Awards

Nominate your center's exceptional humans and horses

The nomination process has been simplified and is ongoing. Click here for nomination forms. Any nominations received after the deadline of the current year will be considered for the next year.

All winners for 2017 will be recognized at the 2017 PATH Intl. Conference and Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon in San Antonio, TX, Friday, November 10, 2017.

2017 Award Winners
2016 Award Winners

2015 Award Winners
2014 Award Winners

2013 Award Winners

2012 Award Winners

2011 Award Winners
2010 Award Winners

2009 Award Winners

2017 PATH Intl. Award Winners

Congratulations 2017 PATH Intl. Exemplary Award Winners!

2017 National Award Winners

Click on the national winner's name to be taken to the bio.

Premier Accredited Centers are in red.

 harold peplau adult

2017 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian Award
Harold Peplau
Region 4
Michigan Abilities Center Equine Assisted Therapy
Ann Arbor, MI

 charles finney youth

2017 PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian Award
Charles Finney
Region 3
Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program
Greenville, NC

duane coombs es4h 

2017 PATH International Equine Services for Heroes® Equestrian Award
Duane Coombs
Region 10
Children Horses and Adults in Partnership Equine Assisted Therapy (CHAPS)
Sheridan, WY

 

 reg 7 equine hank

2017 PATH Intl. Equine of the Year Award
Co-Sponsored by: Purina and The Equus Foundation
Region 7
BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center
Harvard, IL


reg 2 prof kelly slonaker

2017 PATH Intl. Certified Professional of the Year Award
Kelly Slonaker
Region 2
Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship, Inc.
Bedford, NY

 reg 3 vol daryl holland

2017 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year Award
Sponsored by AIM/Equine Network
Daryl Holland
Region 3
EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program
Virginia Beach, VA


 reg 1 vet jerilyn jacobs

2017 PATH Intl. Veterinarian of the Year Award
Sponsored by Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, makers of Adequan
Dr. Jerilyn Jacobs
Region 1
Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center
Wilmington, VT

 

2017 Region Award Winners

PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Centers are in red.

 

Region 1

Equine of the Year Latino High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
Old Lyme, CT
Credentialed Professional of the Year Lauren Kochakian

UpReach Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc.

Goffstown, NH
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Jerilyn Jacobs Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center Wilmington, VT
Volunteer of the Year Nancy Sheridan Emerald Hollow Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. Brewster, MA
Region 2
Equine of the Year Lucy Therapeutic Riding at Centenary Hackettstown, NJ
Credentialed Professional of the Year Kelly Slonaker Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship, Inc. Bedford, NY
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Alexandra Bernard LeCheval Stable, Inc. Glenwood, MD
Volunteer of the Year Sandra Wolinski Access Equestrian Bedford, NY
Region 3
Equine of the Year Heavenly Details (Happy) Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program Clifton, VA
Credentialed Professional of the Year Margaret Muenzer NC Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. Mebane, NC
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Jay Joyce Loudoun Therapeutic Riding, Inc. Leesburg, VA
Volunteer of the Year Daryl Holland EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program Virginia Beach, VA
Region 4
Equine of the Year Chico

Central Kentucky Riding for Hope

Lexington, KY
Credentialed Professional of the Year Jan Vescelius Therapeutic Riding, Inc. Ann Arbor, MI
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Chris Payton Reins of Life, Inc. South Bend, IN
Volunteer of the Year Nate Miller Reins of Life, Inc. South Bend, IN
Region 5
Equine of the Year Tessie Colby's Army Nashville, TN
Credentialed Professional of the Year Melissa Yarbrough Inspire Equine Therapy Program Clearwater, FL
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Cody Wohlman Chastain Horse Park Atlanta, GA
Volunteer of the Year Robert Light Colby's Army Nashville, TN
Region 6
Equine of the Year Dun Tap (Tapper) Special Methods in Learning Equine Skills (SMILES) Darien, WI
Credentialed Professional of the Year Joan Berg River Valley Riders Woodbury, MN
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Gary Quimby RideAbility Pine Island, MN
Volunteer of the Year Dan Henning Three Gaits, Inc. Oregon, WI
Region 7
Equine of the Year Hank BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center Harvard, IL
Credentialed Professional of the Year NA NA NA
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Jessica Harrison Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding Center Witchita, KS
Volunteer of the Year NA NA NA
Region 8
Equine of the Year Bud SIRE Therapeutic Horsemanship Houston, TX
Credentialed Professional of the Year Charlynn Bradford Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center of East Texas Longview, TX
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Beau Whitaker R.O.C.K. Ride on Center for Kids Georgetown, TX
Volunteer of the Year Jackie McDonald JoyRide Center, Inc. Magnolia, TX
Region 9
Equine of the Year Sherman (Sherbert) Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center Redmond, WA
Credentialed Professional of the Year Evelyn Jones Spirit Therapeutic Riding Center Ellensburg, WA
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Robert Fleck Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center Redmond, WA
Volunteer of the Year Debbie Bacon Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center Redmond, WA
Region 10
Equine of the Year Dean Horses Help Phoenix, AZ
Credentialed Professional of the Year Marci Bender National Ability Center Park City, UT
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Sarah Schreiber Children Horses and Adults in PartnerShip Equine Assisted Therapies (CHAPS) Sheridan, WY
Volunteer of the Year Carole Miller Horses Help Phoenix, AZ
Region 11
Equine of the Year Jerry DreamPower Horsemanship San Martin, CA
Credentialed Professional of the Year Cherie Page DreamPower Horsemanship San Martin, CA
Veterinarian of the Year Tri-County Veterinary Hospital DreamPower Horsemanship San Martin, CA
Volunteer of the Year Antonella Wolf DreamPower Horsemanship San Martin, CA

