National - General

Title Sponsor:

PURINA VERTICAL 06 16 sm web


2019 PATH Intl. Conference and Annual Meeting - November 8-10

Targeted at the ever-growing group of professionals in equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT), the 2019 Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Conference and Annual Meeting, presented by title sponsor Purina, will feature an impressive array of educational sessions presented by industry experts. The keynote award luncheon has been a perennial highlight. Attendees also enjoy the opportunities to catch up with old friends at various discussion forums and social receptions and network while visiting our growing exhibit hall. 

You will want to visit this page often as we will update conference information as it becomes available. This includes online registration. Make sure your membership and contact information are up to date with the PATH Intl. office so you don’t miss important information and the opening of registration.

Registration Information

November 8-10, 2019

  • Preconference workshops and opening general session will be on Friday, November 8.
  • Education sessions will be on Saturday and Sunday, November 9-10.


The Westin Westminster

10600 Westminster Blvd
Westminster, CO 80020
Phone: (303) 410-5000

Conference Rate

PATH Intl. has negotiated a discounted hotel rate of $149 plus 12.5% sales tax. The contracted rate is good until either the room block sells out or until October 9, 2019. Availability and rate cannot be guaranteed once the room block is sold out or after this date.

The hotel conference rate includes:

  • Complimentary self-park
  • $15 per day for valet park
  • Complimentary pool access
  • Complimentary access to the 24-hour fitness center

Reservation Method

Hotel reservations can be made online or by phone.

  • Click here to make your reservations online.
  • You may call the hotel directly at 1-303-410-5000. Please identify yourself as attending the 2019 PATH International Conference to secure the discounted hotel rate. 


Check-in is 3 p.m. and Check-out is 12 p.m. Early check-in and late check-out requests will be based on hotel availability.


Airport Information

The Denver International Airport is located 25 miles from the hotel. Transfer time will arrange from 30-45 minutes depending on the time of day.  

Transfers options from the Denver International Airport to the Westin Westminster

  • Taxi approximately $75 one way

  • Uber/Lyft – approximately $45 one way

Driving Instructions

Click here for driving instructions.


A broad spectrum of session content is needed each year to offer a rich and rewarding experience for all attendees. At this time PATH Intl. is conducting a call for abstracts. You are invited to submit an abstract highlighting your organization's innovations or personal research and how they may benefit the equine-assisted activities and therapies field. 

Abstract submission will be handled electronically only.

Click here to download abstract information.

Click here to begin the abstract submission process.

Abstracts must be submitted to PATH Intl. by April 2, 2019. No submissions will be accepted after April 2.


PATH Intl. and the Conference Host Committee are always looking for members to volunteer at the conference. There are many places to volunteer. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information. Or download the Volunteer Descriptions form (coming soon for 2019).


We have had many wonderful sponsors and exhibitors over the past years. Their participation is what makes it possible to host these fun and educational events and allows us to award scholarships to dozens of deserving attendees. We want to sincerely thank them for their support.

Learn more about becoming a sponsor

If you would like to exhibit at the conference, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Click here for information.

Special 50th Anniversary Opportunities!
The excitement is building as PATH Intl. prepares to celebrate 50 years of excellence in equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). The list of special 2019 sponsorship opportunities are available in honorof the year-long celebration. Current PATH Intl. sponsors are being given the first look at the types of sponsorship add ons we’re considering. It is not an exhaustive list. If you have an idea or price range you’d like to suggest, we’d love to hear it! Click here


Do you know a company that would like to advertise by donating a piece to include in conference registration bags? Do you have an item you would like to donate to the silent auction? Download the donation form. Questions? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And thank you for participating in this fun event!


The James Brady Professional Achievement Award recognizes the contributions made to the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). The award is presented in the name of James Brady to recognize a professional who has made contributions in the creation or development of industry-advancing ideas, initiatives, programs or events, and the winner will demonstrate a sustained and lasting contribution to the EAAT industry, both within and outside of PATH Intl. Click here for criteria and forms. The deadline for nominations is June 29, 2018.


It is the desire of PATH Intl. to provide the maximum opportunity to underwrite registration scholarships for the PATH Intl. Conference and Annual Meeting, and the association works diligently to obtain funding sources for such scholarships. As leaders in the industry, we are committed to providing our members with opportunities for continuing education and professional development to ensure sustainability within the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). We are excited to offer this unique opportunity. 

EFP/EAL PATH Intl. Conference and Annual Meeting Scholarship in memory of Marjorie V. Kittredge

Click below to see the application:
2019 PATH Intl. Pat and Jackie Mullins International Conference and Annual Meeting Scholarship
2019 EFP/EAL PATH Intl. Conference and Annual Meeting Scholarship in memory of Marjorie V. Kittredge

The deadline for application is June 14, 2019. Notifications will go out July 5-12. If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call her at (800) 369-7433.


Do you know of an outstanding PATH Intl. Instructor or Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, a hardworking volunteer, a dedicated volunteer veterinarian or dependable equine deserving of many carrots and hugs? We want to hear about them! Each year PATH Intl. honors riders, certified professionals, volunteers, volunteer veterinarians, equines and contributing professionals from each region at our awards ceremony—they are, after all, the backbone of and the reason for our incredible organization! 

Nominations for regional award categories (credentialed professional, volunteer, equine, veterinarian) must be submitted by January 28, 2019. This is to ensure that regional winners are notified in time for the 2019 region conferences.

Equestrian of the year awards (child/youth, adult/independent adult and PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes) are national awards, and the nomination deadline for this category is May 31, 2019.

Click for nomination forms.

If you have questions, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call her at (800) 369-7433, ext. 118

NOTE: Nominations for regional equines, volunteers, veterinarians and credentialed professionals are OPEN for 2020 -- Deadline: December 1, 2019. Equestrian award and James Brady Professional Achievement award nominations are open until May 31, 2020.

Do you have a talented equestrian at your PATH Intl. center? Do you admire a particular instructor or an equine specialist in mental health and learning? Does a special horse, mule or mini that has a priceless attitude call your center home? Do you know of a volunteer or veterinarian who generously gives time at a PATH Intl. center?

Now is the time to submit an award nomination for these special individuals and animals.

2020 PATH Intl. Awards Process

In 2018 as part of the strategic plan and from member input, staff reviewed processes related to the international conference, and one of the areas reviewed was the PATH Intl. Awards Program. We understand that time is a resource that many member centers do not have enough of, and we have heard that is one reason centers do not always nominate for the awards program. Because all of our equines, volunteers, veterinarians and credentialed professionals are deserving of recognition, the nomination forms were streamlined into a short form so member centers can nominate in less time. In 2020 all award nominations will be scored, and in the event of a tie, the winners will be selected randomly out of those with the highest tied score. Also recognizing that travel to the PATH Intl. Conference and Annual Meeting may pose financial worries and that family and friends are not always there to share in the excitement, the regional awards will be presented at the regional conferences. This may be more convenient and less expensive for the award winners, families and friends to attend. International winners in all categories, including the equestrian winners, will be honored at the international conference.

Below is a summary of the 2020 process:

  1. The awards nomination form for the equines, volunteers and veterinarians will be scored based on criteria, experience, and ranking of attributes as indicated on the form.
    • The regional winner will be based on the highest score.
    • In the event of a tie for regional winner, the winner will be selected by random from those tied with the highest score.
  2. The awards nomination form for the credentialed professional will be scored with criteria such as being a member in good standing, minimum length of certification/service, contribution to program and adhering to PATH Intl. Standards/code of ethics and ranking of attributes.
    • The regional winner will be based on the highest score.
    • In the event of a tie for regional winner, the winner will be selected by random from those tied with the highest score.
  3. The nominators of regional winners will be asked to submit reference forms that include essays for consideration in selection of the international winner. Regional winner reference forms will need to be submitted by May 31, 2020 to be considered for the 2020 PATH Intl. award in their respective category.

