Information on this page courtesy of: www.pathintl.org
*PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, is the national association which establishes and monitors
standards for Equine Assisted Activities and Therapeutic Riding
The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) changes and enriches lives by promoting excellence in equine-assisted activities and therapies.
PATH Intl. was founded in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) to promote safe and effective therapeutic horseback riding throughout the United States and Canada. Today, PATH Intl. has nearly 800 member centers and over 6,300 individual members in countries all over the world, who help and support more than 42,000 men, women and children with special needs each year through a variety of equine-assisted activity and therapy programs.
Though PATH Intl. began with a focus on horseback riding as a form of physical and mental therapy, the organization and its dedicated members have since developed a multitude of different equine-related activities for therapeutic purposes, collectively known as equine-assisted activities and therapies (or EAAT). Besides horseback riding, EAAT also includes therapeutic carriage driving; interactive vaulting, which is similar to gymnastics on horseback; equine-facilitated learning and mental health, which use the horse as a partner in cognitive and behavioral therapy, usually with the participation of a licensed therapist; ground work and stable management; and NARHA Horses for Heroes, a new program that uses a variety of EAAT disciplines specifically to help war veterans and military personnel. In addition, many of PATH Intl.’s 25 volunteer-driven committees are working on identifying and refining even more disciplines and activities that might be put to use in the world of EAAT.
The therapeutic value of horseback riding goes back centuries although the origin of organized therapeutic riding is relatively recently. The achievements of Lis Hartel of Denmark are generally regarded as the impetus for the formation of therapeutic riding centers in Europe. Polio impaired Hartel’s mobility but not her spirit. In 1952, she won the silver medal for Grand Prix dressage at the Helsinki Olympics. Medical and equine professionals took notice and soon centers for therapeutic riding sprang up in Europe.
Canadians and Americans studied what was happening in Europe and quickly made plans to start centers. Two of the first were the Community Association of Riding for the Disabled (CARD) in Toronto, Ontario, organized by J.J. Bauer and Dr. R.E. Renaud, and the Cheff Center for the Handicapped in Augusta, Michigan, with Lida McCowan as executive director.
Recognizing the need for an organization to act as a clearinghouse for information on therapeutic riding, 23 individuals gathered at the Red Fox Inn in Middleberg, Virginia on November 2, 1969, and laid the groundwork for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, which is now known as NARHA. Today, many medical professionals, including the American Physical Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association, recognize the therapeutic value of equine assisted activities.
PATH Intl. Assists Individuals and Centers in Several Ways:
CENTER ACCREDITATION/INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATION
These programs ensure the high quality and safe instruction offered by PATH Intl. therapeutic riding centers across the U.S. and Canada.
Through workshops and conferences, PATH Intl. provides information to those interested in equine facilitated therapy and activities. PATH Intl’s annual national conference brings experts from the fields of physical therapy, horse care, fund raising, business management, and volunteer training - to name a few.
PATH Intl’s efforts to increase awareness of therapeutic riding and other equine facilitated therapy and activities results in more than 31,000 phone calls every year to our toll-free number. The popular communication mode of the email has seen a slight reduction in telephone calls this past year, but has resulted in an increase of NARHA communication via the World Wide Web.
For additional information, please visit: www.pathintl.org