I just returned from a wonderful event at the Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center, a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, celebrating their 50
anniversary. Cheff Center is the oldest therapeutic riding center in the country, having been founded 50 years ago by one of the same people who founded PATH Intl. (then NARHA) - Lida McGowan. In anticipation of attending, I reread the
PATH Intl. Strides
article in the
PATH Intl. anniversary edition
that outlined Cheff's history (pg. 30). I was struck by how closely intertwined the histories of the Cheff Center and PATH Intl. are. Both were the result, in large part, of Lida's determination and vision to set standards in training and service delivery in this little-known concept of human-equine interaction and its benefits. Both have benefited from multiple individuals joining forces to make the vision real. Both have had their ups and downs. And, most importantly, both organizations have evolved over time, building on the strengths of those who came before, in order to meet the changing needs of the participants, the membership and the industry.
As PATH Intl. joins the Cheff Center in celebrating 50 years, I want to take a moment and really acknowledge those NARHA/PATH Intl. individuals who came before: the founders who had the idea; the individuals who traveled to Europe to learn; the staff and board members who repeatedly reaffirmed the vision and made it operational; the volunteers who spent their own time and money to develop the standards, develop the trainings and the certifications, develop the center accreditation process -- all in support of the vision, mission and evolution of the industry. I can't begin to name them all, partially because of lack of room and partially because inevitably I'd miss someone. There have been hundreds of individuals who have contributed to setting the standards, creating the trainings and certifications and setting out the accreditation process in order to create an environment for safe and effective human-equine interaction services. Hundreds have made PATH Intl. what it is today. To each and every one of you, thank you.
As we celebrate 50 years and look back at the strong foundation and the people who built it, we also look forward with the people currently working to evolve the industry: those volunteers giving their time and expertise on the credentialing council; the volunteers serving on the board and building the next strategic vision based on member feedback; the staff carrying out the day-to-day operations, the industry leaders working on terminology consistency; subject matter experts developing education to share -- the list of important roles individuals currently have in the ongoing evolution of this industry is long. That is the way of our industry in the past, present and future -- hundreds of dedicated individuals joining together to create the safe and effective framework for human-equine interactions and services.
I am honored to be among you.
All the Best,