PATH Intl. was founded in 1969 and originally called NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Association). PATH Intl. was formed by a group of 23 individuals who recognized the need for an organization to spread helpful information about therapeutic riding. The idea of therapeutic riding was brought to the United States from Europe in the middle of the twentieth century.
Lis Hartel is recognized as an award-winning dressage rider from Denmark. She is also recognized as the one who gave the idea for the development of therapeutic riding. Despite being physically impaired by polio, Lis took a silver medal in Grand Prix dressage at the 1952 Olympics located in Helsinki, Finland. After this remarkable event, medical and equine professionals began to implement programs for riding in their facilities in Europe as a form of physical therapy (now known as therapeutic riding). News of this latest form of physical therapy quickly spread to the United States and Canada and therapeutic riding centers started opening in North America.
Two of the first professional therapeutic riding centers were the Community Association of Riding for the Disabled, founded by JJ. Bauer and Dr. R.E. Renaud in Toronto, Ontario, and the Cheff Center for the Handicapped, founded with help from Lida McCowan in Augusta, Michigan. Since then, therapeutic riding facilities have opened throughout the world with thousands located in the United States alone.
Therapeutic horseback riding and grooming of the horses has offered a way to help people as they overcome physical and emotional difficulties and challenges. The rhythmic gait of a horse offers benefits that can only be achieved on the back of a horse. Spastic muscles will relax, muscles that are underused are awakened, and the rider is given the experience of a new kind of freedom of motion. HOH and many other therapeutic riding facilities all over the world offer the benefits of therapeutic riding for you, a family member, or a friend.
For more information on becoming a volunteer or a rider at Horses of Hope, visit horsesofhope.org.
Also, visit PATH Intl. at pathintl.org.
Learn more about the first therapeutic riding center in North America at cheffcenter.org.