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Download the 2018 Manual

Download the 2018 PATH Intl. Stand-ards for Certification and Accreditation manual as PDFs. Note: If you are using Safari, hold down the "alt" key while clicking on the link to open the download dialogue box.

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Complete 2018 PATH Intl. Stand-ards for Certification and Accreditation (4.5 MB)

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Equine Tips: The Right Horse Initiative

By Christy Counts, PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee Member

In 2017, there were 873 certified PATH Intl. centers in the United States. On average, the centers utilize well over 8,000 horses in their programs. Although we do not yet know the exact average service time of horses in these centers, we believe it is approximately three to seven years. Thus, thousands of these horses are transitioned out of service annually. Each time a horse transitions out of service in a PATH Intl. center, the center is faced with two challenges. First, they have to find a new home for the horse and second, they have to find a new replacement horse. Where do all of these horses come from? What happens to them when they are finished providing service to the programs? These questions are particularly interesting to The Right Horse Initiative. 

The Right Horse Initiative (TRH) was launched 18 months ago by the The WaterShed Animal Fund. The Initiative was developed to massively increase the number of horses adopted each year in the United States while also creating more community resources to provide humane transitions for horses. Each year in the United States, 200,000 horses fall at-risk and a large majority of them have much left to give to this world. There are currently over 7 million horses in the United States, but sadly, in 2017 less than 10,000 horses were adopted from adoption facilities. The public is unaware of the vast supply of healthy, trained horses that are currently living in these adoption centers awaiting new homes and careers. An increase in market share of adoption horses will directly reduce the number of horses that fall at-risk in our country each year.
In 2018, PATH Intl joined as a partner of TRH. The partnership with PATH Intl. is a natural fit as the EAAT industry continues to grow so does its need for horses. In fact, thousands of horses are needed each year to replace horses transitioning out of service. In addition, EAAT centers all have different types of horses they are looking for with different levels of training and behavior characteristics. There is a huge opportunity to create programs with streamlined partnerships between PATH Intl. centers and TRH transition facility partners that are looking for jobs and homes for their horses. In these programs the horses are transitioned into a new EAAT career and the PATH Intl. center has a reliable, transparent source facility for their horses.

Another issue that is often reported by PATH Intl. centers is the struggle locating new homes for horses needing to transition out of a PATH Intl. center. TRH is working to create programs with transition centers that accept the return of the adopted or leased horse from the PATH Intl. center. This partnership can relieve the barn of the headache of constantly looking for placement for their retired horses. Creating this type of placement partnership can provide a win/win for both parties. The PATH Intl. centers are participating in safe and humane transitions for horses and also have a feel-good message for their supporters. Not only are they providing a valuable service to people but also to horses potentially expanding their donor base to a broader pool of funders.

When a PATH Intl. center is building out their development/fundraising plan they most often target their efforts on donors that have an affinity for humans with special needs. We all know that raising operating funds is one of the biggest challenges nonprofits face to sustain their programs. Utilizing transition horses from adoption facilities can be a fantastic way to target an entire new audience of potential donors. Suddenly, a center can attract animal welfare donors as well, if they can demonstrate the PATH Intl. program not only helps the humans but also provides homes and jobs for at-risk horses.

Surviving today in the world of nonprofits requires savvy fundraising skills. The organizations that can attract multiple bases of donors will be the winners in the end. In addition, they are directly participating in solving the horse welfare issue we are facing in this country. Programs like these could potentially provide jobs for thousands at-risk horses each year while also creating fundraising opportunities for the programs. What could be a more perfect partnership? TRH is currently working to build out the infrastructure to create efficient programs that alleviate the burden of randomly sourcing horses while also providing good, sound and trained horses in a transparent system.

The Right Horse is thrilled to welcome PATH Intl. as a partner to the Initiative and is eager to get to work building programs with PATH Intl. centers and PATH Intl. instructors. The first thing PATH Intl. members can do to get involved is spread the word about The Right Horse and its adoption partners. Sharing the adoption message and happy adoption stories goes a long way to opening horse owners mind to adoption. Furthermore, reach out to PATH Intl. if your center is interested in promoting adoption horses and wants to be partnered specifically with a Right Horse Source Shelter. The plan is to begin by piloting some regional placement programs while finetuning the system. After the regional pilot programs are completed, The Right Horse plans to expand the partnership with PATH Intl. to provide resources nationally to participating centers. For more information please contact The Right Horse at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Managing Gastric Health in PATH Intl. Program Horses

By Jessica Normand, Member of the PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee

March 2019

Gastric ulcers are common in horses for a variety of reasons. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ online summary, Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome by Frank M. Andrews, DVM, MS, DACVIM, “Prevalence estimates have been reported to range from 25 to 50 percent in foals and 60 to 90 percent in adult horses, depending on age, performance, and evaluated populations.”