Nominations for regional award categories must be submitted by December 1, 2019. This is to ensure that regional winners are notified in time for the 2020 region conferences.

Equestrian of the year awards are national awards, and the nomination deadline for this category is May 31, 2020

Here is a summary of the required criteria for the 2020 PATH Intl. Awards Nominations:

General Nomination Criteria:

  • Nominating centers must be current center members in good standing.
  • Only one nomination is allowed per center per category.
  • In the Equine, Veterinarian and Volunteer categories, the center is not eligible to submit a nomination if they had a regional winner in that category in 2019.
  • The nominee is ineligible if they have won a PATH Intl. award in their respective category in the last five years.

Equestrians of the Year Criteria:

  • The equestrian participates in an equestrian activity at a PATH Intl. Member Center in good standing and has a disability/special need.
  • The adult equestrian must be at least 18 years old as of January 1, 2020
  • The PATH International Equine Services for Heroes equestrian nominee must be at least 18 years old and a military veteran or currently enlisted in the military.
  • The youth equestrian must be at least 4 years old but under the age of 18 as of January 1 2020.

The Equestrian of the Year is not a regional award. The equestrian awards will have reference essays judged by a panel of volunteer judges to determine the winner in each category.

Equine of the Year Criteria:

  • The equine’s previous experience has added value to his/her services in the field of EAAT at the nominating center.
  • The equine has an excellent attitude for work in the field of EAAT.
  • The equine’s contributions are significant to the nominating center.
  • The equine has good relationships with the participants with whom he/she interacts with at the nominating center.

Volunteer of the Year Criteria:

  • The volunteer has been active in the center’s program for the entire year prior to this nomination and is still active at this time.
  • The volunteer is not paid for his/her time at the center.
  • The volunteer’s contributions to the center are of the highest quality.
  • The volunteer is reliable and consistently follows thought with his/her commitments
  • The volunteer’s contributions have helped enhance the ability of the center to provide equine-assisted activities and therapies.
  • The nominee has a long history of volunteer service, either at the center or elsewhere in the community.

Veterinarian of the Year Criteria:

  • The veterinarian volunteers at least a portion of his/her time or products to the nominating center.
  • The veterinarian is currently licensed in his/her state or county of practice.
  • The veterinarian demonstrates compassion and respect for participants and clients.
  • The veterinarian demonstrates safe, ethical and humane treatment of equines.

Credentialed Professional of the Year Criteria

  • The credentialed professional is a current PATH Intl. member in good standing
  • The credentialed professional holds a PATH Intl. certification or EFP or EAL credentials.
  • The credentialed professional has a minimum of 2 years’ experience in their respective field.
  • The credentialed professional demonstrates excellent teaching, facilitating or other related skills.
  • The credentialed professional demonstrates compassion and respect for students, clients, staff and volunteers.
  • The credentialed professional demonstrates safe, ethical and humane partnering with equines.
  • The credentialed professional adheres to all applicable PATH Intl. Standards, guidelines and code of ethics.

Additional information for the credentialed professional to be submitted will include credentials, certifications, and experience information, and the nominator will be asked to rank certain attributes of the nominee.

Please be sure to follow the instructions described on the nomination form, and fill out the form in its entirety.
If you have questions, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call her at (800) 369-7433, ext. 118


Equestrians of the Year
   Sample Nomination Form

Regional Awards

Equines of the Year
   Equines of the Year reference forms
   Sample nomination form

Credentialed Professionals of the Year
   Credentialed Professionals of the Year reference forms
   Sample nomination form

Volunteers of the Year
   Volunteers of the Year reference forms
   Sample nomination form

Veterinarians of the Year
   Veterinarians of the Year reference forms
   Sample nomination form


Click on the link to download workshop and/or session presentations from the 2010 National Conference and Annual Meeting.

Pre-conference Workshops

NARHA Horses for Heroes Pre-Conference Workshop

NARHA Horses for Heroes bios of presenters


Thursday, General Session

Raising Money in December -- Some Myths and Some Methods

Getting Over the Fear of Asking

How to Raise $50,000 in Six Weeks


Thursday, Session A, Practical Applications Track

Developing a Horse Maintenance Program


Thursday, Session A, Administrative Track A

Event Planning Tips and Strategies


Thursday, Session A, Administrative Track B

Risk Management for NARHA Centers

Insurance Checklist for NARHA Centers

Reporting Incidents to Your Insurer


Thursday, Session C, Administrative Track B

Navigating a Successful Silent Auction -- 18 Mb

Silent Auction Tool Kit


Thursday, Session D, Integrative Programming Track

Dealing With the Loss of a Horse


Friday, Session A-B-C, Research Track

ASD Learning Styles and Interventions

Autism and THR

Introduction Autism Diagnosis


Region 7 Presentation


Friday, Session A, Integrative Programming Track

Using Brain Gym to Ride With Confidence, Relaxation and Balance


Friday, Session A-B, Administrative Track B

Making Your Volunteer Program a Win-Win


Friday, Session C, Practical Applications Track

Enhancing Spinal Cord Injury Patient Education Through Interaction With Horses

"Craig RN helps patients build confidence with horse therapy," in Denver's Nursing Star


Friday, Session C, Administrative Track B

Basics of Budgeting


Friday, Session D, Research Track

A Narrative Study of Volunteer Experiences and Stories -- 3 Mb


Friday, Session D, Practical Applications Track

Tying Your Lessons Together


Friday, Session D, Administrative Track B

Transitions Toward Board Excellence


Friday, Session F, Integrative Programming Track

Denver Short

Final Corrected Centaur (5 MB)


Friday, Session F, Research Track

The Effect of EAAT on Balance in Older Adults


Friday, Session F, Practical Applications Track

Practical Considerations for Precautions and Contraindications


Saturday, Horse Expo

Looking Your Gift Horse in the Mouth, Over the Tail, Under ....

Horse Screening

New Horse First Evaluation

New Horse Second Evaluation

Regular Horse Evaluation


Giving Back to the Equine With Reiki

Giving Back to the Equine With Reiki


Congratulations 2011 Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Exemplary Award Winners!

(Click on the name to read the bio below)


2011 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian
Recognition Award
Shellie Muzzey
Region 9
Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped
Hailey, ID


2011 PATH Intl. Child Equestrian Recognition Award
Milee Huffman
Region 3
St. Andrews Ride Like a Knight
Laurinburg, NC
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


PATH Intl. Independent Adult Equestrian Recognition Award
Lara Oles
Region 10
National Ability Center
Park City, UT
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian Recognition Award
Carly Renguette
Region 6
Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program
Racine, WI


PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes of the Year
Ryan Ohrmundt
Region 7
BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding & Educational Center
Harvard, IL
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


PATH Intl. Sis Gould Award
Corie Brooks
Region 11
Santa Rosa, CA
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


PATH Intl. EFP/EFL Recognition Award
Martha McNiel
Region 11
DreamPower Horsemanship
San Martin, CA



PATH Intl. Equine of the Year Award
Region 5
Therapeutic Animal Partners
Columbia, TN
Sponsored by American Quarter Horse Association


2011 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year
Recognition Award
Jacob O'Brien
Region 4
Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
Augusta, MI
(Premier Accredited Center)


2011 PATH Intl. Instructor of the Year Recognition Award
Trudy Chapman-Radley

Region 10
Horses with H.E.A.R.T.Chino Valley, AZ
Sponsored by Purina 


2011 PATH Intl. James Brady
Professional Achievement
Mary Jo Beckman


2011 PATH Intl. President's Award
Heather Hoff


2011 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Programs and Standards
Michael Kaufmann
Green Chimneys, Brewster, NY
(Premier Accredited Center)


2011 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Membership
Tracy Weber

2011 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Education
Pat McCowan

2011 Region Award Winners

Region 1

Equine of the Year Tabano Ben
T.H.E. FARM (Tewksbury Hospital Equestrian FARM)
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Tewksbury, MA
Instructor of the Year Jonnie Edwards

