical expertise within VA, with essential support from Veteran Service Organizations, corporate sponsors, individual donors and community partners.  As an event with national participation, the planning and direction for this enormous undertaking is both highly complex and multi-dimensional, requiring a very high level of organizational ability, management, and leadership skills. 

Her full-time duties have national impact and consist of a full-range of planning, organizing, implementation, and evaluation of this program. In addition to planning for this event, Analisa also oversees volunteer support staff, active duty Air Force and Marine volunteers, and directs the work of the local organizing planning committee. In addition to working for the Department of Veterans Affairs, she is married with two teenage daughters and spends most of her free time watching her oldest daughter play field hockey and youngest daughter play softball.  She enjoys traveling around the United States and to distant places, such as Africa.

Nina Ekholm Fry is director of equine programs at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection and adjunct professor at University of Denver where her work focuses on horses in clinical services and on equine behavior and welfare. For the past 12 years, she has specialized in inclusion of horses in psychotherapy in the United States and Europe and is a certified clinical trauma professional. She currently serves on the boards of the American Hippotherapy Association, Inc. (AHA) and the Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals (CBEIP). In addition to client work and teaching, Nina conducts facilitation workshops and is chief editor of the HETI Journal, published by the International Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy. Nina is a practitioner member of the International Society of Equitation Science (ISES) and teaches equine behavior at Yavapai College. She is active in the equine welfare community in the United States and consults on equine behavior and facility design nationally. Nina brings national and international experience related to education, organization and regulation of professionals who include horses in their services. 

Dr. Margaret “Meg” Harrell is the chief program officer at the Bob Woodruff Foundation. She formerly served the Obama Administration as the executive director of force resiliency, within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where she was responsible for the offices, policies, oversight and integrating activities pertaining to sexual assault prevention and response; suicide prevention; diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity; personnel safety; and for Department of Defense collaboration with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Dr. Harrell spent 25 years at the RAND Corporation, where she researched military manpower and personnel, military families’ quality of life, and veterans’ issues. Her research portfolio includes approximately 70 publications. Concurrent with her time at RAND, Dr. Harrell served as a presidential appointee to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, 2013-2014. From July 2011 to August 2012, Dr. Harrell served as a Senior Fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security, where her research focused on military veteran suicide prevention and response, veteran wellness, and veteran employment. She is a prior voting member of the Army Science Board, and has also briefed international audiences, testified before Congress, spoken extensively at conferences and guest lectured at the United States Military Academy. She holds a BA degree with distinction from the University of Virginia, an MS degree in systems analysis and management from the George Washington University, and a PhD degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Virginia, where her dissertation focused on the role expectations for Army spouses.

Michele Kane, Major, USMC (retired) retired from active duty Marine Corps in 2011 and moved from North Carolina to Fort Collins, CO, in order to attend Colorado State University’s equine sciences program. During that time, she also completed her master’s degree in professional mental health counseling (LPC). Michele learned about therapeutic riding while at CSU and decided to pursue PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor certification. She was certified in December 2013 and hired by Hearts & Horses, Inc., in January 2014, mainly to work with veterans part time. Michele worked for the VA in Fort Collins until she was hired by Hearts & Horses as a full-time instructor and veterans program coordinator in January 2015. In January 2016, she was promoted to program director. She earned her PATH Intl. Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL) certification in 2018. Michele spent over 20 years on active duty, deployed multiple times and brings many years of military experience to the table. 

Miyako Kinoshita is the current farm education program manager at the Green Chimneys Farm and Wildlife Center. She serves as the key facilitator for over 200 children with psychosocial disabilities currently in residence and day school, and facilitates and co-supervises a wide range of animal-assisted programs. 

She has a master’s degree in educational studies, and specializes in animal-assisted activity and animal-assisted education. She looks back on over 20 years of working in direct service with children and animals as a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Miyako is the former president of the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) and a former board member of PATH Intl., serving as chair of the board governance committee and as board secretary. Miyako was instrumental in reintegrating equine-assisted mental health programs back into PATH Intl., to cement the commitment to equines and equine welfare in the industry of therapeutic horsemanship. She is an author of several chapters in textbooks, including Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy by Aubrey Fine. 

