Region 3

Virginia News

donna wilsonVirginia State Rep

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Donna is a graduate from Findlay University with an associate’s degree in Equestrian Studies. She has been involved in therapeutic riding since 1996. In 1997 she attended the PATH Accredited Instructor Program at Equest, in Wylie, Texas, obtaining PATH Advanced Level instructor certification. Donna served six years on the Board of Directors for the Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia (TRAV) and was the TRAV Annual Fall Horse Show manager from 2002 to 2008. She currently serves PATH as a Lead Site Visitor for accreditation of therapeutic riding centers. Donna is employed full time with Sentara Newtown Diagnostics as a Clinical Lab Assistant in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her “fun time” job is being a riding instructor for Dream Catchers at the Cory Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center where she is also the leader for the Dream Catchers 4-H club. Prior to human medicine, Donna was a veterinary technician for 12 years. A North Carolina native, she now resides in Toano, Virginia with her husband, David, aka Corky, one dog, one horse, and one cat. “Being a therapeutic riding instructor offers me the pleasure of combining my love and passion of horses and people. I am both honored and humbled to know that what I do is making a difference in someone’s life by improving their quality of life. If I have helped one person along the way I feel it has been a good day.”

Upcoming Events




PATH Intl. Virginia State Meeting & Education Day -- MAY 4 HAS BEEN CANCELED -- THIS EVENT WILL BE RESCHEDULED

Boones Mill, VA
hosted by Healing Strides of Virginia

Click here for information flyer

Click here for registration form

Advanced Prep Course, June 19 - 22, 2013
We are pleased to have Sandy Webster, PATH International Master Instructor and Evaluator, teach this valuable course for any Registered Instructor seeking to improve their horsemanship and teaching skills with Advanced Certification in mind.  Whether you are a new instructor or if you have been teaching for years, this course will help you along your professional journey with PATH Intl.  (Please note:  This course is designed to help you to prepare for the PATH Intl. Advanced Certification.  The actual Certification portion is not included with the course but is a separate on-site event.)

Registration is now open and will close on June 1, 2013  -- but don't wait too long, this class will fill up! Click here for the registration form.

On-Site Workshop and Certification, June 24 - 27, 2013
For instructors-in-training with PATH Intl, or for any PATH Intl. member looking for an excellent educational experience within our industry, this OSWC can be taken as just a workshop (June 24-26), as a combined workshop with certification (June 24-27) or if you have already been to a workshop then you can come just for certification (June 26-27).   

Registration deadline is May 15, 2013, but we have a limited number of spaces available, so please register early.  A waiting list will be maintained as needed. Click here for the registration form

Mentor Training, June 28 - 29, 2013
Our goal, along with PATH Intl., is to increase the number of qualified mentors available to instructors in training. This workshop will provide current PATH Intl. certified instructors with a continuing education opportunity while enhancing personal observation, evaluation and feedback skills through group activities. It will give the mentor tools that will help individual mentors and centers in setting up a mentoring program, including enhancing communication skills to build a trusting and professional relationship between mentor and mentee.

The registration deadline is May 15, 2013.  Class is limited to 20 participants and a waiting list will be maintained. Click here for the registration form.


Virginia News:  TRAV Education Day, February 2, 2013

By Melissa Conner, Virginia State Chair

Over seventy instructors, volunteers, therapists, Board members, and PATH Intl. center personnel met on a snowy Saturday in February near Harrisonburg, Virginia, for a day of education and networking in therapeutic horsemanship.  The day was organized by TRAV (Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia, see for more information) and all in attendance learned a great deal from the outstanding speakers who were invited to share their insights and research – based experience in working with horses.

DSCF8710Marsha Mills, PhD, shared during the morning session and her presentation was entitled, “Therapeutic Horseback Riding for Veterans with Chronic and Severe PTSD.”  She shared both research and personal stories about how interactions between her clients and horses at Long Branch Therapeutic Riding Center in Winchester, Virginia, resulted in improvements in quality of life for the veterans.  As more and more PATH Intl. centers seek to serve the veteran population, her insights were helpful and inspiring.  Adding to the conversation was Mary Jo Beckman, who founded and continues to operate the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Programs in northern Virginia and Washington, DC.   Mary Jo is a life member of PATH Intl. and was the 2011 winner of the prestigious James Brady Award for outstanding service within our industry.

DSCF8712The afternoon session continued with Leslie Sinn, DVM, presenting on “Training in Equine Behavior for Therapeutic Riding Personnel.”  As a veterinarian specializing in behavior, Dr. Sinn was able to relate well to the world of therapeutic horsemanship and pointed out very useful and practical ways that we can better understand our equine’s behavior and help them be more successful at their jobs.   The Virginia Horse Industry Board sponsored Dr. Sinn’s presentation to show their support of furthering education for our industry in Virginia.

In addition to the presentations, TRAV, which is a membership organization (all TRAV members must also be members of PATH Intl.) held their annual membership meeting and Board elections during the lunch break.  We are very fortunate to live in a state that has so many opportunities for growth and networking for individuals in this industry.  Well done, TRAV! 

For more information about TRAV, its mission and its membership, please visit their website at and you can also “like” them on Facebook.

We hope to see many of the TRAV members at the Region 3 Conference in Bluffton, South Carolina, from March 1 – 3 for more outstanding educational opportunities!




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