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

Old Lyme, CT
Volunteer of the Year Deborah Welles
High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Old Lyme, CT
Region 2 Equine of the Year Shugs Gray Lady (Lady)
Circle of Hope Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Barnesville, MD
Instructor of the Year Doria Fleisher
Melwood Recreation Center Equestrian Program Nanjemoy, MD
Volunteer of the Year NA

Region 3 Equine of the Year Sadie EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Virginia Beach, VA
Instructor of the Year Kelsey Redfearn Gallagher
Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Clifton, VA
Volunteer of the Year Patty Revels
Astride With Pride, Inc. Bedford, VA
Region 4 Equine of the Year Dan's Red Sun (Dan)

Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

Augusta, MI
Instructor of the Year Tammy Porter
Discovery Riders, Inc.
Zanesfield, OH
Volunteer of the Year Jacob O'Brien
Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Augusta, MI
Region 5 Equine of the Year Valentino Therapeutic Animal Partners
Columbia, TN
Instructor of the Year Lynne Evans
Saddle UP!
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Franklin, TN
Volunteer of the Year Elleene Morgan
Dream Quest EFP & TR, Inc. Bethlehem, GA
Region 6 Equine of the Year Stormy River Valley Riders
Bayport, MN
Instructor of the Year NA

Volunteer of the Year Kathy Jo Hanson
River Valley Riders Bayport, MN
Region 7 Equine of the Year Big Mac
Exceptional Equestrians of the Missouri Valley, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Washington, MO
Instructor of the Year Jennifer Ann Lamoreux
One Heart Equestrian Therapy, Inc. Colo, IA
Volunteer of the Year Joan Castell
Main Stay Therapeutic Riding Prrogram
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Richmond, IL
Region 8 Equine of the Year Peanut Hearts and Hooves, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Sherwood, AR
Instructor of the Year Anita Sepko
Riding Unlimited
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Ponder, TX
Volunteer of the Year Randy Hurt
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
McKinney, TX
Region 9 Equine of the Year Hercules Changing Rein, LLC
Graham, WA
Instructor of the Year Lisa Hanson
Sycamore Lane Therapeutic Riding Center
Oregon City, OR
Volunteer of the Year Bill Postlewait
Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped
Hailey, ID
Region 10 Equine of the Year Tulip National Ability Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Park City, UT
Instructor of the Year Trudy Chapman-Radley
Horses with H.E.A.R.T., Inc. Chino Valley, AZ
Volunteer of the Year Cheri Bashor
TREC, Therapeutic Riding & Education Center
Pueblo West, CO
Region 11 Equine of the Year Tulips DreamPower Horsemanship San Martin, CA
Instructor of the Year Maxine Freitas
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Santa Rosa, CA
Volunteer of the Year NA



Mary Jo Beckman
When it comes to working with PATH Intl., there isn’t much that Mary Jo Beckman hasn’t done. She started as a volunteer in 1994 and is now a certified master instructor as well as a driving instructor. She is a PATH Intl. lead faculty and evaluator, preparing future instructors for certification. She is also a lead visitor, ensuring that centers meet PATH Intl. standards for accreditation. She has served on numerous committees and serves on the board of directors for Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia.

But perhaps the thing that we know Mary Jo best for and what beats closest to her heart is her work with PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes. Herself a retired Navy Commander, she co-founded the Caisson Platoon program with Army Command Sergeant Major Larry Pence, which provided therapeutic riding lessons at Ft. Myer, VA, for wounded military and civilians receiving treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The program started as “recreational” therapy, but the results were so impressive that after only four sessions, it became one of the physical therapy options available to those at Walter Reed. It is now in its sixth year, with Mary Jo conducting each lesson as the instructor.

After connecting with the Caisson Platoon, learning about the work at ROCK in Texas and inspired by Mary Woolverton’s work with Vietnam War veterans, Mary Jo became focused—some might say obsessed—with providing EAAT services to veterans. She was not content to provide therapeutic riding experiences to veterans at Walter Reed. She envisioned providing EAAT to veterans of all ages throughout the United States. Through much work with the PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes Task Force, Mary Jo’s vision became reality in 2007, and today there are approximately 90 centers around the nation working with their local VA offices to provide services, and more than 125 additional riding centers have inquired about how to start a program. There are more than 260 members on the Horses for Heroes list-serve, two high-quality international pre-conference workshops and a number of regional workshops and educational events. She regularly connects with Veterans Affairs administrators, medical professionals and volunteers across the country, propelling PATH Intl. and EAAT into all major media outlets across the globe.

As much as PATH Intl. is the voice of the EAAT field, Mary Jo is the voice of PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes and is the “go-to” person for answering questions about how to implement and sustain a program working with wounded military and veterans. She not only answers questions from centers but also coordinates efforts across the country, meeting with members of Congress and the Veterans Administration to help facilitate funding for all PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes services.

Through her efforts to serve both the veteran community and the EAAT field, she has brought additional international visibility and credibility to PATH Intl. Her contributions and untiring commitment make her the well-deserving recipient of the 2011 PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award.

Corie Brooks
According to those who have worked with her, Corie Brooks at EQUI-ED in Santa Rosa, CA, exemplifies outstanding dedication to the development and promotion of driving for individuals with disabilities through her continuous work on the PATH Intl. driving program. Over the past 10 years, Corie has served on the PATH Intl. Driving Committee, has written numerous articles and presented at regional and national conferences, and was instrumental in helping to write the driving workbook, which is the criteria for the driving workshop and certification. She is currently engaged in conversation with the American Driving Society to create webinars on therapeutic driving.

Corie has been around driving all her adult life. She has been involved in breaking and training horses to drive and competes in combined driving events in shows. Her extensive driving experience includes her own PATH Intl. Level III Driving certification, and she is a PATH Intl. Lead Evaluator.

Corie's contributions to the therapeutic driving field continue as she strives to increase the number of PATH Intl. Certified Driving Instructors and centers that provide driving. It is an honor to name her the Sis Gould Driving Award recipient for 2011.

Tracy Chapman-Radley
Instructors often need to think outside the box when it comes to gaining the trust of their riders as well as creating lessons and helping them to develop confidence. Trudy Chapman-Radley at Horses with H.E.A.R.T. in Region 10, is just such an instructor. According to her fellow instructors, Trudy shows creativity in each lesson. On one occasion, Trudy had a new rider with autism come in for an intake interview. She asked the parent whether or not the child had ever worn a helmet, and the parent said that it might be an issue. Trudy gave a safety helmet to the parent to take home so that the rider could practice wearing it before she came for her lesson in two weeks. Trudy even suggested that the child decorate the helmet. When the rider came two weeks later, the helmet had colorful stickers on it. The rider calmly put it on and wore it for the entire lesson. A fellow instructor said, “This creative thinking and foresight prevented stress and a possible struggle and set the stage for rider success.”

Trudy, who has been with PATH International since 1995, volunteers full time at Horses with H.E.A.R.T., logging in over 3,600 volunteer hours in the past three years. In addition to being a PATH International Certified Instructor, she has served as president of the board, executive director, board member and riding director at the center. She has missed only one national conference since 1997.

“I can’t say enough about this instructor,” says a mother of three riders with special needs. “Not only has she changed my family’s lives, she has changed hundreds of lives in the special needs community. My family is so blessed to have her in our lives. She is a special person and deserves to be named the best instructor in the country.”

Heather Hoff
Heather is the Farnam Senior Vice President; Equine Products. Heather joined Farnam in 1997. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University. Under Heather's guidance, Farnman has donated dewormers to PATH Intl. centers and also funds grants for PATH Intl. centers through America's Horse Cares. She was raised in North Dakota where she and her family raised horses and cattle. She was active in 4-H and has been a rodeo competitor since the age of 4. She currently competes in breakaway roping.

Milee Huffman
It’s not unusual to see a child look forward to riding lessons or being in the barn. But Milee Huffman doesn’t just exhibit a love of horses but also empathy for them. She is truly interested in learning about and practicing horse care and always takes care that her horse is comfortable.