Currently, Miyako is playing a key role in the clinical study on nature-based program and its effect on positive youth development, conducted by the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. Miyako coordinates and supervises some of the data collection for the multi-year scientific study to assist the investigators from on site. 

Martin C. Pearce has almost 25 years of PR/communications/marketing experience on both the agency and client sides. He has had the privilege of working for a diverse set of clients across many industries, including consumer (Barilla, Mars, Starbucks, Dove), technology (HP, T- Mobile), automotive (Nissan, Vespa), fashion (Ted Baker, Eddie Bauer), and cause-related organizations (The Omidyar Group, Humanity United, Seeds of Compassion, Omidyar Network). What he likes most about what he does is finding the best/right way to communicate to audiences he is focused on. Communications is important yet frequently under-valued and misunderstood. That said, all messages are only as good as those created with an understanding of the audience. Words matter as well as how they are delivered. Lastly, and personally, Martin really understands the power of equine-assisted activities and therapies as the parent of a 13- year-old boy who has benefited from it for 10 years. 

Lynn Klimas Petr, MS, is the founder and executive director of Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR) in Lenoir City, TN. STAR is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in its 32nd year of operation. Lynn holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation from the University of Tennessee where STAR was her master’s thesis project. 

Lynn is active in PATH Intl., being a lead site visitor for accreditation. She is a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor, a mentor for instructors and executive directors, a certified equine specialist in mental health and learning, and faculty for both the mentor and standards courses as well as for the associate visitor training course. 

Lynn assisted in the rewrite of the instructor certification test many years back and has taken on roles of state chair, region representative, education oversight chair, health and education advisory member as well as helping to start (and finish) the faculty development task force, AVTC training revamp and mentor training review and development. Lynn was also part of the 

certification review and development task force, “Reinventing Certification” workgroup and the strategic initiatives review committee. 

She is committed to assisting PATH Intl. in a constant quest for improvement in the equine- assisted activities and therapies industry and was awarded the National Volunteer Leadership Award in 2010. 

Lissa Pohl holds a master’s degree in transformational leadership development and works in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Community & Leadership Development. She has facilitated equine-assisted learning workshops with students, nonprofits and executives across the United States, the United Kingdom, and in Qatar for the Qatar Foundation. In 2012, she conducted research on “The Effectiveness of Equine Guided Leadership Education to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Expert Nurses.” 

Lissa is a certified level two Equine Experiential Education Association (E3A) Advanced Corporate Practitioner (2012), and became an E3A Master Trainer in 2015. Lissa served on the E3A Board of Directors from 2012–2018 with four years as vice president. As a member of the PATH Intl. EAL workgroup (2013-15), she assisted in defining terms and creating guidelines for the practice of EAL. She has been a volunteer at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Seattle, WA, and Central Kentucky Riding for Hope in Lexington, KY. 

Laurie Schick has been a physical therapist for over 24 years. In 2004, Laurie began developing her interest in the therapeutic value of horses and became a PATH Intl. certified instructor. In 2005, she brought hippotherapy to Forward Stride, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Beaverton, OR, eventually expanding services to five staff therapists. In 2016, Laurie moved to Bend, OR, and started a private practice at Healing Reins, another PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center. During that time she was instrumental in removing hippotherapy as an exclusion under the state Medicaid plan. Laurie partnered with Treehouse Therapies, a nonprofit pediatric therapy clinic in 2017. There she led the effort to add equine movement as a treatment tool and helped open a new 3,000 sq. ft. clinic at Healing Reins. Through Treehouse Laurie now bills insurance for all of her sessions, with 30% of her caseload being Medicaid patients. Laurie is also an active member of the AHA Reimbursement Committee. 

