Traditionally, the PATH Intl. annual awards ceremony is held at its national conference and annual meeting. Because that was not possible in 2021, the association held its annual awards ceremony virtually on November 5. In this way, PATH Intl. was able to celebrate the professionals, volunteers, equines, veterinarians and participants who make this industry great. PATH Intl. Past President Sue Becklenberg was the emcee.
PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award
Patti’s list of leadership and service to EAS is long and impressive: PATH Intl. Region Representative, board member, faculty evaluator, site visitor and member and leader of numerous committees, just to name a few. As a co-author of the PATH Intl. Instructor Education Guide, she provided a knowledgeable perspective to future instructors who will carry her expertise forward.
The 1998 James Brady Award recipient Octavia Brown said, “In all these capacities, she has been an agent for change and growth and is highly respected by all who have had the privilege to work with her.”
As a leader in the association, Patti’s ideas continually push PATH Intl. forward into ever-increasing professionalism and inclusivism. For instance, she helped redesign the instructor training course to allow for more individual flexibility, and she promoted a more tailored approach to learning for those who would benefit more from this format.
When the association began considering how to create a system for identifying and training mentors for therapeutic riding instructors-in-training, they turned to Patti. She steered that process from conception to the successful in-person and on-line system that exists today.
PATH Intl. Marketing Director Kaye Marks noted that Patti’s support of the PATH Intl. staff is the stuff of legends. “The staff will never forget a rainy evening when a full technology meltdown happened right before a hotel power outage at an international conference in Hartford, CT. Just before panic could set in, Patti with her calm demeanor, purse on her shoulder and keys in hand, came into the office and said, ‘Hey, I have my car, can I take you to Kinkos?’ We don’t know how Patti knew to come to the rescue; she just did. Everyone exhaled. Conference saved.”
As Michael Kaufmann, the 2016 James Brady award recipient, said, “Patti Coyle exemplifies all of the attributes and traits of a recipient.” There is no one more deserving of this recognition.
PATH Intl. National Award Winners
PATH Intl. Credentialed Professional
Sponsored by Markel Insurance
Nancy Krenek is the CEO and Founder of ROCK (R.O.C.K., Ride On Center for Kids), a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center (PAC) in Georgetown, TX. Nancy is also the executive director of the Texas A&M (TAMUS) Courtney Grimshaw Fowler Equine Therapeutic Program in College Station.
As a physical therapist, Nancy always says, “Movement changes lives,” and she recognizes that horses are the perfect partners to help people improve their mobility. The horse-human bond propelled her to become a PATH Intl. Registered Instructor, eventually transitioning to a PATH Intl. CTRI, and a board-certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist.
Besides serving participants through connection with the horse, she has contributed to EAS research and education. She has been instrumental in over 24 research projects, with four being published in peer-reviewed journals.
She is passionate about EAS and willing to share her expertise; she counseled and supported a colleague who established a program abroad years ago. That colleague would Skype Nancy, who was consistently encouraging. Those calls inspired the colleague to continue. Nancy’s support facilitated the growth of the first PATH Intl. Member Center in China. It is professionals like Nancy who embody the association’s mission.
PATH Intl. Equine
Co-sponsored by Purina and the EQUUS Foundation
It has been said that PATH Intl. Centers couldn’t do what they do without the horse; they of course put the equine in EAS. But not just any horse is well suited for the job. Some are unable to tolerate the movement of unstable riders, while others may not thrive in the busy environment. But not Bronco. He was made for this work!
Bison Strides tells us that it’s because of Bronco that first steps have been taken and first words have been spoken. Confidence and self-esteem have blossomed, and unconditional love has been given and returned. Bronco seems to truly care about his participants and has unbelievable intuition for their needs. (North Dakota State University Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies is a PATH Intl. PAC and Higher Education Member in Fargo, ND.)
A participant was beginning her first riding session as an independent rider. An instructor said, “Because of his incredible intuition, steadiness and calm demeanor, Bronco is our go-to guy. This rider was quite nervous as Bronco is a good hand taller than any other horse she had ridden.” When the rider approached Bronco to greet him, he lowered his head, closed his eyes and just waited, staying present with her while she prepared to ride.
This rider has flourished in her confidence, grown in her abilities and embraced joy because of the skills she learned on the back of Bronco, an exceptional equine who has found his calling in life.
PATH Intl. Veterinarian
Dr. Jesslyn Bryk-Lucy
Sponsored by American Regent Animal Health, makers of Adequan. American Regent generously awards each of the regional winners five boxes of Adequan, and the overall winner receives 20 boxes for use at the center.
Veterinarians at PATH Intl. centers are a special breed. Take Dr. Bryk-Lucy for example. Sometimes a veterinarian cares as much for the people at a center as she does the equines. When Dr. Jesslyn Bryk-Lucy started at Therapeutic Riding at Centenary’s (TRAC) equine studies in Hackettstown, NJ, she brought with her a passion for working with horses but also for educating students. Her obvious dedication to the care of the center’s horses and the ability to make people feel part of the treatment team are outstanding, as is her classroom expertise as she introduces students to the mysteries of conformation, health, illness, unsoundness and maintaining fitness for equines.
