spring foal
In This Issue
From Your Region Rep
PATH Intl. Resources
Arkansas Co-Chairs
LA State Meeting
OK News
Quick Links
Contacts:Region Rep and State Chairs 
Stay Connected 

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International

Title Sponsor: Purina, the official feed of PATH Intl.
From Your Region Rep   
Hello Region 8 and Welcome Spring! My name is Shannon Middleton, and I am your PATH Intl. Region 8 Representative. I hope I can be of service to you and help in any way to assist you along your road to success in equine-assisted activities and therapies. Please feel free to contact me at region8rep@pathintl.org or call me at (512) 633-3151. Each PATH Intl. center in our region should have received an email from me which included a center press release, a PATH Intl. Member Center press release template, and the 2015 PATH Intl. Fact Sheet. These are all great ways we can educate the public about PATH Intl. centers and PATH Intl. professionals and our commitment to education, training, and industry standards. It is also a way for each of us to be a part of a grass roots effort to make PATH Intl. Centers and certified professionals a more recognized "brand" which benefits all centers and certified professionals. **Link to below info

PATH Intl. Region 8 Conference-the LSTEN Board is hard at work on the 2017 Region Conference. Please watch the website and the LSTEN website for updates! Because our Region Conference will be held in Arkansas this year, we'd like to highlight our Arkansas State Co-Chairs below.

PATH Intl. Award Nominations
Be sure to submit your nominations online! The forms are available on the PATH Intl. website. The deadline is May 15th!

Upcoming Events
Oklahoma State Meeting - June 10, 2017 in Drumright, OK. For more information, email or call/text Cathryn Christensen at 405-269-6051.

PATH Intl. Region 8 Conference - August 4-6, 2017 in Arkansas. More details to come!
PATH Intl. Resources  
In response to member requests, PATH Intl. has provided three resources for centers so that they can easily include PATH Intl. affiliation in all of their press releases. The resources provide an assortment of options so that centers can choose the verbiage that best matches their situations and news article/ center communication goals. The Fact Sheet provides information about specific information that they may want to communicate. The benefits to centers for including the information in their news articles, center newsletters or press releases are:

* It provides an additional value statement for their centers and staff.
* It sets them apart by educating the public about the difference between the centers and professionals that can demonstrate commitment to education, training and industry standards and those who can't.
* It is part of a grass roots effort to make PATH Intl. Centers and certified professionals a more recognized "brand," which benefits all centers and certified professionals.

If every PATH Intl. member center and PAC included the info in their communications about their center and certified professionals, PATH Intl. centers and certified professionals would become a more recognized distinction among the general public.

PATH Intl. Member Center Press Release

Center Press Release Messages by Segment

Fact Sheet

Arkansas Co-Chairscochairs
Kimberley Haley Kimberly Haley, BBA: Kim works full time for Blue Cross Blue Shield as a Business Analyst and still has managed to volunteer as an Instructor at Sunrise Riders almost every Saturday for the past 20 years. She was also a riding instructor at a Girl Scout Camp Noark. She is a professional member of PATH, Intl. is the PATH Intl. Arkansas State Co-Chair and a board member of the Lone Star Therapeutic Equestrian Network (LSTEN). She is a 2001 CHA Certified Riding Instructor and a PATH Registered Riding Instructor. She has been riding and showing since she was a teen and has competed in barrels, dressage, jumping and enjoys trail riding. Kimberly volunteers with 4-H groups, Horse Tales Literacy Project and also the Houston Dressage Club twice a year as the Asst. Volunteer Coordinator. She also volunteers at the National Dressage Finals at the Horse Park in Lexington, KY. Kimberly also enjoys training horses and dogs.

Merilee Hicks Merilee Hicks: Merilee has been married for fourteen years. She has two sons and two daughters and two geldings. She got into therapeutic riding because of her best friend, Kimberly Haley, and she loves it! Merilee is a professional member of PATH, Intl., is the PATH Intl. Arkansas State Co-Chair and a board member of the Lone Star Therapeutic Equestrian Network (LSTEN). She's anxious for this season to begin and is looking forward to everything that's going on with PATH Intl. and the Region 8 Conference.
Louisiana State Meeting  
The Louisiana Therapeutic Riding Association held its annual meeting at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine in January. Topics included Toys to Tools-Sensory Integration in the Arena, Horsemanship and Equine Dentistry, Equine Chiropractic, Reportable Equine Diseases, External Parasite Control, Arthritis and Options for Older Horses and Teaching Drill Team in One Lesson. Please see our Region 8 PATH Intl. page for feedback from the meeting.
Oklahoma News
Oklahoma is home to many people who have impacted the world; congressmen, astronauts, movie stars, musicians, scientists and more. However, Dr. Velinda Baker can now be added to that list. She has brought even more of the International part of PATH to Oklahoma and we are very proud of her and all she has accomplished. In early 2016, she was contacted in hopes that she would travel to Pakistan with the goal of training some instructors to start a therapeutic riding program for children with special needs. 