Lynn Thomas, LCSW, founded and serves as CEO of Eagala, a nonprofit association headquartered in Santaquin, Utah. Providing training and certification in the Eagala Model of equine-assisted psychotherapy and personal development, Eagala has over 2,500 certified members in 45 countries, with over 600 programs providing Eagala Model services globally. Lynn received her Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Utah and has over 20 years’ experience working with adolescents, families, individuals and groups in various mental health settings. She served as executive director for Aspen Ranch, a residential boarding school for troubled adolescents, where she first developed a program integrating horses as the primary treatment component. After founding Eagala in 1999, Lynn continues to work with an incredible team developing and growing the organization’s training program, resources connecting the global network and presence within the mental health community at large. 

Wendy Wood is director of research of the Temple Grandin Equine Center (TGEC) and professor of equine sciences and occupational therapy at Colorado State University. As the TGEC’s research director, Dr. Wood mentors undergraduate and graduate students (MS and PhD) in research of equine-assisted activities and therapies. Guided by Dr. Wood, these students have partnered with interdisciplinary teams of educators, equine specialists and scientists, health professionals and social scientists to conduct: 1) systematic mapping reviews of literature pertaining to equine-assisted interventions; 2) research of a program of equine-assisted activities for older adults with dementia; 3) and research of equine-assisted occupational therapy for children with autism. Dr. Wood, her collaborators and students have presented their findings at regional, national and international meetings, and also published findings in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, and Journal of Autism and Developmental Disability. 

Dr. Wood serves on the scientific advisory board for Horses and Humans Research Foundation. 


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 https://www.pathintl.org/quick-links/accrediting-tri-certification. 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

Alaska - Carrie Drury, State Chair

Happy Spring from Alaska!

Save the Date and join us for our 2018 Alaska State Conference! This networking and educational event will be held on July 21st at EKG Stables in Chugiak. Earn CEUs with Jenny Nell, a PATH master instructor, and other talent as they share their knowledge and industry expertise! Bring a friend, a volunteer, a mentee, who will benefit from this professional experience of learning to empower our riders with special needs! Make sure to join our PATH Region 9 FB page for more details coming soon!

STRIDE, Inc. Networking and New Horse

It's been an exciting winter for STRIDE Inc in the Mat-Su Valley! Lots of networking going on in anticipation of this summer's program. From the 4H Horse Symposium to presenting at the 100 Plus Women Who Care MatSu Chapter meeting, STRIDE is rubbing elbows and meeting new talent at a rapid rate!

Most exciting news is the addition of a new horse to the herd, Cherokee, pictured here just before our welcoming, get-acquainted “Tea with Cherokee” in late March.


Equine Assisted Therapy Alaska

EATA would like to thank everyone who made the Cowboy Ball so spectacular! There was dining and dancing and with everyone coming out to support EATA's event, funds were raised to help the growth of EAAT industry in Anchorage!

Various non-profit organizations gathered for the Mitzvah ('do a good deed') Mall, including EATA, and it was a joy to talk and network with representatives from each group, and purchase gifts to benefit their missions. A huge thank you to all who participated!

 Alberta/BC - Karen Tanchak, State/Provincial Chair

Message from Karen Tanchak, State/Provincial Chair for BC and Alberta

It is the middle of March and I am beginning to wonder if I am going to see the dirt in my arena by June.


My EAAT horse “Albert” is wondering when he gets to go back to work.

Many of our smaller programs do not have access to an indoor facility so we are dependent on Mother Nature being kind and allowing the warmer and dryer weather to bless us.

Many programs are preparing for the Spring Sessions beginning in April. I know we share the passion of working with our wonderful participants and I encourage all of you to take some photos and share some news in our next newsletter. Let’s raise the profile of our BC and Alberta members and introduce ourselves to our Region 9 peers.

On a more serious note: I need some assistance in creating our State/Provincial Meeting for 2018. I have only heard from one member with ideas for our meeting. Please share with me what you would like to see (demo or education opportunity) in a full day event and at what location (city or facility) and month would be best suited for you. I am hoping that one or two people will be willing to assist me with the planning. You can reach out to me at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.’.

Wishing everyone a Spring in your Step alongside your equine partners!

Idaho - Annie Mabry, State Chair

Message from Annie Mabry, Idaho State Chair

It seems that our Idaho centers stay busy all year long, with new and exciting things happening on a regular basis, so collecting news for our Region 9 Quarterly newsletter was a snap. Thanks to all of you who shared with me.