This 11-year-old has been riding for six years and in that time has learned to read equine body language and interpret what her mount is feeling. One day at the end of a lesson, Milee’s instructor took her for a short field ride to cool down. As they were walking, Milee’s horse stepped in a patch of very loose dirt and sank to his knee. The sidewalkers provided the support she needed while the horse hopped back up. Everyone was a little shaken by the incident and paused for a moment to catch their breath. Milee reached down to tell her horse it was okay. After the ride, she checked his legs and gave him extra attention to make sure he wasn’t hurt. She put aside any fear she might have felt and instead reacted like an equine professional – all about the horse!

Milee accepts all challenges placed in her way with a glorious smile and an attitude that says she can overcome anything. Even her favorite horse, who is sometimes picky with his riders, is in love with her. You can see it on his face whenever she is getting ready to ride.

One of her sidewalkers at St Andrews Ride Like a Knight says about Milee, “She has an infectious smile and laugh that impacts everyone who crosses her path. She is a true horseman and understands that every day and every ride offers something new to learn, and she is anxious to absorb it. I couldn’t think of a better recipient for the PATH Intl. 2011 Child Equestrian of the Year Award for everything that both it and PATH Intl. stands for.”

Michael Kaufmann
Michael is earning the award this year because of his relentless efforts in organizing standards for equine-facilitated learning. He managed to keep an enthusiastic task force focused on the objective that resulted in EFL guidelines that are included in the 2011 edition of the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation. Michael’s name has long been connected with the association’s history, having served on the board in the ’90s, participating in the formation of the mental health and learning community, chairing many task forces and committees and even serving on the association’s staff from 2000 through 2005. He now serves as the director of the Farm and Wildlife Conservation Center at Green Chimneys in Brewster, NY, one of the preeminent PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Centers.

Pat McCowan
Pat leads the review of the process for selecting and training the faculty for the association’s various programs as chair of the Faculty Development Task Force. Given the number and levels of our certification programs, this is a daunting task. This task force this year took on the project of updating the Association Visitor Training Course. Pat has been a PATH Intl. Life Member since joining the association in 1989.  She is an advanced instructor, a lead site visitor, faculty for the Center Accreditation Training course and the Associate Visitor Training course. She has been a member of the Accreditation Subcommittee. She also coordinated the Margo O’Callaghan Competition Fund.

Martha McNiel
Martha is the founder and director of DreamPower Horsemanship in San Martin, CA. Additionally, she is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice, a PATH Intl. Registered Riding Instructor and a Certified Equine Interaction Professional in Mental Health. Martha served on the EFMHA Board of Directors for five years and worked on the committee that brought about the merger with PATH Intl.

Martha presents seminars on equine-facilitated psychotherapy at regional and PATH Intl. conferences, and her seminars are used by mental health professionals to meet continuing education requirements. She currently supervises six psychotherapy interns in the practice of EFP and has successfully mentored six PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructors through the certification process.

A gifted practitioner of equine-facilitated services, Martha reaches out to all the stakeholders in the field. Her center helps foster emotionally disturbed youth, veterans and their families, and others with mental and physical health challenges. Through her leadership positions at PATH Intl., she has encouraged others to reach for excellence and increased the professionalism for our industry.

Priscilla Marden, the executive director of Horse Warriors in Wyoming, said, “No one I know works longer, harder and more diligently to further and better the quality of work done by all of us in the field. Martha defines dedication to this field and has set the bar for the rest of us to strive toward.”

Shellie Muzzey
If there is an embodiment of the PATH Intl. vision to enrich and change lives through equine-assisted activities and therapies, it is Shellie Muzzey. Born with several physical challenges, Shellie has been in a wheelchair her entire life. Social struggles made her life even more difficult, and everything around her seemed to tell her that she couldn’t accomplish anything.

When she first came to Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped in Hailey, ID, Shellie was closed, quiet and depressed, and she couldn’t read. Thanks to her team of volunteers incorporating word puzzles on the ground in the arena into her regular lesson plan, she is now able to read stories with only a little bit of assistance. Through her years at Sagebrush, Shellie has grown more confident. While her life has been hard, she has developed perseverance and an attitude that says she can do anything.

When she first came to Sagebrush, she was very afraid: of the horses, of the lift used to help her mount, of being up off the ground. Despite her concerns, she would take a big breath and say, “Okay, I’m ready!” She has bravely faced her fears with smiles, hugs, growing self-confidence and a huge amount of courage.

Despite her struggles, she is committed to coming to her session each week. She is always concerned about the health, happiness and overall wellbeing of the horses, the volunteers, the center’s staff, and all the other riders. Each week before her lesson, she takes a moment with her team to say a prayer for everyone who participates in the program. She recognizes the blessings she has received through therapeutic riding, and she wishes to give back what she can to everyone involved with the center.

Lindsey Jameson, Sagebrush’s program director, says, “No matter how bad Shellie is feeling, she always feels better when she comes to the center. This is a place where she can relax, be herself, open up and confide in her team, and enjoy the experience of riding. It is as if when she’s on the horse, her spirit is set free.”

It is with great pride that we name Shellie Muzzey the PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian of the Year.

Jacob O'Brien
It has often been said that PATH International Centers couldn’t do the wonderful work they do without volunteers. No one exemplifies that more than Jacob O’Brien of Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center in Richland, MI, region 4. Jacob has been with the program since he was 9, first as a student and then as a volunteer when he was 13, and he does anything that needs doing, logging now more than 200 hours a month.

As anyone who works in a center knows, there are many times that volunteers fluctuate, and Cheff is no exception. But Jacob comes in on a regular basis on days he is not scheduled simply because he heard that the center might be short and he wanted to be available.

Jacob is an integral part of the center’s activities, including interaction with riders. A new rider was very nervous about the entire horse experience. Jacob took notice of his nerves and stepped in to offer his assistance, sharing with this rider his own experiences from when he first started riding. In his calm, quiet and reassuring manner, he worked with this new rider, assuring him that the experience would be safe and fun. He worked as the off-side spotter in the mounting process and reassured the rider that he would stick with him throughout the ride. He helped give the rider the confidence and reassurance he needed. Kim Henning, the volunteer coordinator and instructor at Cheff, said, “It is at times like this that as an instructor I truly appreciate the impact a really wonderful volunteer can have on a rider and a lesson.” Tara East, Cheff’s executive director, said, “He is a shining example of everything a great volunteer should be and everything our program stands to accomplish.”

It is an honor and a privilege to name Jacob PATH International’s Volunteer of the Year.

Ryan Ohrmundt
Ryan Ohrmundt first came to BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center in Harvard, IL, region 7, because of high anxiety and stress when he returned home from War. His anxiety interfered with his life so intensely that he had to quit his job and find one less intense. Ryan soon found what can be accomplished through the power of the horse to change lives.

Ryan has been able to use riding as a detachment to clear his mind and reduce his anxiety levels. He enjoys riding because, as he says, he does not associate it to anything else in his life. It is the one time he truly is at peace. As soon as he enters the barn for his lessons, his entire demeanor changes. He lights up as he sees his horse and immediately appears calm and collected. He is gentle, loving and kind to every horse he rides.

Ryan’s gratitude for the Horses for Heroes program comes through as he introduces others to the program and as he helps out before and after lessons to keep the facility clean.

Whether it is grooming and tacking his horse, riding independently or participating in therapeutic driving, Ryan exhibits and eagerness to learn. In fact, he chooses to ride the horses that others feel can be difficult at times so that he can challenge himself. He rides once a week preparing for upcoming horse shows, demonstrations and drill team events.

Ryan truly deserves the PATH International Horses for Heroes award as he is the essence of what equine-assisted activities and therapies can accomplish.