The program was started under the umbrella of Fazaldad Human Rights Institute and affiliated with PATH International. The children in this third world country do not have the benefits American children enjoy. While a portion of the children with special needs do have the opportunity to go to school, those in the prevalent poverty do not even have access to a basic education much less a therapeutic riding program. No program exists anywhere in the country for children with special needs.

In the fall of 2016, Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Dr. Velinda Baker traveled to Pakistan to help a dedicated group of people start Sunrise Therapeutic Horsemanship Program (Sunrise THP). She worked with a team of men and women in associated with the Step to Learn School. Step to Learn is a private school for children with special needs. Umair Bin Tahir has converted his home to a private school for children who would not have the opportunity to learn. He and his wife have actually opened 3 centers (homes). The centers are named "Step to Learn". During her visit, Dr. Baker met Mr. Umair's mother. She blessed her with a gift, a 'dupta' which is a scarf. The scarf is a winter scarf. The trim is hand stitched.

From Dr. Baker's Facebook Blog: "Today we took our first major step to enroll the riders for the Sunrise Therapeutic Horsemanship Program. We went to the Bahria Town annex of the "Step to Learn" School. This was a learning experience and the team passed with flying colors. Sadia, a professional Psychologist interviewed 10 children while Hammad and Amjad observed. They each had an evaluation chart that they filled out on each child. When the interviews were finished they discussed what they observed and recorded on the chart. After this step they grouped the children as to which group the children should ride in. They did very well. They have been working and learning with the horses, then the Equine Member Teams, and now the potential riders. The next step is the principal of the school and Sadia are calling parents and requesting that their children be admitted in this program. Remember, NO third world country has any program such as this. Horses in Pakistan are for work. This Institute is responsible for us being able to put this program on. Those of you who have worked with our type of program know that it can be rather costly."

According to Dr. Baker, in Pakistan, horses are not used by the general population for pleasure. They are used for work. Therefore, horse husbandry is not as prevalent there as it is here in the US. Dr. Baker offered more than just training Instructors in Training, she also guided them on basic horse care, nutrition, and more. Hammad, the center's Equine Manager and Instructor in Training, shared this with Dr. Baker: "When I started this job I didn't know much about what I am going to do ... I was little confused but now as time is going on now I have a feeling that I am a part of something which is very special ... learning about horses, their nature, their likes and dislikes and learning natural horseman ship which is something that feels so awesome and unique to me. Handling a horse with Love, care and politeness is something which is so adorable. I am feeling like my life is in these horses and now as we are going to start our program with these 9 cute little angels I am so excited and imagining all of them on horses and smiling ..."

Dr. Baker (fifth from right) is pictured with the team responsible for starting the Sunrise THP in Pakistan.
"The first day of rider and horse interaction coincided with the first official day for the Pakistan Instructors in Training, parents, Institute Administrators to work with the center. The day was full of learning experiences and successes. Arya (bay horse), was wonderful, but the kids were attracted to Winter (grey horse). I was so surprised and pleased at how the parents put their trust in us, people they did not know. People riding horses in PK as a leisure is not seen. This program is quite foreign to this part of the world. Not just because it is therapy but because we place children on horseback to ride, not to work."

This coming April 8th, Right Path Therapeutic Riding Center will be hosting their first Annual William's Walk Memorial Trail Ride at Bell Cow Lake in Chandler, OK. William's Walk is a program that was renamed in honor of William Ocker, son of Mike & Joshalyn Ocker who is the Operations Directors of the center. William suffered from a condition left him deaf-blind and severely weakened in all areas. Although he was never able to walk independently, riding provided him a freedom that he loved. William started riding at The Right Path in 2009. The core strength the riding provided reduced his hospital stays drastically. His love for the riders, volunteers, and horses at The Right Path is what brought the Ockers to take over daily operations. William passed into the arms of Jesus on October 18, 2015. He is missed mightily, but his legacy continues through the love and joy spread through the William's Walk program. For more information, visit the Facebook page.

The Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Program may have found a permanent home after striking a deal to use the Redlands Royse Ranch. The deal not only creates a more stable home for Savannah, it also may lead to a new area of study for students at Redlands Community College. Only one other community college in the nation offers a curriculum geared toward equine therapy. That school is in Illinois. With the partnership between RCC and Savannah Station, it's a possibility that number could double. 