By the time this newsletter is sent, news of our Idaho State Conference/Meeting should be out and registration open. If you haven’t seen it, please contact me and I will make sure it gets to you. Our 2018 Conference will be held at Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Bellevue, Idaho on Saturday, May 5th. We have an exciting array of topics and some fantastic presenters, so be sure to mark your calendar and join us!

Innovative Therapeutic Riding Program: The Incredible Horse Exhibit

Innovative Therapeutic Riding Program in Idaho Falls has the privilege of being featured in The Incredible Horse exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in Pocatello, ID, which has over 700,000 artifacts catalogued. This exhibit will be on display from January 2018 to January 2019. The exhibit has skeletons that date back 50-0.3 million years ago starting with Hyrarptherium, Mesohippus, Merychippus, Pilohippus, and Equus simplicidens ( The Hagerman Horse). The exhibit also includes examples of modern day usage of horses including ranch work, rodeo, dressage, jumping and equine facilitated activities and therapies. Interesting fact: Did you know the Pony Express was only active for 19 months?

Ride for Joy: TR and Veterans

ride for joyRide for Joy (RFJ) in Emmet, ID. Has kicked off the spring session with both our therapeutic riding and Veterans program. RFJ serves ages 4-104 years old during therapeutic riding, as well as working with the Veteran community to continue to serve and grow the Veterans program at the barn. The 2nd Ruck Up and Rebuild Veterans Retreat (R&R) takes place this May and is designed for veterans to rejuvenate, connect with other veterans and community professionals, try new and healthy activities, and learn coping skills that can be used in every day life. This three day, two night event is free to Veterans. RFJ also introduced a new program in the fall of 2017 called a “One Time Ride”. The program is for those who wonder what it would be like to ride a horse, but may not be able to commit to a full session. 2018 will be another amazing year for both two legged and four legged members of RFJ.

Ride for Joy’s wonderful Veteran’s program!

Rising Stars: Unruly Donkeys and Basketball

rising starsVolunteers from Rising Stars enjoying a rousing game of Donkey Basketball!

Rising Stars, in Twin Falls, ID. took part of one of the most unique fund raisers imagined! On Friday, March 9th Rising Stars volunteers, staff and cooperating therapists participated in the Kimberly FFA Donkey Basketball game. For those who have never played or witnessed such game, it consists of riding gentle but unruly Donkeys up and down an indoor basketball court as you pass the ball, or in some cases curl your body around the ball as your donkey makes it’s way down the court toward the hoop. As in basketball the idea is to score the most points but it is complicated by numerous unknowns along the way. The donkey might duck its head as you lean forward to catch a pass leaving you hovering in mid air befofe crashing to the floor or you might be drug off your trusty steed by an opposing player as they latch onto the ball in attempt to steal it. Some things are for sure; your donkey won’t go where you tell it to with the reins, your donkey won’t go the speed you want it to, and when you jump off the donkey to chase a loose ball he won’t follow behind as you lead him toward the ball. The list goes on and on and the possibility of coming away with several bumps and bruises is likely even for the best of “cowboys”. However, at the end of the night after coming in 2nd in a sudden death overtime championship game all of the Rising Stars players said they would do it again in a heartbeat!

Rising Stars is working hard to get things in order to open for the summer session in their new facility the beginning of June!



running w ranchRunning W Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program: Boaz, Mustangs, Veterans and Seniors

Tracy and Boaz the Mustang

Running W Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program is booming! They have started a new Veterans program, which they are purposely starting slowly as they work hard to get the word out and begin networking with other organizations. Head instructor and Founder, Cyndie Wiltsie, is taking the PATH online Veteran’s course in April to further advance her skills in working with this special population. In April they will be headed to the BLM in Boise to adopt two mustangs to train for the Veterans program. Cyndie states that these mustangs will be a mirror for those struggling with PTSD and trust issues, as you have to be black or white when working with mustangs. There is no gray. Running W already has a fantastic mustang in their program, Boaz, who many of us were able to meet last summer at our Region 9 conference. Cyndie says that a young girl named Tracy who rides Boaz in the hippotherapy program, is doing so well using her whole body to ride. She has Arthrogryposis and Boaz’s wonderful movement and calm temperament is helping her make amazing strides.

