A couple of weeks ago, I was in Colorado for the annual seminar. This is a trade group that represents American Farriers Journal, as well as hundreds of other magazines, newsletters, webistes and other equine media sources.

A highlight every year is the recognition of a group with the Equine Visionary Award, sponsored by Zoetis. This year, The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) was recognized with this award.

From a press release:

PATH Intl. was selected to receive this honor because of the organization’s dedication to horses and the people they serve. PATH Intl. began in 1969 with a focus on horseback riding as a form of physical and mental therapy. It now has nearly 4,500 certified instructors and equine specialists at 850 locations around the world. Each year, it helps more than 54,000 children and adults with physical, mental and emotional challenges find strength and independence through the power of the horse.

The organization has developed many equine-related activities for therapeutic purposes, known as equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT). Besides horseback riding, EAAT includes carriage driving, interactive vaulting (gymnastics on horseback), equine-facilitated learning and mental health. Each activity uses the horse as a partner in cognitive and behavioral therapy along with a licensed therapist.

The work that therapeutic riding centers is so beneficial. So many of these places are reliant on donations. Included in these is the critical hoof care that keeps these horses working. As most therapeutic centers don't have the financial resources, farrier work must be donated.

Donating the services to a theraputic riding center can be beneficial for the farrier who provides the footcare for horses. If you are at the beginning of a career, this can be valuable experience. For any farrier, however, the real benefit is knowing that your expertise is keeping horses going. Knowing that your work is making a real difference in the lives of others is more enriching than a paycheck.

If you can spare the time, look for opportunities in your area for volunteering your services. It will remind you why you got into this industry.