Lara Oles
Lara Oles first became involved at National Ability Center in Park City, UT, a few years after an accident left her with limited use of her right side. Prior to her accident, she had been an avid equestrian and dressage competitor, and although she had worked herself up to riding her own horse independently, she was still lacking the confidence and skills to progress her skills to her pre-accident level. Shortly after attending the World Equestrian Games and witnessing the Para Dressage competition, she was inspired to reach farther than she thought possible and dream of one day competing herself in Para Dressage.

Toward this goal, Lara has been determined and hard working. Her drive to increase her skills and get back to the level she once rode at is amazing and her positive attitude is infectious.

Her instructor says, “The day Lara came into our center for the first time, I knew I had to be on top of my game! She came in with such determination and drive to start training for her personal goal of one day being in the Para Dressage games that there was never a moment of down time. From the start, we were setting goals only to break them in a matter of lessons.”

She had only been with the center for a few weeks when she first cantered. The sense of accomplishment that spread over her face was a joy to see. She told the staff that it had been since before her accident that she had allowed herself to trust the horse and herself enough to canter. Through this special relationship with her horse, she has allowed him to teach her the idiosyncrasies of the cues and feel of how they are supposed to be executed as he allows her to learn.

Lara’s drive for personal achievement has been an inspiration to other participants and staff, making her worthy of being name the PATH Intl. 2011 Independent Adult Equestrian of the Year.

Carly Renguette
Life changes in the blink of an eye. Most riders at PATH Intl. Centers come for equine-assisted activities and therapies because of a disability they were born with. But for Carly Renguette, our Youth Equestrian of the Year, life changed dramatically when she sustained a cervical spinal cord injury that left her a spastic quadriplegic and placed her first on a ventilator then in a wheelchair. Carly knows in a way that others sometimes do not what she has lost. And yet this 16-year-old young woman doesn’t complain and is always smiling. Her therapist at Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program said, “Even on the days she is in pain or having difficulty breathing, she always wants to try ‘just one more thing.’” 

Carly is a vocal proponent of EAAT, sending an email update about her progress to over 100 people. She has given speeches about program benefits and has participated in fundraisers. Most notably, she gave a 15 minute presentation in which she told her story to over 160 people and created a slideshow showing her progression since beginning her equestrian activities. 

Carly has progressed from a wheelchair to a walker and is now using arm crutches. Just recently she walked independently. As with most people, she was excited but a little scared on her first ride. Her white knuckles as she held on to the reins showed her nervousness. She needed side walkers to hold on to her to keep her balance and she only made it a few laps. But now? She rides rarely touching the saddle except to take a break. She once challenged herself and stood up in the stirrups for 20 laps just to say she could do it.

Carly credits her progress to horseback riding and wants to become either a physical or occupational therapist, incorporating hippotherapy into her practice. She says she wants to make a difference in other people’s lives. Little does she know, she already has. We are proud to name her PATH Intl.’s 2011 Youth Equestrian of the Year.

Sometimes a horse seems destined to work with those who have special needs. Valentino, a Tennessee Walking Horse Cross in Region 5, was abandoned as a yearling and left completely alone in a pasture. Neighbors fed him when they could and called an equine rescue when he turned three, after he had been alone and neglected for more than a year.

At the same time, Therapeutic Animal Partners in Spring Hill, TN, was looking for fresh horses for its center. “We decided to consider bringing this one particular horse to our center,” says Director Terri Knauer. “After watching his training sessions at the state horse fair we were hooked. He was young, the perfect height for a therapy horse and full of potential.”

Valentino was adopted and trained specifically for EAAT. Every center needs a “go-to” horse, and Valentino is that. He is quiet, intelligent, kind and patient with his riders, intuiting when to respond to an exact cue and when to build confidence in a rider by giving the intended response. His eager attitude for interaction with participants shows that he loves his lessons. He loves toys and games and sometimes breaks a tense moment by picking up a toy in his mouth to help a frustrated rider.

One child came to the center missing the horse she used to ride at another center. On being introduced, Valentino gently blew on her neck then dropped his head so they could look into each other’s eyes, and the two held each other’s gaze for half a minute. That moment bonded these two and gave this young girl the hope that she could find love, trust, confidence and companionship with another horse.

Like many of PATH International participants, Valentino has overcome adversity and has found a permanent home as the rock of Therapeutic Animal Partners’ program.

Tracy Weber
Tracy Weber is the chair of the Community Initiatives Work Group behind the launch of the new member benefit, Community Connections. This effort grew out of the EFP/EFL Membership Task force chaired by Leif Hallberg, who is now working with PATH Intl. on a contract basis to launch the community initiative. Tracy is a relatively new volunteer to PATH Intl. although she has logged many volunteer hours with other organizations. Her unique approach has been refreshing as this new membership program takes off. She has experience as a marketing director, researcher, executive director of a non-profit, entrepreneur, farm owner and is considered a pioneer in the field of equine-assisted learning. She is passionate about integrating experiential learning and a holistic world view in to her farm program and faculty work with several universities where her focus is on leadership and relationship management. With a master and doctorate in the field of education, she has helped those launching PATH Intl. Community Connections embrace a member-driven, user-defined initiative.

Congratulations 2010 Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Exemplary Award Winners!


2010 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian
Recognition Award
Reino Taveras
Region 1
Horse Power, Inc., Temple, NH
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


2010 PATH Intl. Child Equestrian Award
Evan Dustan
Region 6
Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc., Racine, WI


PATH Intl. Independent Adult Equestrian Recognition Award
Sean McGinnis
Region 3
Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program, Clifton, VA
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian Recognition Award
Sam Bemis
Region 11
Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Petaluma, CA
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes of the Year
Gregory Rodriguez
Region 7
BraveHearts at the Bergmann Centre, Poplar Grove, IL
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


PATH Intl. Sis Gould Award
Eileen Leek
Region 8
Riding Unlimited, Ponder, TX
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


PATH Intl. Equine of the Year Award, Sponsored by American Quarter Horse Association
Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship
Pullman, WA
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


2010 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year
Recognition Award
Carol Ten Broek
Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, Inc.
Tryon, NC
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


2010 PATH Intl. Instructor of the Year
Recognition Award, Sponsored by Purina
Roxanne C. Elliott-Crandall
Main Stay Therapeutic Riding Program, Richmond, IL
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)


2010 PATH Intl. James Brady
Professional Achievement
Molly Sweeney
Horses and Humans Research Foundation


 2010 PATH Intl. President's Award
Teresa Morris
PATH Intl. Past Board President
Program Director, Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center
Chagrin Falls, OH
(Premier Accredited Center)


2010 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Programs and Standards
Ainslie Kraeck


2010 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Membership
Kelly Hall


2010 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership
Recognition Award: Education
Lynn Petr
Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding
Lenoir City, TN

Region 1 Equine of the Year Duncan Flying High Farm Lunenburg, MA
Instructor of the Year Susan Lutz

Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)

