Congratulations 2018 PATH Intl. Exemplary Award Winners!

2018 National Award Winners

Premier Accredited Centers are in red.

adult equestrian sharon daspit

2018 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian Award
Sharon Daspit
Region 8
Healing With Horses Ranch
Manor, TX

youth equestrian kenbe rogers 

2018 PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian Award
Kenbe Rogers
Region 5
Saddle Up!
Franklin, TN

ES4H kristie weems 

2018 PATH International Equine Services for Heroes® Equestrian Award
Kristie Weems
Region 8
REACH Therapeutic Riding Center
McGregor, TX

 james brady winner barbara rector

2018 PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award 
Barbara Rector
egion 10
Adventures in Awareness, LLC
Tucson, AZ 

reg 4 equine petey

2018 PATH Intl. Equine of the Year Award
Co-Sponsored by: Purina and The EQUUS Foundation
 Region 4
Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship
Milford, OH

reg 6 prof cheryl holt

2018 PATH Intl. Certified Professional of the Year Award
Cheryl Holt
Region 6
River Valley Riders
Woodbury, MN

 reg 3 vol ellen glover

2018 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year Award
Sponsored by AIM/Equine Network
Ellen Glover
Region 3
Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program
Greenville, NC

reg 8 vet bill mitchell

2018 PATH Intl. Veterinarian of the Year Award
Sponsored by Luitpold Pharmaceuticals
 Dr. Bill Mitchell
Region 8
The Right Path Riding Academy
Drumright, OK


2018 PATH Intl. Presidents Award
Susan Lutz
Region 5
Membership Outreach Committee Chair



2018 Region Award Winners

PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Centers are in red.


Region 1

Equine of the Year Watson UpReach Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Inc.
Goffstown, NH
Credentialed Professional of the Year Lindley Fransioli

Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation, Inc.

North Andover, MA
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Kirsten Glass High Horses Therapeutic Riding Program Sharon, VT
Volunteer of the Year Jacqueline Kangley High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. Old Lyme, CT
Region 2
Equine of the Year Moose EquiCenter, Inc. Honeoye Falls, NY
Credentialed Professional of the Year Renee Dixon Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program Port Deposit, MD
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Laura Faulkner Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship, Inc. Bedford, NY
Volunteer of the Year Barbara Stickney EquiCenter, Inc. Honeoye Falls, NY
Region 3
Equine of the Year Peanut Horse & Buddy New Hill, NC
Credentialed Professional of the Year Malaika Albrecht Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program Greenville, NC
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Sally Vivrette Horses for Hope TRC, Inc. and
NC Therapeutic Riding Center
Raleigh, NC
Mebane, NC
Volunteer of the Year Ellen Glover Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program Greenville, NC
Region 4
Equine of the Year Petey

Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship

Milford, OH
Credentialed Professional of the Year Cindy Redolfi The Therapeutic Riding Institute Centerville, OH
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Ryan Zimmerman Riders Unlimited, Inc. Oak Harbor, OH
Volunteer of the Year Darlene Bell Dreams on Horseback Blacklick, OH
Region 5
Equine of the Year Willie McCormick Research Institute St. Cloud, FL
Credentialed Professional of the Year Mandy Branton Chastain Horse Park Atlanta, GA
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Eric Martin Shangri-la Therapeutic Academy of Riding Lenoir City, TN
Volunteer of the Year Kathy Edgell Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, Inc. Ocala, FL
Region 6
Equine of the Year Bud HorseSense for Special Riders La Crosse, WI
Credentialed Professional of the Year Cheryl Holt River Valley Riders Woodbury, MN
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. John Froning Equul Access, Inc. Hutchinson, MN
Volunteer of the Year Christine Cavanaugh Equul Access, Inc. Hutchinson, MN
Region 7
Equine of the Year Waldo Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy Gretna, NE
Credentialed Professional of the Year Jamie Janssen-Casey BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center Harvard, IL
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Jim McCaslin Friends for Therapeutic Equine Activities Wayne, IL
Volunteer of the Year Sheila North Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy Gretna, NE
Region 8
Equine of the Year Miss R.O.C.K. Ride on Center for Kids Georgetown, TX
Credentialed Professional of the Year Joy Ferguson Compadres Therapy, Inc. El Paso, TX
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Bill Mitchell The Right Path Riding Academy Drumright, OK
Volunteer of the Year Laurie Cox The Right Path Riding Academy Drumright, OK
Region 9
Equine of the Year Shahar Forward Stride Beaverton, OR
Credentialed Professional of the Year Dana Eklund Eagle Mount - Bozeman Bozeman, MT
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Gary Cook Eagle Mount - Bozeman Bozeman, MT
Volunteer of the Year Mike Bozzo NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center Bellingham, WA
Region 10
Equine of the Year Cola Hearts and Horses, Inc. Loveland, CO
Credentialed Professional of the Year Alejandra Lara National Ability Center Park City, UT
Veterinarian of the Year Colorado Equine Veterinary Services Pikes Peak Theapeutic Riding Center Elbert, CO
Volunteer of the Year Jane O'Hearn Silver Lining Riding Program Surprise, AZ
Region 11
Equine of the Year Winnie Saddle Pals Therapeutic Center - UCP Sacramento, CA
Credentialed Professional of the Year Lisa Cotta-Meek Happy Trails Riding Academy Tulare, CA
Veterinarian of the Year Dr. Richard Markell The J.F. Shea Center for Therapeutic Riding San Juan Capistrano, CA
Volunteer of the Year Jean Kvamme Lichen Oaks Adaptive Riding Center Felton, CA


