Equine Specialist

ESMHL FAQ

Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning Certification
PATH Intl.  has provided the following FAQs to help clarify questions people may have about the Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning Certification. Visit the ESMHL page to download a copy of the ESMHL certification booklet and complete details on the requirements of the ESMHL certification. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or call (800) 369-RIDE (7433) with any additional questions you may have regarding the Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning certification or the workshop.

Who should take the Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning workshop?
How do I get this certification?
What is the practical skills test?
How do I sign up for a workshop and practical skills test?
How do I locate a workshop and pratical skills test?
What does this certification certify me to do?
Will the Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning certification be required for all existing PATH Intl. programs that offer EFP and EAL sessions?
What about EAL?
I have already attended an ES workshop in the past. Do I need to retake it?
Why should I attend the ESMHL workshop?
How do I get my 60 hours of experience in mental health or learning?
How do I get my 20 hours of experience in equine management?
I am a certified vaulting instructor performing EFL. Do I need to gain this certification to continue my interactive vaulting lessons?

1. Who should take the Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning workshop?

Anyone interested in learning more about equine-assisted learning (EAL) or equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP). This workshop is aimed at teaching equine behavioral and management skills as they relate to EAL and EFP as well as collaboration skills with the mental health or learning professional. It will touch on how to develop curricula that support treatment plans, volunteer management, equine interaction, your role as an ESMHL (Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning) and much more! While the focus in this workshop is on the equine specialist, we encourage any mental health professional or learning professional to attend, as this workshop is very educational and will help you to work better with your equine specialist partner. If you are currently performing EAL or EFP, this workshop would benefit you and your program; it will give you new ideas, best practices scenarios, tips for volunteer management, who to accept into your program, and of course how to best focus on proper horse handling and the physical/emotional care of the equine during all EFP and EAL sessions. The workshop is a requirement of the certification, so if you wish to become certified as an ESMHL you need to attend this workshop as it will only benefit you!

2. How do I get this certification?

Step 1: Attend a workshop and skills test. The prerequisite to attending a workshop and skills test is to be a current PATH Intl. individual member; there are not any preparatory items to complete. If you plan to complete the skills test after the workshop, horsemanship skills are necessary. It is beneficial to have horsemanship skills and experience when attending the workshop but it is not required.

Step 2: Review the portfolio requirements on page 5 of the ESMHL certification booklet, and when you are ready, mail your completed portfolio to the PATH Intl. office with a $95 fee.

Step 3: The PATH Intl. office will review your portfolio and within 30-45 business days will sign you up to take the PATH Intl. Online Standards exam and ESMHL exam. Upon completion of the exams and confirmation from the PATH Intl. office, your certification will be complete.

What is the practical skills test?

The skills test is held on day four following the ESMHL workshop. The un-mounted skills test is meant to test your horse handling ability/ground skills as well as how you relate to horses. This test is required for certification and can be taken at any point; the only prerequisite is to be a PATH Intl. member. Please see all details in the ESMHL certification booklet including the skills test criteria. The skills test is good for one year from the time of completion.

How do I sign up for a workshop and practical skills test?

Contact the hosting center for registration fees, and deadlines, and to obtain an application.  Pay the center directly to attend the workshop and skills test.

How do I locate a workshop and practical skills test?

All events are advertised in the PATH Intl. eNews and on the PATH Intl. events calendar on the web site. The events are listed in green and are titled ESMHL workshop and skills test.

What does this certification certify me to do?

This certification is meant to certify an individual as the equine specialist (horse handler, horse expert) in any un-mounted mental health or learning session. With this certification you can meet PATH Intl. standards, start up a PATH Intl. EAL or EFP program and PATH Intl. center and offer un-mounted activities with your participants.

Will the Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning certification be required in the future for all existing PATH Intl. programs that offer EFP and EFL sessions?

Yes, for EFP programs only. The equine specialist will be required to be present during all un-mounted EFP sessions. If a PATH Intl. center conducts mounted EFP sessions, the ESMHL must be present and directly supervised by a PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor (unless the ESMHL is dually certified as a PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor). Please see the updated PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation manual release, specifically the “Medical/Mental Health Standards” in the “Service Standards” section and the “Guidelines for Providing EFP” in the “Guidelines” section.

What about EAL?

In the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation manual, members can find EAL guidelines and definitions in the “Guidelines” section. PATH Intl. has not yet developed EAL standards; therefore, PATH Intl. centers can continue to run an EAL program without having a PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Your EAL programs will need to continue to be supervised by a PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor to meet standards if you choose not to employ an ESMHL. It is highly recommended to have a PATH Intl. Certified ESMHL for all EAL sessions, but it is not yet required.

However, if a center wishes to start an un-mounted EAL program, it is recommended that a PATH Intl. Certified ESMHL be employed.  In the future when EAL standards are developed, the ESMHL certification may be a requirement for EAL programs.

For more information, visit  https://www.pathintl.org/60-resources/efpl/1029-equine-assisted-learning

I have already attended an ES workshop in the past, do I need to retake it?

No. Your workshop will count toward certification. If you would like to retake it, you may do so. The fee is up to the host site and is not set by the PATH Intl. office. You can request to audit the workshop for a discounted fee. Auditing is only an option if you have already taken the workshop once.  The workshop is good for two years from the date you took it.

Why should I attend the ESMHL workshop?

The PATH Intl. office highly recommends anyone who would like to offer EAL and EFP to attend this workshop. The feedback received after individuals attend this workshop is very positive. Many appreciate the information given in the workshop and find that it provides so much assistance in creating or improving their own EFP or EAL programs. Most participants come home wondering why there are so many individuals performing EAL and EFP without taking the workshop. This workshop will only create more understanding and professionalism within PATH Intl. and the equine-assisted activities and therapies industry.

How do I get my 60 hours of experience in mental health or learning?

You can locate PATH Intl. centers that offer EAL and EFP sessions using our Find a Center link on the web site. It would be wonderful to gain all 60 hours in an EAL or EFP session. For the 60 hours there are two options.  With option 1 all the hours can be performed in a PATH Intl. EAL or EFP program, under a PATH Intl. Certified  Instructor or at a PATH Intl. center. Option 2 includes 30 hours in a PATH Intl. program offering equine-assisted activities (therapeutic riding, driving, vaulting, etc.) and 30 hours in the mental health and learning field in your community, such as a group home or special needs learning school, etc.

The hours are active hours, just like continuing education hours. This means only the hours you are volunteering/participating in a session, school or group home count. The hours you may need to prepare, do lesson plans, prepare horses, read about students, etc., do not count toward this requirement.  Your hours can be performed at any time and do not expire.

How do I get my 20 hours of experience in equine management?

Topics could include classes on equine first aid, equine anatomy, equine conformation, equine gait  and lameness, equine nutrition, hoof care, herd dynamics, biosecurity or lungeing to name a few. These hours could come from PATH Intl. regional or international events, EPONA, EAGALA, AIA, natural horsemanship clinics, 4-H, Pony Club, colleges, for example, with no more than 10 hours at one event or training. Hours can be started at any time, do not expire and can be counted from anytime in your career.

12. I am a certified vaulting instructor performing EAL. Do I need to gain this certification to continue my interactive vaulting lessons?

No. At this time PATH Intl. does not require anyone to have this certification to participate in EAL, only if you participate in EFP. Please see the EAL guidelines in the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation  manual and offer any feedback you may have to the PATH Intl. office.

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