seniors and saddles(Left) Senior citizens on their way to the Seniors and Saddle program at Running W Therapeutic Riding Center

 Another great program at Running W is the Seniors and Saddles, I remember when… program. Assisted Living centers in the area bring their residents to a pre arranged 2 hour class where they can interact with the horses on the ground. They have close to 25 participants who come to visit and almost all of them will start with “I remember when…” and then they will tell you their story and are transported back to that special moment in their lives when horses were a part of it. It makes them so happy! They are then treated to a BBQ to continue to socialize and share their special stories.

Running W Seniors and Saddles participants visiting with a new friend!

seniors and saddles1











Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center: Natalie, Bob Woodruff, arena improvements, goodbye Tim

Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center has had a very exciting few months! They announce the addition of Rocky Mountain College graduate and PATH Int’l. Certified instructor, Natalie Sheffer to the team. Natalie completed her summer internship with them this past summer and proved herself as a great fit for their team. They are very excited to see how they can utilize her experience to help them better their program.

Swiftsure just finished up with a successful fund raising event, specifically for growth of their Veterans program. It was a fun evening with ABC reporter Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee as they spoke about their experiences after Bob was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Bob and Lee have created the Bob Woodruff foundation to insure that our injured service members are given the opportunity to thrive in life after service. Lee also joined us for a morning coffee talk as the wife dealing with the ups and downs the family went through – inspirational to say the least!

After 2 years of fundraising, planning and execution, Swiftsure’s previously covered outdoor arena is now FULLY ENCLOSED and in use! They now have the largest building in the county on their property giving them the ability to hold up to 4 – 7 lessons at one time indoors (with both arenas). They would like to THANK all of their generous donors for supporting this project!

With heavy hearts, Swiftsure is announcing the departure of their long time Ranch Manager, Tim Bennett, and would like to thank him for his dedication to not only the ranch but also their program and mission. They are happy to announce tha current Facilities Assistant, Salvador Ruiz, will be taking on the responsibilities of this role.

Swiftsure is looking forward to hosting the Idaho State Conference on May 5th!

Montana - Stephanie Richardson, State Chair

Message from Stephanie Richardson, Montana State Chair

With the ground thawing and the snow melting in Montana, we are gearing up for the Montana State Meeting. We will be joining together June 1 and 2, 2018 at Eagle Mount in Bozeman. Friday night is a social time to get to know other and enjoy everyone's company. Saturday will be focused on education. Your Montana state task force is looking forward to bringing everyone together. Keep an eye out for registration.

Please keep in touch Montana! We are an amazing state with exceptionally talented people that love our horses very much. Looking forward to connecting with everyone!

Sense-Ability School and Eagle Mount-Great Falls Join Forces

sense abilityBoth children and adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and faced every day, even every minute, with sensory struggles, problems with communication—both verbal and nonverbal, repetitive behaviors, fears and compulsions. As one person with ASD put it: Autism feels awful. Adults can’t hold down jobs or have normal relationships; children fail at school and have no friends. Specialized schools have been created to help children receive education in a therapeutic setting where they learn the usual academics but also how to cope in a world that doesn’t understand them. One such school has recently opened its doors in Montana – Sense-Ability School in Great Falls. A group of committed people are dedicated to bringing options and hope to families touched by ASD.

Research has found that the wonderful world of horses can contribute a new world to folks with autism. With that in mind, Sense-Ability School has partnered with Great Falls Eagle Mount to include equine therapy in the school curriculum. Using the triangular treatment team model, the horse, the equine specialist and the mental health therapist partner together to provide a safe learning environment which is specialized to the specific needs of each child.