Sharon Daspit

Every day people at PATH Intl. Centers see how horses heal, but there is always that one special person who completely engulfs us in awe. Such is the case with Sharon Daspit, who participated at Healing With Horses Ranch, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Manor, Texas. Because of dementia, Sharon can’t remember much, at times not even her own name or her life around horses, and she arrives at the center anxious and confused. But as soon as she sees her mount, a gentle chestnut mare, her mind and body remember their passion.

As she walks to the barn a gentle smile graces her softly aging face. She knows what is about to happen—she is going to ride. She laughs and her mind is transported. Experiencing the motion of the horse and the rhythmic movement seems to heal her mind and brings back her muscle memory... if only for a little while.

Her instructor said, “I have learned more from her than I could ever teach her. I have learned that the body can remember amazing things, even when the mind can’t guide it clearly. That the love of horses can span vast expanses over a lifetime that is shadowed by a muddled brain. And that even the most simple things can blow the cobwebs off a distant memory: the familiar feeling of leather in your hand, a brush through flaxen tail, human cheek pressed to equine shoulder. These feelings bring warmth to her smile, purpose to her day.”

Sharon’s husband wrote, “We get strength from our accomplishments, and when we can't achieve, life gets dark and joyless. Diminished. Now imagine one day you break out into sunshine, on top of a horse that magically seems to understand. Instructor, volunteers, form a protective bubble around horse and rider and then...the bubble floats free. Judging from her smile that must be what it feels like to her. It is the most wonderful, yet heart-breaking thing I've ever seen. She’s successful again. Her smile is back, her eyes light up. The rhythm of the walk, leather and horse, the cadence of hoofs hitting the ground, all come flooding back into her memory. It extends her reach, at a time when there didn't seem to be anything to reach for.”

We were greatly saddened to hear that in early August Sharon passed away due to complications with dementia. We are honored to name Sharon the PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian of the Year, and we echo the words of her husband: “To all the incredible people who work so hard to improve Sharon’s life. It's not just what you do, it's the intelligent, soft, gentle, loving way you do it.”

Ellen Glover

Perhaps it is a cliché to say that our centers couldn’t do what they do without volunteers. But in the case of Ellen Glover, who volunteers at Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Greenville, NC, the saying may be an understatement.

Ellen has been volunteering with Rocking Horse Ranch for more than a decade. Her volunteer coordinator said, “Whenever Ellen is working in lessons, she is always incredibly encouraging to the students and gets excited when they succeed. Her years of horse experience make her an extremely effective and safe leader for our students. She truly makes an impact on how we are able to serve our community.”

