June 29, 2011 — The professional organization that promotes equine-assisted activities and therapies to improve the lives of people with disabilities has a new name: the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International.) Formerly NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association), PATH International better expresses the scope of the 42-year-old organization whose 6,300 therapy horses and 3,500 instructors serve 42,000 children and adults with physical, mental and psychological challenges at 800 member centers around the world.
The PATH International board and members chose the term therapeutic horsemanship because it more accurately conveys the organization’s numerous disciplines. PATH International centers now offer equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning, therapeutic carriage driving, interactive vaulting, hippotherapy, competition and programs for leadership, team building and stable management.
Therapeutic horsemanship also encompasses a wider spectrum of disabilities and needs that a skilled therapy horse and certified instructor can address to help clients improve their cognitive, emotional, social and/or behavior skills. In addition to many physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, paralysis, stroke and traumatic brain injury, PATH International centers work with those with autism, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and depression and have targeted programs to help at-risk teens, injured veterans and military personnel, seniors with Alzheimer’s and victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
By incorporating the terms international and professional in its new name, PATH International reflects its global growth, as the association now has members on all continents except Antarctica. Individual and center members in countries from Brazil, Spain and the Netherlands to Israel, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and China continue to join PATH International for its excellent certification and accreditation programs and reputation for high-quality safety standards.
The professionalism of PATH International programs is matched by the expertise of its 8,000 members, half of whom are certified as PATH International instructors. Some members are also physical, occupational, speech language pathology or mental health therapists; others work closely with health practitioners to benefit their clients. Many centers partner with hospitals, schools, the Veterans Administration and rehabilitation, residential and adult day care centers.
The association’s tagline best expresses the work that its centers, staff, volunteers, equines and donors accomplish: Ensuring excellence and changing lives through equine-assisted activities and therapies. For more information, high-resolution images or to find a center near you, contact Cher Smith at (800) 369-RIDE (7433); [email protected] or go to www.pathintl.org.