It's a field that's ripe for job growth, said one of the Savannah Station leaders. Savannah Station has been operating at the Robin Glenn Farm, north of El Reno on U.S. 81 since it was established in 2013. While Glenn is praised by the Savannah leadership for her support of the program, it has always been a desire to find a permanent location. Savannah Station leaders are hopeful the RCC partnership will lead to even more community participation.

Jack Salkil is the executive director of Savannah Station. He called the RCC partnership a "great blessing" and describes results from the work Savannah Station does as a "miracle of God." Salkil said the goal of the organization is to provide "hope and healing" through equine therapy for individuals ages 3 and above. Special challenges accepted are amputations, autism, brain injuries, cardiovascular accident/stroke, cerebral palsy, deafness, Down syndrome, emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, mental retardation, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, spinal cord injuries, visual impairment and other highly involved disabilities. 

Mindy Hole, a Redlands Equine Studies graduate, will serve as program coordinator for Savannah Station. She said the PATH certification can open doors for more programs to be created and could lead to opportunities for RCC to provide instruction in the areas of equine therapy. She said careers in horse therapy are becoming more prevalent as the medical community discovers its benefits.

One of those benefits could include helping to improve literacy in students. Hole said Savannah Station plans to incorporate a literacy program into its work by having children read to the horses.
RCC President Jack Bryant called the partnership with Savannah Station a tremendous turnaround. The school had to make cuts to its equine program because of budget difficulties, but with Savannah Station coming on board, a new outlook has been created. 

"Our partnership with Savannah Station brings our equine program back to life in a very unique way," said Bryant. "We are proud to help provide this vital service to our community." El Reno Public Schools has used Savannah Station for Special Education students and Salkil said that partnership is expected to grow even stronger. El Reno Superintendent Craig McVay has trained to become a volunteer with the program. Additionally, Western Heights school district has signed on to use Savannah Station and Riverside School also sends students for equine therapy. 

"I see it as a ministry," Salkil said. "It's amazing to see the miracles God has produced through this." Children who for years had been unresponsive are now interacting and some who had never sat up, now are riding in the saddle as volunteers walk with them offering words of praise and encouragement. 

Salkil said a sibling riding program is being developed so brothers and sisters can ride along. He said this will help create a stronger bond between youngsters. "You don't have to be a horse lover to get involved," she said.

Oklahoma Therapeutic Riding Instructors getting better, smarter, and closer through continuing education. The first weekend in March can find many of the Therapeutic Riding Instructors in one location each year; The Horse Owners Workshop at Oklahoma State University. Hosted by the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Animal Sciences College, representatives of Right Path Therapeutic Riding Center, Turning Point Riding Center, Savannah Station TRP, and Coffee Creek Riding Center as well as the Oklahoma State Co-Representatives of PATH International accounted for over half of the attendees to the wonderful workshop. Attendees were treated to valuable and informative sessions on Plant/Weed Identification and Management, Caring for the Older Horse by world renowned scientist Dr. Dianne McFarland, Managing Chronic Respiratory Disease in Your Horse by Dr. Camilla Jameson. There were also hands-on labs on Selecting Feeds Based on Lifestyle and Age of Your Horse by Dr. Kris Hiney, Personal Farm Disaster Planning by Dr. Traci Naile, and Equine Conformation by Dr. Stephen Cooper. Offered for a very affordable cost of $45, the 7 hours were fun, educational, and a great time seeing friends from other centers in Oklahoma. And knowing that that the hands of those caring for those with special needs are learning the best information from the best in the business is good news for all.

To find out more about education events hosted by Animal Sciences, visit their website. Check back next February for the 2018 Horse Owner's Workshop.

Please direct correspondence about this newsletter to PATH Intl. eNews coordinator. No portion of this publication may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, scanned or electronic process without written permission from PATH Intl. PATH Intl. reserves the right to reject, accept and edit submitted material. The PATH Intl. Region Newsletters are intended as an information exchange and an opportunity for communication for members in the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies. The opinions, practices or products presented in PATH Intl. eNews do not necessarily reflect PATH Intl. policy, imply PATH Intl. endorsement, or comply with PATH Intl. standards.


Events listed are for information purposes and do not necessarily reflect PATH Intl. policy, imply endorsement or comply with PATH Intl. Standards. They may or may not be eligible for PATH Intl. continuing education units on instructor compliance forms. For questions regarding CEUs, contact Bret Maceyak at the PATH Intl. office. 


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