Boxford, MA
Volunteer of the Year Colleen Dichard UpReach Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Goffstown, NH
Region 2 Equine of the Year Bandito's Toy Boy "Toy" Heritage Christian Stables
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Webster, NY
Instructor of the Year Nicole Whilden Heritage Christian Stables
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Webster, NY
Volunteer of the Year Michelle Baranowske STAR Equestrian Center Hagerstown, MD
Region 3 Equine of the Year Hawk Heroes on Horseback
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Bluffton, SC
Instructor of the Year Tracy Vyrnes Misty Meadows Mitey Riders, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Waxhaw, NC
Volunteer of the Year Carol Ten Broek Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Tryon, NC
Region 4 Equine of the Year Jacquie O Achievement Centers for Children--Camp Cheerful
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Strongsville, OH
Instructor of the Year Amy Newman Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Augusta, MI
Volunteer of the Year Beverly Thompson The Equestrian Therapy Program(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center) Cridersville, OH
Region 5 Equine of the Year Magic Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy Bradenton, FL
Instructor of the Year NA
Volunteer of the Year Twila Stringer Montgomery Area Nontraditional Equestrians
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Pike Road, AL
Region 6 Equine of the Year Amlet Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc. Racine, WI
Instructor of the Year Katherine Kneesel Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program, Inc. Racine, WI
Volunteer of the Year Robert (Bob) Nielsen We Can Ride, Inc.
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Minnetonka, MN
Region 7 Equine of the Year Taco Walk On Barrington, IL
Instructor of the Year Roxanne C. Elliott-Crandall Main Stay Therapeutic Riding Prrogram
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Richmond, IL
Volunteer of the Year Nate Harris Therapeutic Horsemanship
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wentzville, MO
Region 8 Equine of the Year Mr. Big Riding Unlimited
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Ponder, TX
Instructor of the Year Jen Donahue EQUEST
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wylie, TX
Volunteer of the Year Ken Suggerman EQUEST
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Wylie, TX
Region 9 Equine of the Year Striker Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship Pullman, WA
Instructor of the Year NA
Volunteer of the Year Phil Simmons NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center Bellingham, WA
Region 10 Equine of the Year Canyon Horse Warriors/CIREQUUS Jackson, WY
Instructor of the Year Michelle Weed Horses Help
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Phoenix, AZ
Volunteer of the Year Kari Dean Loving Thunder Therapeutic Riding Rio Rancho, NM
Region 11 Equine of the Year Katydid Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Petaluma, CA
Instructor of the Year Sandy Webster Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center
(PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center)
Petaluma, CA
Volunteer of the Year Nance Limbacher Over The Reinbow, Inc. Martinez, CA

More about the Award Winners - Coming Soon

2010 PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian Recognition Award

Reino Taveras
In 2006, during a horse race, the leading horse fell due to broken leg and was killed instantly by a broken neck. World-class jockey Reino Taveras was thrown and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was told he would never ride a horse again.

Where many would have given up, Reino was willing and determined to face the very thing that changed his life and he has the courage and perseverance to overcome any obstacle.

His first mounted lesson was in September 2009. As he was getting ready to mount from the ramp, the instructor said “Riders Up” and the beam from his face could have lit up a race track in the night. As the lesson progressed, it was clear that this former jockey had not lost his touch. He had wonderful balance, gave his mount lots of pats, steered with one hand and simply felt comfortable again on a horse.

When Reino was asked what he would like as a goal for himself, he said, “To race again.” One big goal for him was to ride independently again. Reino has now gone from needing a leader and sidewalker to being completely independent.

Occasionally he is physically unable to complete certain exercises due to his brain injury, but his spirits are always high and he always gives his best. As Terry Devlin, the program director at Horse Power, says, “He is a very sweet, patient, loving life soul. He has managed to touch so many in so many ways.”

Reino is a manifestation of hope and perseverance to all who know him. He is PATH Intl.’s Adult Equestrian of the Year.

2010 PATH Intl. Child Equestrian Award

Evan Dustan
Evan has autism, and overcoming his sensory issues made equine therapy a challenge at first. He would hide under a blanket if new people were around. Loud noises disrupted him. Then two years ago, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

But if anyone has known the power of the horse to change lives, it is Evan. As one volunteer said, “Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about the whole situation is that for a child with autism who spent over a year in the hospital and had to end almost all aspects of normal life, the one thing he has hung onto is his love for horses and this program.”

When Evan is on a horse, he is a different child. He loves to trot and he picked up how to post in one lesson. He loves riding with a surcingle, because he loves to do tricks. His favorite is to do a backward flip off the horse!

Stephanie Kubarth, director of Midwest Therapeutic Riding Program, says, “Here is a child who went from major sensory issues, shutting down, and having melt downs to a child who asks if he can ride in our fundraisers. Less than a month from our fundraiser, he went septic, and we almost lost him. He was in ICU with two one-on-one nurses, and his priest was called in. When he was able to start talking again, all he talked about was getting better because he had a fundraiser he had to ride in.” With unbelievable determination, Evan got better and was able to ride in the fundraiser. The stands were filled with staff from the hospital, and when he dismounted and walked over to the emcee, he received a standing ovation.

With his deep love of horses and his PATH Intl. center, Evan truly deserves the title Child Equestrian of the Year.

2010 PATH Intl. Independent Adult Equestrian Recognition Award

Sean McGinnis
If you asked Sean McGinnis to describe his long-term goals and ambitions, he would say that he wants to be involved in the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program as much as possible. Sean is not just a rider with this program, but is also a volunteer. He cares for the horses in both feeding and mucking the stalls and as has taken on projects such as digging trenches for water control.

His greatest skill is his ability to connect with the horses, especially the horse he rides most often, Harmony. Elizabeth Schneck, a volunteer and a PATH Intl. instructor-in-training, says, “He listens and remembers the comments made by his peers and by me. More importantly, he listens to his horse, Harmony, and remembers what she communicates to him. When riding, he thinks of how his riding affects her. He tries to engage Harmony in a dialogue, a conversation.”

Christina Knott, another volunteer, agrees. “He is always upbeat and energetic when it comes to volunteering and riding. The first day I observed him in a lesson, I noticed that he and Harmony had a rapport and synergy I rarely see.”

Harmony is a horse who, like many of us with special needs, is hesitant about the world around her. She requires a rider who gives her the confidence and assurance she lacks. Sean provides this for her.

Sean is very kind and gentle with the horses, thinking more about their needs than his own. He is able to calm his energy and relate to all of the horses in the barn.

Elizabeth summed up his abilities and his heart for riding when she said, “His strength,” she says, “is that he thinks and rides with his heart. He has the gift a rider can’t be taught.”

2010 PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian Recognition Award

Sam Bemis
Sandy Webster of Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center has had the opportunity to see the progress and positive changes in many people with disabilities. One such individual was Sam Bemis. When Sam came to Giant Steps over a year ago, Sandy says, “He had no friends his age, and he was getting into nasty fights on a regular and routine basis. He would not even make eye contact, not with anyone, when he first joined our center’s program. But he began to develop an outstanding rapport with his horse Scarlet, a bit of a loner herself, not always comfortable with the other horses. These two, horse and rider, had a common issue.”

As Sam’s riding skills flourished, so did his bond with Scarlet. He began to take pride in caring for her, looking out for her around the other horses, always making sure her water was topped off and clean.

Sam was invited to participate in the center’s drill team, and he began to interact more with his peers and with the volunteers. He began to look them in eye and exhibited a tremendous willingness to participate and be a volunteer himself. Sandy says, “Hungry to learn and eager to accelerate, Sam came to orientation and training with a serious attitude toward his education in this area, and he has never missed a class of volunteering since he began. He is now wonderful with the little children with disabilities, showing genuine compassion and empathy for their needs and self-esteem.”

Sam is excited to perform with the drill team at the Region 11 conference in June, and he has informed staff that he someday wants to be a PATH Intl. therapeutic riding instructor.

Through equine-assisted activities, Sam is letting nothing get in his way!

2010 PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes Recognition Award
Gregory Rodriguez
Gregory Rodriguez had two dreams in life – to be the best Marine possible and to ride horses. As a proud member of the United States Marine Corps, Greg’s first dream was cut short by a devastating auto accident just prior to him being deployed to Iraq, which left him with a serious traumatic brain injury. While receiving treatment, he learned of a program that could provide therapy to aid in his recovery while helping to fulfill his second dream of riding horses. Greg became one of the first Veteran participants at BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding Center in Harvard, Illinois.

When Greg first came off the bus in his wheelchair, he was barely able to communicate. He mounted a smaller horse using a wheelchair lift and then rode with two sidewalkers and a leader. He only lasted 20 minutes before complete exhaustion took over. Now, four years after his injury, Greg walks off the bus unassisted, mounts from the mounting block with little assistance from the instructor, and begins his ride, no sidewalkers, no leader. Just Greg and his horse, the achievement of a dream.

Even as a physically challenged rider, Greg embodies those qualities that made him a great Marine: courage, strength, determination, loyalty and pride. A tragic accident may have robbed him of one dream, but nothing has kept him from achieving his dream of becoming a true horseman.

