I experienced a great triumph a couple of weeks ago, successfully installing a thermostat to get the heat back up and running in my by-then very cold house. I am not mechanically inclined, often struggling with the most basic tasks such as opening the fuse box, so this felt like a personal triumph of great magnitude. That feeling reminded me of what is so often expressed by the participants in equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) - that huge sense of accomplishment and personal triumph. I am not equating the life-changing triumphs that take place at our centers with the non-life changing triumph of installing a thermostat. I am, however, equating the feeling of accomplishment - particularly when first faced with what feels like an impossible task.
We have all chosen to go into a field that helps create moments like these for others. And, based on the feedback from membership that informed our current strategic plan, you want to do this in a professional, safe and effective manner. You want proven guidelines and professional credentials to support your work. This direction was confirmed at the annual meeting in Williamsburg, VA, where 72% of the membership in attendance at the annual meeting voted yes to a bylaws change that creates a separate credentialing council and continues us on the path of accrediting our registered therapeutic riding instructor certification. This was the next big step in following best practices in the development and administration of a professional credential. Following these best practice standards will provide more credibility from the public's perspective, as well as establish realistic job expectations for a PATH Intl. Certified Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Right now, if you ask five different centers or people what they expect a certified registered instructor to be able to do, you will receive five different answers. Some think a certified registered instructor should be able to run a program, some think they are more at an intern level when they first certify. As a result, some think the test is too hard, some think it's too easy. The accreditation process we are following creates a baseline agreement from which we will work to standardize the testing for fairness and desired outcomes and provide us the necessary information to build upon.
We will continue to communicate with you on a regular basis regarding our trek to accrediting the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Certification. If you have missed any of the communication, please visit the website and click on
Accrediting the PATH Intl. TRI Certification
I also encourage you to look at the
2016 PATH Intl. Strategic Plan
. With additional membership feedback, the board and staff went through a strategic plan refresh to ensure the strategic goals stayed current and responsive to the needs of the membership and the field. The feedback and progress on the existing strategic plan meant that the majority of goals remained the same with the top priorities of credentialing, education and quality assurance. One new goal was added, however: "Center Sustainability." This goal is for every PATH Intl. Member Center to have access to the tools, education and resources available to be a sustainable business. The work on this goal has already started with discussion groups held at the annual conference. All of the information gathered will help to inform what other data is needed to ultimately determine proven and effective business practices to be shared with centers to improve center sustainability. If you have specific comments or suggestions to add to this discussion, please feel free to contact me at
Here's to an exciting and vibrant 2017.