In any equine assisted program, horses and volunteers are the life blood of the program. The horses, who build healing relationships with us and the volunteers, who give their time and energy to be a part of it. Every year the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) awards volunteer of the year and horse of the year to each region. This year both those awards for region 4, which include Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, have been awarded to Reins of Life in northern Indiana. This is exciting news for the oldest equine assisted center in Indiana.
The Equine of the Year award recognizes outstanding therapeutic equines that symbolize a celebration of ability, optimism, diversity, and the power of equines to enrich lives. Presley a 15 year old POA will be honored at the national PATH conference in Bellevue, Washington this fall as not only the Region 4 horse of the year but as a contender for the National Horse of the Year. According to staff from Reins of Life, Presley “is a versatile pony that works with a variety of students from independent to those with moderate disabilities. He is patient with new riders but steps up to the challenge of hard patterns with experienced riders. He is spirited, challenging volunteers at times, but is wonderful with his students, no matter the degree of their disabilities.” Presley is a 15-year-old Pony of the Americas (POA) that has been with Reins since 2009. He will be considered for PATH International Equine of the Year at the International Conference in November, which will be held in Bellevue, Washington.
In addition to Horse of the Year, a volunteer from Reins has been named Volunteer of the Year from region 4 also. Diane Sennett has volunteered more than 600 hours for Reins of Life since she came there in 2007. She is an asset to the barn through her work assisting students in classes, feeding and caring for the horses. In addition, she “trades her barn boots and jeans for dress clothes to help out by volunteering at special events.” The staff portrays her as having a natural ability with horses and students, she encourages willingness, participation, and good behavior in horses, students, and fellow volunteers. Along with Presley, Diane will be considered for PATH International Volunteer of the Year during the national PATH conference this fall.
The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship or PATH is an international certifying and accrediting organization in the field of equine assisted activities and therapies. In Indiana alone there are fifty organizations that provide equine assisted services. This includes centers that offer therapeutic riding services but also mental health services, hippotherapy, coaching and even yoga! Not all of those programs are associated with PATH but several have received the distinction of being premiere accredited centers. This means that they have been visited by an outside auditor form PATH and have met criteria and standards of the highest level. Reins of Life is one of the oldest centers in Indiana and has been premiere accredited since it began 34 years ago. Each year 500 riders of all ages with disabilities come through their doors totaling 3,000 hours of lesson time. It currently operates two facilities in South Bend and Michigan City. Join us in saying congratulations to Diane Sennett, Presely, the staff and herd of volunteers who make this program such an icon in Indiana! If you want to find out how you can help support the great work of Reins of Life, visit their website.