Children have the opportunity to build relationships with horses— enjoying acceptance from these gentle giants; acceptance is something they often do not experience outside of their own homes. They learn to tolerate sensory stimulation; they learn to tolerate sights, sounds, and smells of the arena. They face their fears in a safe environment. They learn to recognize the boundaries the horses set and how to set their own. They develop balance and coordination while riding. They learn to focus on their environment learning mindfulness skills. They learn about body language and to speak up for their needs. They learn about health and self-care by learning about horse health. They learn new skills which are often scary, and they learn to keep themselves safe while looking out for the safety of others.

We have seen “Mary” tolerate the smell of horse manure. We have seen “Johnny” stand patiently until the horse turned and invited him to come closer, and standing patiently was something he had little success doing previously. “Bobby” learned about sitting up straight and balancing with his arms outstretched as he rode around the arena. “Susan” got to lay her head against the horses belly and listen to the mysterious sounds of the inside of the horse. “Andrew” got to not only learn to halter the horse but to lead her around the arena. “Phillip” got to see horses set boundaries with each other. “Karen” learned it is just fine to speak up and say she was afraid.

Sense-Ability and Eagle Mount-Great Falls are excited to be able to create this learning environment. Our goal is that these children learn in an environment where they are happy and are successful to their full potential. We want to see them grow up to contribute their unique talents and gifts to their community. Our world needs what these kids have to offer, and we want to help them see their possibilities and be all they can be. To learn more about this program, call Sense-Ability School at 406-952-0281.

Oregon - Amanda Garrison, State Chair

Message from Amanda Garrison, Oregon State Chair

The Oregon State Meeting is scheduled for June 1st in Bend at Healing Reins. Please contact Oregon State Chair, Amanda Garrison at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Polly Cohen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested in presenting or if there is something specific you would like to see!

Recently, Senate Bill 1533 and House Bill 4100 passed, allowing equine assisted activities and therapy centers in Oregon to do hippotherapy and equine facilitated psychotherapy on Exclusive Farm Use land, even if the client is not in direct contact with the equine during the entire session. This clarifies vague laws that were restricting client services at centers. Now we can continue to expand programs and better serve our communities.

Healing Reins

(Left) A rainbow “sign.” Healing Reins has started a collaboration with Treehouse Therapies Associate, with a farm clinic onsite at Healing Reins. With the barn on the left and the clinic on the right mere steps away from each other, this is therapeutic services at its best.

(Right) Hollie and Hope participate in Dr. Seuss week at Healing Reins

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forward stride

 Forward Stride

Forward Stride welcomed a new member into their herd, a Haflinger gelding named Bennie. With his extensive driving experience, Bennie will help Forward Stride move forward with adding a carriage driving program.

Forward Stride’s Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy program added a 10 week Women’s Trauma Group. This group will provide support, aid in trauma processing, and promote healing in a safe group environment.

Forward Stride just hosted a very successful auction and gala. It was their most successful event yet. The event was also attended by Oregon Governor, Kate Brown. 


Washington - Teresa Bron, East WA State Chair, West WA State Chair Devon Stone

Message from Teresa Bron, Eastern WA State Chair:

I will be contacting centers to visit them whenever I’m in the area. We have also added Devon Stone from Little Bit to help with the western side of the state as the western State Chair. Hopefully this will help us to reach out to everyone in our PATH Intl. centers in the State of Washington!

See you all in Ellensburg at Spirit Therapeutic on June 1 and 2, 2018 for our WA State Meeting,

Teresa Bron
Equine Coordinator/Instructor
Pegasus Project Yakima

New Indoor Area in Yakima

We have had a remodel to our indoor arena here at Pegasus Project in Yakima. We added an enclosed playroom for the kids, and the parents can sit in there to watch lessons as well. It’s heated so we can keep our parents and family members/ care givers more comfortable during the winter season. We had our annual Spurs fundraiser in January and we were very successful in raising funds again this year, so we have some nice projects planned ahead.

One of those projects is a Carriage Driving Demo this fall for people who are interested in becoming either an Able Bodied Whip for a therapeutic driving program or for drivers who may want to even get PATH Intl. certified.

