Association honored for using horses to help people gain strength, independence
The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) is the winner of the 12th annual Equine Industry Vision Award. Zoetis, in partnership with the American Horse Publications (AHP), presented the award on June 21 during the AHP Meet at the Peak Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colo.
PATH Intl. was selected to receive this honor because of the organization’s dedication to horses and the people they serve. PATH Intl. began in 1969 with a focus on horseback riding as a form of physical and mental therapy. It now has nearly 4,500 certified instructors and equine specialists at 850 locations around the world. Each year, it helps more than 54,000 children and adults with physical, mental and emotional challenges find strength and independence through the power of the horse.
The organization has developed many equine-related activities for therapeutic purposes, known as equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). Besides horseback riding, EAAT includes carriage driving, interactive vaulting (gymnastics on horseback), equine-facilitated learning and mental health. Each activity uses the horse as a partner in cognitive and behavioral therapy along with a licensed therapist.
A variety of EAAT disciplines also help war veterans and military personnel through PATH Intl. Equine Services for Heroes. This program offers EAAT to wounded military veterans and active service personnel. To do this, PATH Intl. centers connect with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and Clinics, as well as individual veterans. Recently, Path Intl. has partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) to provide EAAT for WWP Alumni. WWP has made a significant gift of $200,000 to PATH Intl. to reward scholarships for these alumni to ride at PATH Intl. centers across the country.
What makes PATH Intl. a visionary in the equine field is not only a dedication to serving people but its commitment to providing second careers and second chances to horses. These creatures are perfectly suited to bond with adults and children with special needs, and the organization depends on the quality and reliability of its equines.
“We are proud to recognize PATH International, not only for its dedication to people and the horses who help them but for its research efforts,” said Kate Russo, marketing manager, Equine Parasiticides, Zoetis. “PATH International’s research is providing evidence of how horses are helping those with physical, emotional and/or mental disabilities overcome these challenges, giving them a second chance.”
A recent case study shows that PATH Intl.’s therapies can help improve balance and stability for older adults.1 A 76-year-old woman who completed 10 adaptive riding sessions over a six-week period showed better balance, improved motor functions and less back pain. She also was better able to recover after a fall. Research shows falls are the leading cause of injuries and death in adults over age 65. This study shows how equine therapy can improve quality of life for seniors.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for our mission and dedication to improving the lives of people and the horses,” said Kay Green, PATH Intl. CEO. “PATH International strives to make a difference every day through our innovative equine therapy that we continue to prove effective with numerous research studies.”
Established by Zoetis, the vision award is in its 12th year. It is the first major award to showcase innovation across the equine industry, and it is intended to recognize ingenuity and service as well as inspire those qualities in others.
Previous recipients of the Equine Industry Vision Award are Alexander Mackay-Smith in 2002, Don Burt in 2003, the American Quarter Horse Association in 2004, John Ryan Gaines in 2005, Stanley Bergstein in 2006, David O'Connor in 2007, Sally Swift in 2008, Charlotte Brailey Kneeland in 2009, John Nicholson in 2010, Robert E. Cacchione in 2011 and Equine Land Conservation Resource in 2012.
“Zoetis is thrilled with the many deserving nominations for the Equine Industry Vision Award this year,” Russo said. “We wholly support the equine industry and the visionaries who continue to grow and improve it.”
Other finalists for this year’s Equine Industry Vision Award included Tootie Bland, owner and producer of Road to the Horse; the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA); and the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA).
1 Wehofer L, Goodson N, Shurtleff T. Equine assisted activities and therapies: A case study of an older adult. Phys Occup Ther Geriatr 2013; 31(1):71-87.