Bios

Duane Coombs

When Duane Coombs, a Korean War veteran, first came to CHAPS, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Sheridan, Wyoming, he was out of breath from walking from the car to the barn, and he always walked with a cane. He wanted to begin riding because he hated using his cane to walk. After several weeks, he used the cane less as his posture and balance improved, and he groomed and walked his horse into the arena without becoming out of breath.

Duane always has a huge smile on his face and he is an ardent advocate for the center, urging all his friends and neighbors to give riding a try. His favorite thing to do is trot.

One volunteer said, “He had a hard time getting off to the mounting ramp. As the year progressed I watched as he gained confidence and strength while riding. Then his instructor asked if he wanted to get off to the ground or to the ramp. He said he would love to try it to the ground. He swung his leg over the horse’s neck and slid down the side of the horse with assistance from the instructor. He was impressed with himself as he did something he didn’t know was possible.” His instructor said, “He is a pleasure to teach.” Another said, “He is exceptional. There is not a single lesson or goal that stands out because as a whole, he is amazing.”

We are proud to name Duane Coombs the PATH International Equine Services for Heroes Equestrian of the Year. Congratulations, sir, and thank you for your service.

Charles Finney

“Quiet” and “shy” at one time described this young man, who was told that he may never be able to walk. Those words no longer fit Charles Finney, who now walks, rides his horse independently and stands on the horse while vaulting. His core muscles and upper body strength have improved. As one instructor said, “It is amazing to see the difference from the beginning to now.” He is outgoing and connected to his equestrian friends and has a love and passion for horses that is infectious. In fact, at times that’s all he talks about!

Charles wants to do great things, including wanting to compete in the State Equestrian Special Olympics. His instructors at Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Greenville, North Carolina, think he can do anything he puts his mind to. One said, “Charles continues to be a source of inspiration for others and always wants to learn new things, to crush new goals. He is a participant I look up to!” For someone so young, he has his goals set and is shooting for them thanks to his love of equines.

He comes in with an outstanding attitude, getting his horse ready for lessons and helping others in his vaulting group. “He always projects what we look for in an amazing participant.”

We are proud to name Charles the PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian of the Year.

Hank

The list is long of those who call Hank best friend. Through his 20 years at BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center, a PATH Intl. PAC in Harvard, Illinois, Hank has helped thousands of children, adults and veterans on every level. He works softly with every person he meets, all heart, all try. Always.

Twelve years ago, a distraught mother approached the center after a horrific car accident left one child dead and another child with a severe traumatic brain injury. The young girl regained strength, balance, hope and purpose through her connection with Hank. Now at 19, she has won Special Olympics medals, has a love for riding, and most importantly has a best friend who always carried her through.

He is constantly changing the lives of the individuals served at BraveHearts. From standing quietly while a young child who is suicidal brushes and repeatedly hugs him to allowing a veteran who uses a wheelchair to ride freely as he leads a wild mustang, Hank helps them reach their goals and dreams. Most recently, he was the riderless horse at the center’s founder’s funeral service. In the rain, he waited patiently still as people paid their respects. As the casket came, he raised his neck, pricked his ears and stood perfectly square at salute with a veteran holding him. On that day, it seemed he knew the impact of the heavy call of duty.

As one said, “Hank is the most extraordinary horse, making our center and each participant better every single day.”

For these reasons and many more, Hank is the PATH Intl. Equine of the Year.