Part of that impact was when the program had to unexpectedly retire one of their best all-around horses, and they were left in a bind as to where they could find an appropriate horse quickly to fill his spot. Ellen immediately offered one of her personal horses to be tried in the program. Not only did the gelding turn out to be a perfect fit, Ellen also helped train him for his new activities, and exercises him to keep fit for his new job. One person said, “Ellen sacrificed being able to have her horse at home on her farm in order to allow our program to have a well-rounded herd that is able to help a wide variety of clients.”

Whether it is being willing to be a substitute leader, encouraging participants, always smiling, or visiting the horses (including HER horse)—and all of this while working as a nurse—Ellen has truly been an indispensable member of the Rocking Horse Ranch family. Congratulations, Ellen, on being named the PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year.

Cheryl Holt

An important attribute of a PATH Intl. Credentialed Professional is the ability to listen to a participant’s goals and help that participant reach and even move beyond those goals. An instructor like Cheryl Holt at River Valley Riders in Woodbury, Minnesota, makes dreams come true.

One rider at River Valley Riders had limited verbal skills and no riding experience. Her goal was to learn to ride independently. Though many years in the making, Cheryl has been there every step of the way to see this rider’s dream come true.

She started by breaking skills down into goals that could be achieved in the duration of the riding season. As each goal was met, a new goal was set and taught in a step-by-step manner that the rider could understand. Currently, the rider is able to ride independently, unclipped from the horse leader when in the arena. The rider has even gone on independent trail rides with friends and family—now THAT is a dream come true.

Another participant, who has a spinal cord injury, says, “She takes the time to ask me about my goals and then helps me achieve them. Because of her individualized attention, I continue to reach and surpass my goals. More important, though, has been the effect her teaching has had on me, both in body and spirit. When I first attended her class, I felt awkward because I was so much older than the other students, but my instructor welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I belonged. . . . My instructor's dedication and passion for teaching have inspired and strengthened me in a way that will affect me for the rest of my life.”

Cheryl, we are proud to name you the PATH Intl. Credentialed Professional of the Year.

Susan Lutz

The PATH Intl. President’s Award is an award decided upon and given by the board of trustees president to an individual or group of individuals who have with enthusiasm and dedication supported the president and endeavored to bring about the success of the association’s strategic initiatives. The award this year goes to Susan Lutz, an individual who has led the ongoing initiative with the PATH Intl. Membership Outreach Committee to define outreach. She has worked tirelessly to provide tools and support to the region leadership team volunteers who are focused on outreach to members, potential members and the public. In addition, she has led the MOC in responding to the members' desire for networking opportunities and ensuring those opportunities are available at every regional conference and state meeting all across the country. She supported the region reps in developing their region leadership team for strong support in each region and effectively executed on the board of trustees charge to encourage outreach as the primary purpose of the region rep and region leadership team.

Under her leadership the region reps asked to have their committee name changed from Membership Oversight Committee to Membership Outreach Committee, thereby cementing their focus on outreach.

Dr. Bill Mitchell

There are many details, small and large, to take care of in a center to make sure it is functioning optimally in order to provide the most effective and safest equine-assisted activities and therapies for participants.

The equines at PATH Intl. Member Centers are an important detail that must be cared for at all times, and the veterinarians who care for a center’s equines are priceless. Dr. Bill Mitchell is one such treasure to The Right Path Riding Academy, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Drumright, Oklahoma. The Right Path’s herd manager said, “When I came on, I had some experience with horses, but not extensive. Dr. Mitchell took the time to mentor me in how to take care of our horses well, keep them healthy, and how to handle emergencies.”

Dr. Mitchell, who is also a board member at The Right Path, is instrumental in helping to keep the center’s costs down by devoting time to teaching the staff how to take care of emergencies and daily needs, everything from blood draws to wound care. The herd manager said, “He doesn’t just take care of the issue, but takes the time to teach us the hows and whys of what happened, how to care for it, how to avoid it in the future, if possible.”

Dr. Mitchell is priceless to the center and values the work done on behalf of the riders. As more than one person said, “We are blessed to have him!”

Dr. Mitchell, thank you for your compassion and dedication to our equines. We are proud to name you the PATH Intl. Veterinarian of the Year.


If you were going to invent the ideal horse for an equine-assisted activities and therapies program, you might want to have one that is versatile, gentle, easy to handle, hardworking, not prone to burnout or health issues—and a heart the size of a Clydesdale. Or you could just look at Petey, who serves at Cincinnati Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship, a Premier Accredited Center in Milford, Ohio.