Honoring Volunteers at Equest Special Riders

Equest Special Riders Inc. of Tacoma, WA has been in existence since 1982 and is our featured program in WA state for this newsletter. Here is a wonderful story of how they honor their volunteers:

Our program has been through many volunteers, horses and riders. For the last 4 years we have been celebrating our volunteers for all the time they’ve put in to volunteering at Equest Special Riders Inc. and to show them just how much we appreciate them.

On February 10, 2018, we celebrated 30 Volunteers (not all present) and 8 board members (also not all present) with a total of 2967 Hours volunteered for the 2017 year. Everyone receives a certificate no matter the amount of hours they have volunteered. We also give out items according to the bracket of hours that the volunteers fall under.

The top 3 volunteers with the most hours got a vest with our logo, their name and the year embroidered on it. Volunteers with anywhere between 1-25 hours receive a trophy and a key chain with our logo engraved on it. Volunteers in between those hours got beanies, hoodies or jackets according to their hours volunteered. The Vice President of the board presented the awards. We had at least 20 of our volunteers show up, some with family, to celebrate with food, beverages, beverages and reminiscing on the previous year. We plan to continue celebrating our volunteers every year so that they know we truly appreciate all their hard work.

Little Bit Starts New Literacy Program: Pages with Pete

little bitLittle Bit Therapeutic Riding Center is starting a new literacy therapy program! Pages with Pete will be led by Leslie Delorenzi, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist and licensed Dyslexia Therapist. The group will consist of pre-reading activities such as listening, rhyming, and syllable awareness. (Skills will be tailored to the needs of the group). This fun group will feature active play in the clinic and arena with Pete, our mini horse.

1. is developmentally at the age of 4 or 5 (but chronologically no older than 8 years old)
2. is able to sit and attend for 10-15 minute periods of time.
3. is able to follow directions and complete age-appropriate work, such as crafts, with some independence.
4. is able to appropriately engage with similarly-aged peers.

1. Listening skills
2. Rhyme recognition
3. Hearing words in sentences
4. Awareness of syllables


ainslieEnter the 2016 PATH Intl. Photo Contest and Win!

Win a free registration for the 2016 PATH Intl. Conference and Annual Meeting or other fabulous prizes

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) is often asked to provide photos to print and online publications for publication in stories about equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). In addition, we always need good photos for PATH Intl. publications, including PATH Intl. Strides, social media and the website.

Gain greater exposure for your center while seeing your photos in Strides, eNews and the website! (Pictured on right: Ainslie Alley who rides at SIRE, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Hockley Texas, proudly displays the Strides magazine that featured her on the cover.)

So set your digital camera or phone at its highest resolution and take your best active photos of your center's riders, equines, volunteers and professionals. Show us your center's driving, interactive vaulting, group activities, teamwork and more! Be creative; there is no limiting your inner photographer.


Photos must be at least 300 dpi

Photos must be at least 4 x 6 inches. (Photos for the cover of Strides need to be 8.5 x 11 inches.)

Photos should be in .tif, .jpg, .eps or .pdf formats.

Photos must not be manipulated (no added frames, borders, filters, text, etc.).


Print, complete and sign an entry form to accompany each photo or video you submit.

Mail a CD or flashdrive of the photos with photo credit and a completed separate entry form for each, postmarked no later than June 30, 2016. Or email Cher Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Winners will be announced in PATH Intl. eNews in July!

Contest is open to PATH Intl. members and the staff and volunteers of PATH Intl. Member Centers. National headquarter PATH Intl. staff and their immediate families are not eligible for prizes. Disclaimer: All photos will be checked by the PATH Intl. technical specialist. Any photo not compliant with PATH Intl. standards will be disqualified.

Mail to:
PATH Intl. Photo Contest
Attn: Cher Smith
PO Box 33150
Denver, CO 80233

Or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2008-120Photo Releases

Photo releases are required for each photo submission.

The individual entering the PATH Intl. photo contest must sign the PATH Intl. photo release form.