Tom Chambers, the general manager for BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center, writes, “Greg is the embodiment of what a true military man should be. He is proud, determined, committed and an example his peers can look up to. His mind, body and spirit are the essence of what we would wish for every veteran who participates in the Horses for Heroes program.”

2010 PATH Intl. Equine of the Year Recognition Award, Sponsored by American Quarter Horse Association 

It seems almost as if Striker were destined to be a therapy horse. While still a successful youth show horse, his teenaged owner was in a serious car accident, which left her in a coma with multiple broken bones and a severe closed head injury. With his picture by her bed and because of her desire to ride him again, Striker became her incentive to recover. Seven months after the accident, she rode him for the first time on a lunge line. “He was just an amazing horse,” she said. “He gave so much. He would just keep going, no matter what.”

When Striker came to the Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship center in Pullman, Washington, they knew they had a great horse. “He is extremely patient and tolerant with our riders,” said one instructor. His unflappable attitude and consistent nature inspire confidence in riders.”

One rider who has gained confidence from Striker is Sam Solan, a teenager with autism, who has been riding Striker for several years. “They say a child needs to have just one special individual in their life,” says Virginia, Sam’s mother. “If you have that one individual, your prognosis for success goes way up, especially if you are a child who is isolated, different. A special horse is just such an individual for my son.

“Since the day when their eyes first met, Sam has been devoted to this beautiful, patient horse. … Working with Striker has inspired him to focus on another’s feelings rather than his own. This horse is always responsive and alert, and quickly obeys all of Sam’s instructions. Striker has dedicated his life to connecting with children who desperately need connections. He is a fine example of the most noble of horses.” 

2010 PATH Intl. Sis Gould Award
Eileen Leek
Eileen has quite a varied background in the equine industry. She was born and raised in England where she was the only “horsey” person in the family. After marrying and moving to the United States, she began riding in earnest, competing in hunter and dressage shows. When her daughter Jillian was born, she became heavily involved in Pony Club and also began volunteering at a local therapeutic riding center. This led to her becoming a certified instructor.

In 2004, Eileen came to a beginning driving clinic taught by me and she was bitten by the driving bug. Since then, she has accomplished so much. She was my co-presenter at a Region 8 conference with a program entitled “The Value of Miniature Horses to a Therapeutic Riding and Driving Program.” She was all for helping – as long as she got to drive and didn’t have to talk. She helped many EAAT professionals realize the value not only of miniature horses, but also of driving.

Eileen and I perform with our students in many driven drill team competitions and she also exhibits with individual drivers at the Chisholm Challenge and Cedar Creek ADS competition. She is currently working on getting driving approved as a demonstration class at State Special Olympics.

Eileen’s joy in driving is very clear. She competes at the Prelim level in CDE competition and never misses an opportunity to drive. She offers her talents to two centers, belongs to two driving clubs and serves on the board of directors of Tejas Carriage Association. But most of all, she is an advocate for Therapeutic Driving, always looking for ways to expand the programs where she is involved, as well as looking for venues for her students to showcase their skills. 

2010 PATH Intl. Volunteer of the Year Recognition Award
Carol Ten Broek

As soon as Foothills Equestrian Nature Center in Tryon was formed, Carol Ten Broek jumped in with both feet to volunteer. She started as a program volunteer but within a year had become the volunteer recruiter and coordinator. This daunting task includes coordinating the schedules of approximately 50 volunteers as they currently assist with 17 riders and 8 horses, including transporting the horses for all 60 lesson days. In addition, Carol represents the center at community functions and takes the lead in recognizing other volunteers’ efforts through tokens of appreciation, personalized cards and an appreciation dinner. When she isn’t coordinating the volunteers, she’s in the ring serving as a sidewalker or leader as needed.

All of this would be enough for any volunteer. But Carol doesn’t stop there. Because the Therapeutic Riding Center of Tryon is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center, Carol has taken it upon herself to understand PATH Intl.’s standards and procedures so that all the volunteers conform to PATH Intl. standards. She keeps current on the latest training techniques so the center’s volunteers function effectively, and she attends talks and workshops to improve her own skills as a volunteer and as a volunteer coordinator.

Norman Powers says of Carol, “She is the perfect example of how a small program in a relatively rural area can grow on the energy, dedication and passion of individuals like her. In many ways, she has become the face of our program, known throughout the community for her involvement and commitment. Without her, our small but growing program could never have commenced or continued to operate.”

It is with pleasure that we name Carol Ten Broek PATH Intl. 2010 Volunteer of the Year. 

2010 PATH Intl. Instructor of the Year Recognition Award, Sponsored by Purina
Roxanne Elliott-Crandall

Easy to measure are Roxanne Elliott-Crandall’s long hours at Main Stay Therapeutic Riding Program, her range of responsibilities, her teaching aptitude and talent with equines. What is hard to measure is her ability to care, the depth of her willingness to do what is right, her compassion and her unwillingness to let the standards of her PATH Intl. program slip. The huge heart she shares with each of her unique students, the encouragement she gives volunteers when they need extra insight into a particular horse, and her unconditional love for the center’s families is unsurpassed.

A co-worker writes, “From the first time I watched her teach, her abilities were obvious! She was a natural teacher and had an easy, real bond with her student, the horse and the family – all necessary traits in our industry … Her natural talent allows her to find the utmost ability in all of her students and reach their souls while doing it. All of her students light up and shine when she comes round the corner.”

One parent writes, “My daughter, Sierra, has been riding with Roxanne for several years. I have watched her go from a little girl with a leader and two sidewalkers to a confident young lady who now rides independently …. As a parent you always want the best for your child, and I never imagined finding an instructor who goes above and beyond to make my child feel truly wonderful and give her so much knowledge about horses and riding. It brings me to tears, happy of course, to think of the wonderful connection Sierra has with this instructor.”

Roxanne gives so much from her heart to her students. She represents the best in our industry. She is PATH Intl.’s 2010 Instructor of the Year. 

2010 PATH Intl. President’s Award
Teresa Morris

Teresa is the Program Director at PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center, Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Her program currently serves 792 participants with 35 horses and nearly 400 volunteers. Teresa’s bold innovation has resulted in Fieldstone offering the only therapeutic riding high school in the country, helping students who require an alternative learning environment. In addition to Gaitway High School, the center offers: academic enrichment, carriage driving, competition opportunities, EquiClub which provides social and experiential learning opportunities, Equine Adventure Club summer camp, hippotherapy, instructor training Program, work experience, and  therapeutic riding lessons.

Her enthusiasm for this industry and PATH Intl., the association, is infectious. Teresa has been a PATH Intl. member since 1992 and is a PATH Intl. Advanced-level Certified Instructor. She is also the past-president of the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees. She has been a PATH Intl. Accreditation Site Visitor since 2000 and has served on the Programs and Standards Committee and as the Region 4 representative. 

Teresa has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

2010 PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award
Molly Sweeney

Molly is a lifelong horse-woman, born into a strongly equine-focused family. She claims that horses simply are in her genes.
When endorsements started arriving in the mail to nominate Molly for this prestigious James Brady award, the warm accolades were impressive and touching.

One of the endorsements read: “I write at this time to give my strongest possible endorsement and support that Molly Sweeney should be presented with the 2010 James Brady Award. Frankly, I am a little dumbfounded that we have not given it to her already! Her efforts on behalf of Equine assisted activities, SIRE, PATH Intl., and the Horses for Humans Research Foundation, are legion, and legend. What is even more outstanding, however, is that she has accomplished all these things with exceptional grace and kindness.”

In fact, stability might be the word that characterizes Molly the best. She melds her lofty visions into a methodical, steady and a stabilizing influence on any meeting or endeavor she joins. Usually Molly is taking a leadership role, but she is just as comfortable being a committee member or even as a member at large of our association. Regardless of the role, she keeps the group focused and communicating in ways that get things accomplished.