Petey is loved by all and always ready to work at the job he enjoys. Whether it is working with severely challenged children in hippotherapy classes, more capable riders in recreational riding lessons, veterans with PTSD, or those in the children’s hospital program, he puts a smile on everyone’s face. His kind temperament makes him irreplaceable. Petey is also a favorite among the other horses. He is a great friend to any horse he is put with, and is frequently the first horse to “babysit” a newbie.

He is always so willing to please, whether it is letting a very small hippotherapy rider go “around the world” on his back to letting a WORTH veteran from the Vietnam War sob into his neck because she finally felt accepted. For the past several months, a 10-year-old girl with profound weakness in her left arm and leg has been riding him. When she wants to go right, she uses her right arm to pull the rein back and her right leg to cue, but when she wants to go left, he listens for her tiny voice cues and responds every time.

With his quiet gentleness and loving nature, you really couldn’t invent a better EAAT horse. It is an honor to recognize Petey for the very special horse he is by naming him the PATH Intl. Equine of the Year.

Barbara Rector

The James Brady Professional Achievement Award honors those individuals who make lasting contributions throughout the equine-assisted activities and therapies field. We recognize them for demonstrating the highest ethical behavior in their personal and professional life; for possessing proven leadership and dedication through delivery of service, educational contribution, support and promotion of the industry; for bringing innovative ideas to fruition; for creating collaborations and partnerships to advance the work of EAAT; and for enhancing the success and knowledge of others in the association.

PATH Intl. is pleased to name Barbara Rector the 2018 James Brady Professional Achievement Award recipient.

Barbara started riding as a child and was already an accomplished equestrian when she suffered extensive injuries when her horse fell on her during a jumping competition. That experience gave her the vision of her life’s purpose to explore and share the power of horses as sentient beings to heal humans. Barbara’s friend Nancy McGibbon suggested that riding might help her rehabilitation. Her doctor was so impressed with her recovery he suggested she should share the horse work with other patients. That led to the creation with Nancy of Therapeutic Riding of Tucson (TROT).

Many members of our association remember Barbara and her work on behalf of PATH Intl. In 1996, she served on the NARHA Board of Trustees and co-founded with Boo Martin the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association or EFMHA (pronounced Ef-Mah), which was then a section of NARHA. She taught classes at Prescott College and helped create and start the undergraduate and master’s level program for equine-facilitated mental health. In 2005, her book Adventures in Awareness: Learning With the Help of Horses was published. Results of a study with Dr. Ann Baldwin and Ann Alden were published in April 2018 in People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice on equine-assisted learning for older adults, and she has developed a special program, “In the Presence of Horses,” for seniors.

Michael Kaufmann, director of Green Chimneys Farm and Wildlife/Sam and Myra Ross Institute and current PATH Intl. Vice President, said, “Barbara is one of the major leaders in the evolution of equine-facilitated mental health. Her work, writings and teaching have informed and mentored thousands of instructors, practitioners and mental health professionals, and she has had a major impact on the evolution of a field within equine-assisted activities and therapies.

“The danger of time passing is that a pioneer in a field can get forgotten. It’s like asking proof that Alexander Graham Bell had any impact on the I-Phone. Let me put it this way—anyone today who is practicing equine-facilitated mental health, be they a therapist or instructor, either directly or indirectly is building on the work and leadership of Barbara Rector.”

Through articles, conference talks, workshops, certifications, clinics, founding centers, writing books, and speaking internationally, Barbara has been and continues to be a thought leader, an influencer, and has shifted paradigms in how people approach the human-horse bond.

Ann Alden said, “Barbara is a true visionary who has the knowledge and charisma to convince others of the value of humane, ethical, effective methods of working with horses and humans. Innovative ideas that Barbara talked about 40 years ago are now being validated by research.” Molly Sweeney put it this way: “She is not ON the cutting edge, she is LEADING the cutting edge of thought in EAAT.”