Her actions, focus, sense of urgency, ability to know just what to do and calmness in these situations are impressive and demonstrate true expertise and leadership to all around her.
TRAC’s director said, “Dr. Bryk-Lucy has been an amazing partner and advocate in ensuring the health of TRAC’s small program herd, resulting in a team of happy, willing horses who are kept fit and healthy for our program participants.”
PATH Intl. Volunteer
Pat Niboli, after her career, decided to make her life about giving to Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center, a PATH Intl. PAC in Windham, ME. This amazing volunteer is an endless resource for the center. Starting out as a barn volunteer, Pat was quick to learn the routines. She is a keen observer and if she sees a need, she either fixes it or rallies support from others.
One person at Riding To The Top said, “Truly there is not one aspect of our organization that has not been touched by this volunteer—from barn work, to lessons, to various building projects, to fundraisers—Pat is ALWAYS thinking about how she can help. She is a friend to all and brings great joy to other volunteers, participants, staff and horses alike, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving!”
PATH Intl. Youth Equestrian
Some people can conquer the world with a smile, and that’s what Zoie Cissell of Hearts & Horses, Inc., does. It began as a simple request. “Our daughter has multiple, life altering diagnoses; would you evaluate her to see if equine movement and being at the barn can help?” And so began an incredible journey of discovery, laughter, joy and adventure at this PATH Intl. PAC in Loveland, CO.
Challenges? Zoie has had them. She was born with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis and microcephaly. It is difficult for her to sit up, so core development is especially important. In the beginning her physical therapist had a brace for Zoie to wear while riding that went from mid-chest to her waist, cushioned by four pool noodles. Now her core has strengthened to the point where she uses just an abdominal binder and minimal assistance from her team. She works hard staying centered on her pony’s back. One team member said, “It’s been amazing to watch a horse, team and rider working hand-in-hand to accomplish this.”
Her improvements have been amazing. But beyond that, Zoie has fun at her sessions. One instructor said, “That’s why we come here—it’s the joy she feels. It’s not just her favorite therapy, it’s mine too.”
PATH Intl. Adult Equestrian
Nominees for this category are typically characterized by strength, perseverance, good attitude and willingness to learn. That’s what makes them exceptional, and that’s exactly how her nominators from Exceptional Equestrians in De Pere, WI, described Kristin. Her enthusiasm and willingness to achieve her goals is the standard other riders look up to.
She works diligently on her riding skills despite the balance and strength issues that accompany her disability. Over the years Kristin’s confidence has grown, and she has been willing to attempt skills that used to bring significant anxiety and apprehension. Recently she was asked to ride an unfamiliar horse and while the team anticipated upset and possible refusal, she instead surprised them all with courage and trust—trust in herself and her abilities.
Kristin said, “All kids should have a chance like I do, because I get to experience the exceptional here.”
PATH International Equine Services for Heroes®
Our military service personnel have fought to preserve our freedom, and, for many, at a very dear cost. PATH Intl. is always proud to celebrate this community of veterans and active service personnel who have grown to understand the benefits of EAS.
Another purpose and another place to serve best describes what Marine John Fleming found at the Texas A&M University’s Courtney Grimshaw Fowler Equine Therapeutic Program in College Station, TX. Lifelong selfless service to others best describes John.
An instructor and one of John’s cadets said, “Our program welcomes new members and encourages returning students to mentor incoming veterans. John’s energy and positive demeanor contributed to our success in creating a supportive and non-judgmental group, helping dozens of service members.”
John also serves his community. He shares his knowledge of horses with other veterans by assisting with clinics at other organizations. He has spoken at fundraising events, acquainting people who are unfamiliar with EAS to the life-changing impact of the human-horse bond. When asked to share his testimony for potential donors, he was able to do so wholeheartedly and with great vulnerability. He is a faithful, eager volunteer and a great friend. He goes out of his way to make new participants feel welcome and he can be trusted to always do the right thing.
To watch a recording of the awards presentation, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCXz_s-JslM.
About PATH Intl.:
The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International® (PATH Intl.®) was formed in 1969 to promote safety and optimal outcomes in equine-assisted services (EAS) for individuals with special needs. At nearly 750 member centers, more than 66,000 children and adults, including 6,200 veterans, may find improved health, wellness and a sense of pride, independence and fun through involvement with horses. Therapeutic horsemanship at member centers may include hippotherapy, equine-facilitated mental health, driving, interactive vaulting, trail riding, competition, groundwork and stable management. Through a wide variety of educational resources, the association helps individuals start and maintain successful EAS programs. There are nearly 62,500 volunteers, 5,011 instructors, 7,800 equines and thousands of contributors from all over the world helping people at PATH Intl. Member Centers.
For more information, contact:
Cher Smith, Communications Specialist
(800) 369-7433, ext. 123
Pictures available on request