Joelle Devlin told us Molly’s affiliation with Equine Assisted Activities started in 1989, when Molly decided to donate a saddle to SIRE, which was then a small program in Houston, TX. Molly loved the concept of EAA and started volunteering, and by 1994 had been recruited to the Board of Directors. By January, 1997, she was elected President of the Board. A position she held that position for 12 Years.

During her tenure and under her leadership, SIRE grew from serving 83 riders per week, to one of the largest programs in the country with 3 operating sites serving more than 200 students weekly. She was totally committed to not only her role as president of the board, but also her position as volunteer Equine Coordinator, responsible for the evaluation, selection and training of the SIRE horses – and of course as a fund raiser, donor, staff advocate, etc. If you drive out to the SIRE programs you will enter a road that is named “Molly Sweeney Way”

Molly’s vision is always large – so it was not a surprise that her next step was toward national affiliation on the PATH Intl. board in 1996. She served as Secretary of the board from 1998-2002 and was awarded the President’s Award in 2005 for her outstanding contributions to the Association.

Molly has also chaired a PATH Intl. national conference – but it was by default, and it was planned and carried out in record time that will probably never be duplicated in PATH Intl.’s history.

PATH Intl. staff member Kaye Marks said:

“Many will remember the fall of 2005 as the year of the gulf hurricanes. Some of you may not know that the PATH Intl. National Conference was originally scheduled that year to take place in New Orleans. We all hopelessly watched our televisions with hearts breaking for the victims of that dreadful disaster. But at the PATH Intl. office, even as we mourned, we were compelled to action – we had to shift into plan B mode regarding the conference - quickly. Molly Sweeney stepped in, like the angel she is, and helped us pull–off a great success story. We had a completely new staff, only one of whom had even been to a prior conference. Molly and her host committee helped us relocate to Houston and pull it all together in only four weeks. I’ll never forget the teamwork set into motion by Molly’s leadership. We will always be grateful.”

Molly, a strong believer in therapeutic riding, sensed a need for a planning and processing among the therapeutic riding leaders. In 2004 Molly hosted and sponsored a Masters’ Symposium. This was an invitational meeting for all PATH Intl. Master Instructors to gather to create a vision to guide the future. Many of the thoughts and ideas surfacing at that meeting became the springboard for projects that have moved the industry ahead in the years since.

The ultimate compliment we can pay Molly is to say she is a true horseman. She has been involved with horses from childhood, but more than simply the love and addiction so many of us share, Molly has studied the horse. She has approached that love as she does everything else in life – she looks for ways to help, to improve their welfare.

She has taken horsemanship to a new level, beyond expertise in riding and handling, into a realm of caring, communing and healing. She has an innate ability to comprehend and understand horses, and she has followed an educational path to acquire still more from other masters. The result is her uncanny aptitude to know and understand more than most horse lovers even imagine. If you were to observe her impact on ailing equines she would explain she simply facilitates energy work utilizing the life force – or energy - of a client to self heal.

Although Molly is not a researcher herself, she has never outgrown that childhood phase where one is always asking, but WHY? Molly recognized early that all EAA progress would hinge on learning the facts, not relying on anecdotal input. The field could not move forward without developing evidence-based practices through the highest levels of published scientific research. She was one of the first to recognize that until rigorous research was established everything would be held back, including fundraising, third party reimbursement, development of best practices, community acceptance and mainstreaming EAA into its rightful place in society.
When it did not appear that any existing organization was prepared to put the needed focus and funding into research, she stepped forward in her quiet, resolute, steady, focused manor and established a team to create a publicly funded foundation to guarantee the needed research would be realized. Her unwavering support and leadership of the Horses and Humans Research Foundation has already ignited exciting research results. Perhaps even more importantly, her efforts in establishing this foundation have helped spread interest in and commitment to rigorously developed research, creating the momentum needed to carry it into the desperately needed depths of achievement.

Molly has a lofty vision of a world where programming is available to all who would benefit from EAA, where medical and rehabilitation practitioners readily prescribe EAA, where equines are widely appreciated for their unique and remarkable attributes and where equine assisted activity and therapy programs receive third party reimbursement as well as generous sustainable support. What is more she is sincerely committed to turning that vision into reality. In fact, she will not stop until it is so.

2010 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership Recognition Award: Programs and Standards
Ainslie Kraeck

Ainslie Kraeck has been a member of PATH Intl. since 2001. She is a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced instructor, Accreditation Lead Visitor, Certification Lead Evaluator, Chair of the Accreditation Committee and a member of the Program and Standards Oversight committee. She served for four years as the Region 11 Representative and served as chair of the Region Council. She has chaired or helped with several Region 11 conferences. Ainslie was the co-chair for the 2007 PATH Intl. National Conference and Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA.

Ainslie has done so much on behalf of PATH Intl.. The quality the staff currently recognizes her for is her undaunted efforts at organizing the Accreditation Committee. She has been hard at work ensuring that this very important PATH Intl. committee offers our members consistency and clarity on how the committee members make the decisions they do, how they can work more efficiently using online/electronic technology, and it documents its processes.

Recently an associate visitor had to back out of a site visit two days before the visit when she became ill. Rather than trying to reschedule the visit, staff picked up the phone and asked Ainslie if she wanted to travel across the country the next day. She booked a ticket and headed out. That’s typical Ainslie. 

2010 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership Recognition Award: Membership
Kelly Hall

Kelly Hall was born into a horse family, landed her first job in the horse industry at age 15 and discovered therapeutic riding in her early 20's. With a $1,500 grant, assistance from her family, and a group of volunteers, she started Equi-Partners on her family farm in 1995. Working with local mental health and foster care agencies, children and teens participated in equine assisted therapy activities.

During this time, Kelly completed a Master of Social Work degree. Her experience with Equi-Partners led to an invitation from the dean at Ohio University Southern to join the faculty and start a therapeutic riding program. Soon after, she became a PATH Intl. Master Level Instructor. Kelly has been actively involved in PATH Intl. since 1995. As a Group II Faculty Member at O.U. Southern, she is currently the Director of the Equine Studies Program and oversees a four track Associates Degree Program. She also coaches the Inter-scholastic Dressage Team and teaches a course for the Human Services Technology program. The Ohio Horse Park Center for Therapeutic Riding is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center. The center also provides training for university students who seek to work within the therapeutic riding industry.
Kelly joined the regrouped PATH Intl. Higher Educaton Committee in 2009, co-chairing with Denny Smith throughout the review and board approval process of the new membership category after having served on the original Higher Ed committee several years back. She tirelessly listened to feedback from other committees and members, recommended adjustments to the membership and has contributed personal and student practicum hours in support of the launch. Her efforts along with the other members of the task force have resulted in three universities and colleges signing on as new PATH Intl. members.

2010 PATH Intl. Volunteer Leadership Recognition Award: Education
Lynn Petr

Lynn is the founder and Executive Director/Program Director of Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR) in Lenoir City, TN a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center. Lynn has been a member of PATH Intl. since 1979 and a life member since 2005. She is also a PATH Intl. Certified Advanced instructor, PATH Intl. Accreditation Lead Visitor, CAT Faculty, Associate Visitor Training Faculty, and served four years as the Region 5 Representative. Lynn has presented at the PATH Intl. National Conference and at region conferences and hosted the region 5 conference at STAR in 2009.

Lynn's latest volunteer incarnation is an exciting and challenging one. She now serves as the chair of the Education Oversight committee. Supporting educational content for PATH Intl.'s various programs has historically been developed within the program or certification committee. Ensuring that there is a longer view plan for refining and enhancing educational content is a challenging assignment. To that end, she created a work group to assess the way PATH Intl. trains its faculty that then trains evaluators and site visitors. She is participating in the discussions about separating education and certification. She is leading the discussion about a potential PATH Intl. text book and updating PATH Intl. educational publications.

Either Lynn likes working on the assignments for which there is the least amount of direction or she just really loves a challenge. Either way, the PATH Intl. staff loves her commitment and style.


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