Nancy McGibbon said, “Barbara truly has a gift for thinking outside the box and has turned her innovative ideas into real life programs to help others. We co-founded TROT in the early 70s at a time when there were few programs nationally and none in the southwest to serve as a model. She also introduced horses to Sierra Tucson, a nationally known treatment facility for those with addictions, as she was passionate about the potential role of the horse in healing body and spirit. This program was one of the first structured programs of its kind involving non-mounted interaction with horses.”

Barbara, however, has never had a “Lone Ranger” mentality. Nancy goes on to say, “Barbara’s outgoing and engaging personality combined with her passion and depth of knowledge brings people of diverse backgrounds together to work toward common goals.”

Molly Sweeney said, “Barbara has a unique way of getting a visionary idea and then finding just the right people to bring it to fruition. She is a great motivator and encourager with the tenacity and persistence to make things happen.” For example, she talked with Molly to decide how to promote research. That meeting gave birth to the Horses and Humans Research Foundation.

She builds bridges among all who have as their mission the improvement of human and animal quality of life, and as Ann noted, “She challenges and enables her students to become better professionals in their own EAAT programs.”

Nancy said, “Barbara’s vision, commitment, innovation, and passion for the powerful human-horse relationship are unequaled. She is a truly remarkable woman whose impact on the field of EAAT will be felt for many years to come.” Michael said, “Barbara is the symbol of what the James Brady Professional Achievement Award seeks to recognize.” Molly, herself a James Brady recipient, said, “Barbara probably would not approve of us nominating her for the Brady award, but I know of no one any more deserving or any more qualified.”

Barbara, we are proud to recognize you as the winner of the 2016 PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award.

Kenbe Rogers

Born in Haiti after the horrific earthquake in 2010, Kenbe was adopted by an American family. Arriving in the United States, he faced a multitude of emotional and physical challenges, including a leg requiring amputation. His new family put him into the therapeutic riding program at Saddle Up!, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Franklin, Tennessee, when he was age-eligible. Now, at 8 years old, with the help of equine-assisted activities, Kenbe has gained confidence, accepted his prosthesis and is learning to use and trust his ‘new’ left leg. With a prosthetic left leg, mounting was a challenge from the beginning. One goal, from the age of four, was to be able to put his left foot in the stirrup by himself. Three months ago, he succeeded in putting that foot in the stirrup and mounting his horse independently for the first time. His instructor said, “The pride and sense of accomplishment shining in his eyes seemed to say, ‘If I can do this, I can do anything!’”

The instructor went on to say, “I knew he was going to be a real horse person during his second lesson. I saw him putting his face into his pony’s neck and I asked, ‘Are you kissing him?’ ‘No!’ he said, ‘I’m smelling him!’”

He is known for having the best smile in the barn and his face lights up when he sees horses. One person noted, “He deserves to be the Youth Equestrian of the Year to show people that our children can progress and persevere no matter their challenges or perceived limitations.”

We agree. Congratulations, Kenbe, on being named the PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian of the Year.

Kristie Weems

A journey of a thousand steps starts with the first one. Kristie Weems has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and passion for equine-assisted activities and therapies throughout the years she has been involved with REACH Therapeutic Riding Center, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in McGregor, Texas, and her journey is just beginning. She began as a participant in the center’s Warrior Transition Brigade. While dealing with PTSD, Kristie worked hard to reintegrate with groups, open up with others and improve her self-confidence. As she became more at ease with herself and the horses, she wanted to help others experience the same benefits and began recruiting others to the program. She started riding in the Horses for Warriors program and gained enough experience to become a volunteer and horse leader not only for REACH’s veteran programs, but also for their therapeutic riding and hippotherapy programs. In addition, she has been a tremendous advocate for the center by representing veterans during grant presentations.

But it’s not only other veterans she helps. She began to develop relationships with the horses that will never be broken as well as some of the younger riders. One person said, “Kristie brings so much to our barn and staff; she even changes her work schedule hours to make sure all of the other clients have enough volunteers to ride that day.”

Riding and volunteering has had such a powerful impact on her life that she recently set the goal of becoming a PATH Intl. Certified TRI herself in order to help improve the lives of others in the same way. From participant to volunteer to instructor, we are with Kristie all the way. Congratulations, Kristie, on being named the PATH International Equine Services for Heroes Equestrian of the Year.




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