What is the association's new name?

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

That's a mouthful! Is there an abbreviation to use verbally and in print?

It is acceptable to say PATH International and even abbreviate it to PATH Intl. in print, although we encourage people for a great long while to use the full name until it becomes more familiar.

What is the objective of the new name?

The new name will communicate the essence of the organization and promote future growth and expansion. The new name is comprehendible and recognizable.

What is the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International tagline?

Ensuring excellence and changing lives through equine-assisted activities and therapies.

Why was the name change necessary?


  • The previous name was deemed obsolete because of the word "handicapped," which is inappropriate, outdated terminology
  • The previous name did not convey the breadth of the organization and its disciplines, previously limited to riding
  • The previous name did not convey international growth
  • The previous name did not include the mental health field


What was the process for determining the new name?

The board of trustees appointed a name change task force to explore new names and taglines and to validate them through research.

The board agreed a new name should communicate the essence of the organization and promote future growth and expansion. They concurred that the name must be more effective at communicating in order to achieve strategic goals for growth and expansion. The intent was to have a name that allowed for potential support and funding from untapped resources.

The name change initiative had already been in progress for many years, and preliminary work had been done. The organization had already reached out to membership for input. The World Café process was administered at the regional meetings and at the 2009 National Conference. An on-line survey was also deployed to the membership and responses were captured. Four groups were included in the survey test: 1) NARHA membership, 2) MDs/PTs/OTs/ Psychiatrists/ Psychotherapists, 3) Equine Enthusiasts, 4) Mass Consumers outside the industry. (Email lists were purchased and/or donated.)

The name change research results were conclusive in that the name Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International is comprehendible and recognizable.

What were the research findings?

Responses were compiled at the NARHA headquarters and qualitative responses were grouped for quantitative analysis and interpretation. This data was compiled and ranked in order of importance.
Name: Based on the clear and concise findings (39% of total respondents chose this name), the board of trustees approved to changed the name to Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. This choice was reinforced by the second ranked choice (31% of total respondents chose this name), Therapeutic Horsemanship International, since it shares the same core terminology “therapeutic horsemanship.” All stakeholder groups selected the names in the same rank order in the additional analysis by key stakeholder groups.

Tagline: The top ranked tag-line was "Ensuring excellence and changing lives through equine-assisted activities and therapies." The only group that chose a different tagline was the non-member group. They chose “Helping People with Special Needs through the Healing Power of the Horse.” The task force determined that “Raising Standards of Excellence and Changing Lives through Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies” was the second choice among non-members and does a better job of defining the role of the organization inside of the industry. One of the core guidelines was that the branding and naming help position the organization within the industry and not confuse the organization with a center. The tagline results were somewhat polarized between the medical professionals and the non-members. Medical professionals preferred the recommended language at 45% opposed to 22% for “Helping People with Special Needs through the Healing Power of the Horse.” For these reasons, the task force recommended using the modified tagline which is supported by members and the    medical community, two very important stakeholder groups.

How will the name change impact me (general)?

All members will see changes to the website, publications and educational materials as the roll-out continues. Other than that, and some getting used to regarding using the new name in conversation (Hey, a 40-year habit could be hard to break!), everything will be business as usual.

As an instructor or equine specialist, what changes will I see?

You will see changes to the association website, publications and educational materials as the new name is rolled out. Other than that, everything will be business as usual. All instructors and Equine Specialists in good standing should watch their mail for an instructor’s name change tool kit binder.

How will the name change impact our center?

You will see changes to the website, publications and educational materials as the new name is rolled out. Other than that, everything will be business as usual.

Centers have the freedom to update their materials as current supplies are exhausted and capacity allows. All we ask is that you do what you can to include the new name and logo, whenever you can. Centers are definitely NOT required to implement the change immediately. In        their 2011 renewal packet, centers will receive a PATH Intl. metal center sign and new logos on their Standards for Certification and Accreditation CD mailing, coming soon. We hope you will hang it in a prominent place in your facility, and when you see it pause and reflect with pride on the storied history and dynamic group of colleagues to which your center belongs.    

Announcing to the world the new, contemporary and accurately reflective name for your association should be great fun. It is not intended to create hardships for any centers or members, instead it will hopefully help you better explain the wonderful services your center offers.

In fact, as the association plans comprehensive and widespread media outreach to announce the launch, we encourage the centers to consider the same thing. The name change is a fun and exciting conversation starter. Take the opportunity to share with community members the fact that your center belongs to a progressive and growing industry and why the center is a member of a professional membership association. A name change press release template will be available for download from the My Center Membership section of

Why is the word ‘international’ in the name?

The word international may not have been an accurate reflection of the association years ago but it currently is accurate and we hope to continue to grow that influence. For instance, during one week in April 2011, PATH Intl. was host to two unrelated visits from delegations representing colleges in both Japan and South Korea.

PATH Intl. currently has members on all continents except Antarctica.

PATH Intl. staff members speak on a weekly basis to individuals from all over the world looking for direction, membership, certification or center information. The standards are purchased by foreign entities regularly. International corporations make inquiries, and international media representatives frequently contact PATH Intl. for EAAT information.

