Men, women and children, including veterans, rely on a variety of equine-assisted activities to receive physical, mental and emotional therapy. The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) is an organization that offers education and credentialing for horse professionals who offer equine-assisted activities and therapies.
Although PATH Intl. was originally focused on riding, it has since evolved to serve a wide range of therapeutic purposes collectively known as equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT).
- Equine-assisted activities such as therapeutic riding, mounted or ground activities.
- Equine-assisted therapy uses the horse to help individuals achieve rehabilitative goals prescribed by a health care professional.
- Equine-assisted learning provides participants an opportunity to develop life skills through interactions with horses.
- Equine-facilitated psychotherapy is a partnership between a licensed mental health professional and a credentialed horse professional to help clients achieve mental health goals.
- Hippotherapy uses the horse’s movements to provide speech, occupational and physical therapy.
- Interactive vaulting teaches a rider how to perform a variety of movements on the horse’s back. The horse wears a surcingle and a handler on the ground controls the horse’s gaits.
- Therapeutic riding gives students with cognitive, physical, emotional and social challenges a chance to work on a wide range of therapies from horseback.
- Therapeutic driving offers people with physical, mental, sensory or emotional disabilities the opportunity to enjoy a connection with the horse through carriage driving.
“There are three progressive certifications for therapeutic riding instructors, and one each for therapeutic carriage driving, interactive vaulting and an equine specialist in mental health and learning,” explained Kaye Marks, director of marketing and communications for PATH Intl. “Additionally, there is a certification for equine specialists in mental health and learning.”
The association celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019. Currently, PATH Intl. has almost 4,800 certified instructors and equine specialists with 873 member centers. Together, they support nearly 69,000 children and adults. Veteran and active-duty military members also benefit from the services offered by PATH Intl. centers.
To learn more about PATH Intl., visit this website.