2020 Virtual Conference

The PATH Intl. Virtual Conference is a gathering of ideas, minds and hearts. Instructors, therapists, researchers, administrators, volunteers, dreamers, makers, movers-and-shakers. It has grown over the last four years to one of the association’s most anticipated equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) focused events.

If you have not yet experienced the virtual conference, it is the perfect opportunity to share, collaborate and gather with a global audience of EAAT professionals from the comfort of your home office. Whether you are new to PATH Intl. or consider yourself a seasoned professional, the 2020 virtual conference will engage, energize and offer practical skills and guidance to support the rigorous requirements of being an EAAT professional. This conference is more than two days of learning, it is an opportunity for you to join us May 7th & 8th to connect with a team that will help you move mountains!

2020 Conference

May 7-8
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Twelve CEUs are available. See the sessions below for the breakdown of CEUs.


Presenters & Sessions

Day 1

Greeting - Kathy Alm, CEO, PATH International

Welcome - Amber Bratt, Virtual Conference Moderator, PATH International

Session 1: DE

Building Resiliency: Combining Social-Emotional Learning and Equine Assisted Learning for youth at risk

Tamara Merritt

Many youth today are experiencing great challenges, which ultimately can undermine their long-term well-being and health. These challenges include living in poverty, exposure to trauma and adversity resulting from insecure access to housing, food, health care, and safety. All children need supportive relationships and nurturing learning environments, but students facing additional stress have a greater need to be surrounded by caring adults who treat them as individuals with potential and inherent worth. When adults create this environment, children of every background can thrive at school, home and beyond. A recent report from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development states that, “social, emotional and academic skills are all essential to success in school, careers, and in life, and they can be effectively learned in the context of trusted ties to caring and competent adults.”

To address this need for social emotional learning in a nurturing environment, our center created an experiential program combining Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) which has engaged 10 schools over the course of three years for full day programming. Youth at risk learn SEL skills both in the classroom and in the arena to increase self and social awareness, relationship skills, decision-making, and self-regulation. These skills are developed using activities explicitly designed to augment the riding and ground work sessions with the horses.

Live Q& A with presenter

Session 2: DE

Working with Parents During Stressful Times: Impact of Ambiguous Loss

Karyn Searcy & Kaitlyn Siewert

The purpose of this presentation is to review the development of parent-child (p-c) interaction from ages 0-3, and how that process is often impacted by the discovery that your child has a developmental disability or delay. We will compare and contrast the traditional trajectory of p-c interaction and the impact any diagnosis may have on families. Pamela Boss studied ambiguous loss in the ’70s, including her work with families experiencing lack of closure following the loss of a loved one through Alzheimer's disease and related losses. Her discussions provide a strong framework for understanding the process our families experience when they sense or determine that their children have a life-impacting developmental disability or differences. We will discuss typical development, the evolution of becoming a parent, typical communication development and how engaging their children in therapeutic horseback riding can help normalize their experiences as well as facilitate language skills.

Live Q& A with presenter

Session 3: DE

Facilitating Communication & Interaction: Collaborating with Speech-Language Pathologists

Karyn Searcy & Kaitlyn Siewert

This presentation will highlight philosophical and strategic supports included in traditional speech-language therapy sessions and how they can be integrated into therapeutic riding, including playful obstruction and communicative temptations. It will define typical caregiver-child interaction and how families are impacted when initially discovering their children have a developmental disability. We will include video-taped interviews with parents reflecting on their initial responses to a diagnosis and review Pamela Bass’ work on “ambiguous loss” to help define the process, which is critical knowledge to be aware of when working with families. Also included will be videotaped examples of how the collaboration works and some pre- and post-outcomes. Data collection will also be explored, in addition to discussing how families participating in therapeutic riding are often impacted by seeing their children experience a recreational activity.

Live Q& A 


Session 4: CE

Driving Center Sustainability through Trust-Based Leadership Programming

Jeff Arnold

Are you looking for ways to add funding to support your center's mission and sustainability without disrupting current programming, without adding staff/volunteers, and without adding stress to the horses? Do you long for a way to help your center’s workers and volunteers see a longer term career path at the center, and want to stay longer? Have you been struggling to find a way to get local visibility and donations at your center? The answer is right under your nose: learn how to bring in local companies/organizations for 1-day workshops on relevant leadership topics, such as Trust-Based Leadership, and generate funding for your center’s sustainability! You already know how to build trust with horses – so let’s teach local organizations the parallels between building trust with horses and building trust with people. Companies are willing to pay top dollar to learn trust-based leadership concepts in an experiential way, as this has been proven to drive significant benefits for companies and organizations. 