Daryl Holland

Daryl Holland has been a part of EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program in Virginia Beach since its inception more than 25 years ago. His daughter was one of this premier accredited center’s first riders when Daryl was on active duty in the Navy. After she grew up and stopped riding, Daryl continued with his service because he wanted to help the next generations of riders and their families. He has performed every task associated within the program—sidewalker, horse leader, groomer, team leader, and facilities maintenance, and has been instrumental in the development, construction and maintenance of several miles of trails through dense woods.

One person said, “He is the first one to show up during any crisis, whether it’s weather, facility, horse or people related. He is also the last to leave. He is always the first to offer comfort, hugs, spiritual support, physical support, financial support (sometimes to the dismay of his wife) and especially a joke. The only payment he looks for is in the candy dish—we keep it plenty stocked! “

Another said, “Daryl is a tremendous support system and a great comfort to us all to know that we are never alone—he will be there. He has always been and will always be a father figure to all of us. His commitment and dedication to our organization is above reproach. There is no one more deserving of the award and recognition.”

Daryl, it is an honor to name you the PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year.

Dr. Jerilyn Jacobs

Sometimes it is difficult to define what makes a vet special. But in the case of Dr. Jerilyn Jacobs, the words come easy. Dr. Jacobs, who cares for the equine partners at Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center in Wilmington, Vermont, is an advocate for the center, looking for ways to promote the center and its mission. She helps to keep expenses low and yet the treatment of the animals is always exemplary. When she joined the board of directors, she enrolled the center in the nonprofit discount program her clinic offers to better allocate the center’s funds. She also searches for tack and equipment the center might need and donates these items to the center.

As one person at the center said, “She doesn’t just give of her time (though that is important) and her expertise (though that has been invaluable). She brings creativity, thoughtfulness, love of animals, and consistent good humor with people to everything she does. As anyone who has served on a perennially-underfunded nonprofit board knows, these are traits that keep us going during the rough times and remind us of the importance and joy animals give.” Another said, “Through her advocacy and dedication to our program, we are able to save hundreds of dollars every year, and our equine partners can continue to perform at their best and make a difference in the lives of each of our participants.”

Congratulations, Dr. Jacobs, on being named the PATH Intl. Veterinarian of the Year.

Harold Peplau

Harold Peplau, at 93, is likely to be one of the oldest riders at a PATH Intl. center. But you’d never know it from his enthusiasm, his interest in the people around him and his positive attitude. In 2012, he arrived at Michigan Abilities Center Equine Assisted Therapy in Ann Arbor to observe sessions and offered to donate funds for a radiant heat system so the center could better serve riders year round. His balance at the time was precarious and so he began riding. It helped him improve his agility, balance, coordination, core strength, rotational movement and gait. As a result, his endurance improved.

He stays right with the younger riders, encouraging them to do their best. When participants see him overcoming difficult tasks, they feel they can do it too. The other riders look up to him and are determined to do their best to keep pace with him and show him their best effort, and he takes a keen interest in their accomplishments.

Harold is also known for his philanthropy, generously supporting local food banks, shelters and therapeutic riding centers, finding ways to give to others in need. He is a role model for college students to keep active throughout life and give back to others. As one volunteer said, “He masters tasks that would normally be considered impossible for someone of his age. It is incredible to see him ride backwards, playing catch or juggling balls while in motion. He makes it look easy!"

It is easy for us to name Harold the PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian of the Year.

Kelly Slonaker

We could tell you about Kelly Slonaker’s certifications: she’s a Registered Instructor and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. We could tell you that she works at Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship, a premier accredited center in Bedford, New York. We could tell you why we think she’s special. But instead, listen to her participants.

“Every week when I get to the barn and see Kelly, I feel an immediate sense of relief. She takes me out of my world of isolation, misunderstanding and disease and brings me back to life. Her warmth, understanding and genuine kindness not only make her an exceptional therapeutic riding instructor but an exceptional person and friend. Her instruction, guidance and extensive knowledge of her field have increased my love for riding and expanded my knowledge of the sport. I know I will be a lifelong rider because of her.”

One mother said, “My globally apraxic child had never been on a horse. Kelly immediately made my daughter feel comfortable, safe and empowered! Kelly was sensitive to her needs, accommodated her instruction, and worked toward the goals she set out for her. I now watch my child command the horse, her voice is heard! I now watch my child strongly lift her hips and post, hold the reins tightly, where she had a weakened grip before. I am so impressed with this instructor because my child feels her care. This instructor has been a true gift to our family and we feel lucky to have her on our team.”

We couldn’t have said it better. Congratulations, Kelly, on being named the PATH Intl. Credentialed Professional of the Year.

 

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Additional Sponsors

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