The current PATH Intl. strategic plan outlines Goal 1, Objective 2: Identify, analyze, prioritize, develop protocol and actively seek emerging national and international opportunities.

Many countries may not need or choose to include PATH Intl. in their educational, operational or organizational goals. However, many, many countries that are still developing their EAAT industries are coming to PATH Intl. for leadership direction in certification and accreditation.       The goal of PATH Intl. is to be a resource for those who need one.

On June 7, 2011 we added a flag counter to the homepage of In less than 24 hours we had unique visitors from 26 countries!!! As of 9 a.m., June 20, 2011 there are almost 80.

Is PATH Intl. competing with FRDI/HETI?

PATH Intl. has no intention of competing with HETI/FRDI. PATH Intl. is a certifying and accrediting body. HETI/FRDI does neither, nor do they have standards, educational workshops or materials. HETI/FRDI is an association/federation of associations. PATH Intl. has no interest in pursuing that mission.

The two organizations have non-competing mission specifics:
• HETI/FRDI mission: Our mission is to facilitate the worldwide collaboration between organizations and individuals whose objectives are philanthropic, scientific and educational in the field of equine assisted activities.

• PATH Intl. mission: PATH Intl. changes and enriches lives by promoting excellence in equine-assisted activities and therapies.

Why is the term ‘therapeutic’ being used?

While PATH Intl. will continue to use the industry accepted umbrella term equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) to describe the services provided by professionals in the industry, a broader, shorter, easily comprehended term was required to quickly and effectively  convey the mission of the association. The word therapeutic is used, not therapy which can only be provided by a licensed professional such as an OT/PT/SLP/Psychologist. Based upon the following terminology, therapeutic horsemanship was proposed and accepted for inclusion in the name.

Terminology FYI
•    The term Therapeutic Horsemanship as defined in the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation: equine activities organized and taught by instructors specifically trained to work with people with disabilities or diverse needs. The intent is for students to progress in equestrian skills while improving their cognitive, emotional, social and/or behavioral skills.
•    Therapeutic Activity as defined in the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation: an activity from which a participant derives benefit. An activity can be therapeutic without being considered a therapy or treatment. In general, equine assisted activities may be described as therapeutic, but are not considered treatment without fulfilling specific requirements.

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Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.)
, a federally-registered 501(c3) nonprofit, was formed in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association to promote equine-assisted services (EAS) for individuals with special needs. With nearly 4,800 certified instructors and equine specialists and 873 member centers, nearly 8.000 PATH Intl. members around the globe help almost 69,000 children and adults--including more than 6,700 veterans and active-duty military personnel--with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges find strength and independence through the power of the horse each year. In addition to therapeutic riding, our centers offer a number of therapeutic equine-related activities, including PT/OT/SLPs using equine movement, mental health incorporating equines in a treatment plan, driving, interactive vaulting, competition, groundwork and stable management. More recently, programs offer equine-assited leadership, services in human growth and development to serve wide-ranging audiences for such educational purposes as leadership training, team building and other human capacity enhancement skills for the workplace and for daily use. Click here to find a center near you.

PATH Intl. is the credentialing organization for accrediting centers and certifying instructors and equine specialists. Through our certification and accreditation programs, plus a wide variety of educational resources that includes an annual international conference that can attract close to 1,000 attendees, the association helps members start and maintain successful EAS programs. There are more than 61,500 volunteers, 4,776 credentialed professionals, 7,900 equines and thousands of contributors from all over the world at PATH Intl. Member Centers inspiring and enriching the human spirit.

  • Mailing Address: PO Box 33150 Denver, Colorado 80233
  • International Office Physical Address: 8670 Wolff Ct, Suite 210, Westminster, CO 80031
  • (800) 369-RIDE (7433)
  • Fax (303) 252-4610

The PATH Intl. Mission: We lead the advancement of professional equine-assisted services by supporting our members and stakeholders through rigorously developed standards, credentialing and education.

For a fun look at the global distribution of people who have visited the PATH Intl. website since June 7, 2011, visit our global maps page


Get Involved - Volunteer at a PATH Intl. Center

2008-56_smCurrently there are nearly 62,500 volunteers lending their time and a helping hand at Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) centers. By volunteering, you can learn about individuals with a variety of challenges, be with horses and enhance your social network. It’s a lot of FUN. You’ll gain tremendous satisfaction from watching participants improve physically, mentally and emotionally. But most of all, you will be making life brighter for individuals with special needs.

Most centers work with volunteers who are 14 years of age and older. However, children younger than 14 who have a strong horsemanship background are often considered.

Before accepting volunteers, most centers require individuals to attend a volunteer orientation to become familiar with the therapeutic riding environment. To learn more about volunteering, find and call one of the centers nearest you. Volunteers can learn more about equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) by becoming PATH Intl. members. All members receive PATH Intl.’s quarterly magazine, PATH Intl. Strides, and the electronic PATH Intl. eNews, loaded with useful information about EAAT. Join now!



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