In this session we will share an Equine-Assisted Leadership Development methodology proven in multiple PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Centers to help centers offer and provide trust-based leadership workshops for local organizations (corporate/professional), colleges/universities, veterans, and at-risk youth. The methodology focuses on advancing an individual or team’s trust-based leadership skills using Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) – assisting organizations and society to develop better and more trust-based leaders while creating a unique and innovative additional revenue stream for your center. 

Live Q& A with presenter


Session 5: CE

Play to Your Strengths! Generate Sustainability Funding through Strengths-Based Leadership Workshops

Jeff Arnold

Strengths-Based Leadership (SBL) theory (also known as Strengths-Based Organizational Management or SBOM) is a method of maximizing the efficiency, productivity, and success of an organization by focusing on and continuously developing the strengths of organizational resources, such as people, processes, and technology. At the core of SBL is the underlying belief that people have several times more potential for growth building on their strengths rather than fixing their weaknesses. Gallup data shows that employees who have the opportunity to understand and use their strengths every day are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs, and their engagement level affects how they care for customers. A “strength” is defined as the ability to exhibit near-perfect performance consistently in a given activity. Strengths-based organizations don’t ignore weaknesses, but rather, focuses on building talents and strengths and minimizing the negative effects of weaknesses. Strengths-based leaders are always investing in their strengths and the strengths of individuals on their team. Strengths-based leadership theory is supported by over 30 years of research from the Gallup organization and others. In addition, its core beliefs overlap a variety of other developing theories in personal and organizational psychology including positive psychology and appreciative inquiry.

Live Q& A with presenter


Session 1: CR All Certs

Equine Communication: Emerging Research, Common Misconceptions and Understanding Behavioral Indicators of Welfare

Chrissy Rudd & Emily Kieson

Do you really understand what your horse is communicating? This presentation covers some existing and emerging research in equine communication and how we, as practitioners, can improve equine welfare through greater understanding of horse behavioral strategies. The concepts discussed apply to horse-horse and horse-human interactions both in and out of sessions.

Live Q&A with presenters


Session 2: CR All Certs

Five Roles of a Master Herder: Leadership Lesson for Equine Professionals

Lori Cohen

Linda Kohanov has explored "the way of the horse", an experiential wisdom gained by studying the non-predatory power of horses. Through this presentation, horse-inspired insights have been developed into useful tools for developing collaborative leadership and managing change. 

"Master Herders" (from nomadic herding cultures) have developed a multifaceted, socially intelligent form of leadership combining the five roles of Dominant, Leader, Sentinel, Nurturer / Companion, and Predator. The interplay of these roles allows interspecies communities to move across vast landscapes, dealing with predators and changing climates, protecting and nurturing the herd while keeping massive, gregarious, often aggressive animals together. This is accomplished without the benefit of fences and with very little reliance on restraint. 

An innovative assessment tool will be provided to help determine which roles you currently utilize, over emphasize and ignore. You will learn to recognize, cultivate and utilize all five roles in your programs, family and in other social avenues.

Live Q& A with presenter


Session 3: DE

Beyond Riding: Healing the After-Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment

Trish Broersma


Live Q& A with Denise Krause or Trish Broersma


Session 4: CR All Certs

Evaluating Horses' Pain, Posture and Saddle Fit

Rhonda Martin

All participants will learn basic equine anatomy and visual assessment techniques for evaluating equine musco-skeletal pain, learn to identify equine posture and compensation, symmetry-asymmetry. This workshop will demonstrate to participants how to view and create visual guidelines for assessing horses for pain, comfort and saddle fit.

Live Q& A with presenter


Session 5: CR

H.O.P.E. - Horses Offering People Experiences for LIFE 

Michele McColm, Vallerie Sweeton, Jessica Mullin
An innovative equine facilitated psychotherapy program will be discovered from a group therapy approach ...ALL from the ground up. Program steps will be presented from both a didactic and experiential format. Participants will take a look at the research within the field of domestic violence of women, rationale for group therapy, and rationale for the equine therapy approach. Assessment tools will be discussed, regarding pre & post-screening tools, as well as, Hope evaluations at each session. Marketing strategies will be uncovered. Finally, the H.O.P.E. equine facilitated group therapy format for the eight-week series will be described in detail, both didactically and experientially over our 2-hours together in the barn with horses and friends in the field. 


What attendees of past virtual conferences had to say:
"I am not able to attend national conferences very often, or at all, so this was a great resource and help in allowing me to get some CEUs. The networking was also amazing."
"Thank you for the flexibility of watching the presentations later, we had lessons and could not watch it live. I look forward to more virtual conferences!"
"Overall, I was impressed with how well organized and smoothly everything ran. I feel much more connected to the organization now than ever."





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Additional Sponsors

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