In addition, if there are humans in your submitted photograph, there must be a release form submitted for each individual. Most PATH Intl. member centers keep a photo release on file for each participant, volunteer and staff member. If your release covers PATH Intl. promotional use of the submitted photo’s participants, staff or volunteers, please feel free to submit a copy of those forms with the entry. If your center does not keep a photo release file, please have all individuals pictured complete the PATH Intl. photo release form and include it with your entry form. Click here to download a photo release form.

If you are using a photo from a professional photographer, you will need permission to enter the photo and will need to note photo credit. The photographer will need to sign a photo release.





2016 International Conference registration (up to $725 value)

$25 gift certificate to PATH Intl. Pro Shop

Publication of photo on the cover of an upcoming issue of PATH Intl. Strides

Framed photo

Reserve Champion

$100 PATHBucks*

$25 gift certificate to PATH Intl. Pro Shop

Publication of photo

Framed photo

Honorable Mention

$25 gift certificate to PATH Intl. Pro Shop

Publication of photo

Framed photo

*PATHBucks are like receiving a gift certificate that can be applied to your association purchases, memberships or applications (center and individual), PATH Intl. educational materials, including videos and online courses, and PATH Intl. conference registrations (international and regional).

Quality Assurance

The PATH Intl. Quality Assurance Task Force, assembled to address professional ethics, professional discipline, conflicts of interest, grievances, and appeals to determine and implement best practices in testing and training, in association governance and in the stewardship of our members, announces a new grievance filing process.

The policy states PATH Intl. Members will be subject to a fair and reasonable disciplinary and expulsion procedure to be carried out in good faith, effective January 1, 2015.

Questions should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., PATH Intl. Membership Manager.

PATH Intl. Review Panel

The PATH Intl. Grievance Review Panel is being established. Questions should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., PATH Intl. Membership Manager.

PATH Intl Grievance Review Panel Purpose

The review panel will implement policies and procedures with respect to grievances against PATH Intl. members, certificants, evaluators, site visitors, faculty, instructors, mentors and member centers. The panel will be responsible for the review and resolution of grievances. Resolution may include disciplinary action including termination of membership, removal of certification and removal of accreditation or removal of accreditation subject to the right to appeal the panel’s decision.

PATH Intl. Grievance Review Panel Composition

The panel will be made up of three to five members: a Chair appointed by the President of the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees, at least one individual member who holds certification from PATH Intl., and at least one representative of a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center. A PATH Intl. staff member will be a non-voting member of the committee. PATH Intl. legal counsel will be consulted as necessary.

Process for Filing Grievances

Who may file a grievance?

Grievances may be filed by a member of the public, a member center member, a site visitor, faculty, evaluator, certificants, mentors or an individual PATH Intl. member. Complainants must have firsthand knowledge of the grievance issue. In situations where there is a legal or licensing agency action that could be considered a violation of the Code of Ethics, the Chair of the Grievance Review Panel may file a grievance on behalf of PATH Intl.

Against whom may grievances be filed?

PATH Intl. members, member centers, instructors, certificants, site visitors, evaluators, mentors and faculty.

What is a grievance?

Grievances are violations of the PATH Intl. Code of Ethics or a PATH Intl. Standard as adopted by the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees from time to time.  

What is not a grievance?

Hearsay, employer/employee disputes, and grievances against nonmembers or nonmember centers.

How to file a grievance

Grievances must be submitted in writing, signed by the complainant and must use the official grievance form found here. A form may also be requested by writing, emailing, or calling the PATH Intl. office. Grievance forms may be sent to the office by email or by mail. Additional information may be requested by the Grievance Review Panel in order to investigate the grievance. The email or outer envelope shall be marked “Confidential – Grievance.” The address and email for submitting a grievance is located on the grievance form. Supplemental information may also be sent in addition to the official grievance form.  

Who will process a grievance?

Grievances will be received by PATH Intl. staff, logged and reviewed for completeness. Once this process is completed, the grievance will be forwarded to the Grievance Review Panel assigned by the President of the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees.


The PATH Intl. office will send a written acknowledgement of receipt of the grievance form within 10 business days. Additional acknowledgement will be sent from the Grievance Review Panel upon resolution of the matter.


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Additional Sponsors

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