The horses that are our partners in equine-assisted activities and therapies can easily experience the risk factors of equine gastric ulcer syndrome and may also have added mental and emotional stress.

Risk Factors for Equine Gastric Ulcers

  • Stress in all forms (e.g., training, competition, shipping, injury, etc.)
  • Infrequent feeding
  • Large grain meals (feeding more than 0.5% of horse’s body weight in grain in a single meal)
  • Limited access to hay/pasture
  • Intense exercise
  • Excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Signs of Gastric Ulcers in Horses

  • Reduced appetite/changes in eating and drinking behavior
  • Weight loss/poor body condition
  • Poor attitude (girthiness, irritability, resistance, etc.)
  • Recurrent colic
  • Dull hair coat
  • Decreased performance

If you observe signs of gastric ulcers in the horses under your care, it is imperative that you involve your veterinarian for diagnosis and proper treatment. This may include the use of prescription medications such as GastroGard® (omeprazole), currently the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of gastric ulcers in horses.

In addition to treatment, work with your veterinarian to adjust your horses’ management program in order to reduce the risk factors for gastric ulcers. Good practices include:

  • Feed forage frequently (consider “slow feed” style hay net or bag to make hay last longer and to mimic natural grazing behavior throughout the day)
  • Allow for pasture grazing, if available/appropriate (i.e., grass may not be ideal for overweight horses and those with metabolic conditions)
  • Consider adding some alfalfa to the horse’s forage, as it has been shown to benefit gastric health
  • Limit grain, and feed in multiple, small meals
  • Manage your horse’s stress, provide down time and provide as much turnout as possible
  • Consider a daily gastric supplement to proactively support and protect stomach tissues
  • If your horse needs NSAIDs for managing pain and inflammation, work with your veterinarian to determine appropriate dosing and administration
  • Ask your vet about the use of UlcerGard® (omeprazole), the only FDA-approved medication for prevention of gastric ulcers in horses, as needed during times of added stress, such as trailering, routine and herd changes, etc.

Equine Metabolic Syndrome

By Ashley Phelps, DVM

Dr. Ashley Phelps has over 10 years of field experience as an equine veterinarian. She holds her Doctorate of Veterinarian Medicine from Mississippi State University and in her spare time enjoys doting on her horse, Ava.

Equine Metabolic syndrome (EMS) is a clinical syndrome with increased adiposity, insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia, affecting horses, ponies and donkeys. The underlying cause of the syndrome is unknown. Typically, it first develops in horses between 5-16 years of age. Most common breeds affected include ponies, Saddlebred, Tennesse Walking horse, Paso Fino, Morgan, Quarter Horse, and Mustang.

The signs associated with EMS in horses include obesity, increase fat deposition in the neck and tail head regions, laminitis, hyperinsulinemia with normal blood sugar levels, infertility, increased appetite, and altered ovarian activity. For diagnosis, your veterinarian will most usually perform combined glucose‐insulin test (CGIT), which requires blood to be obtained before a dextrose IV solution and insulin are given. Then blood will be obtain at certain time intervals after the injections.
Therapy is lifelong to improve the quality of life of horses diagnosed with EMS. Currently, there are no medications approved for the treatment of EMS in horses. Therapy and other management recommendations by your veterinarian may include:

1. Dietary Management: Restriction of carbohydrates is essential. Often pasture access is eliminated or highly restricted.

2. Exercise: Increasing the amount of exercise, if possible, can help with weight loss. However, if laminitis has occurred, exercise may be limited.

3. Levothyroxine sodium: It is prescribed to increase weight loss and thereby improving insulin sensitivity. It is unlikely to resolve clinical signs alone and must be paired with dietary management and exercise.

4. Laminitis management: Many horses diagnosed with EMS will also have laminits. Your veterinarian may recommend corrective shoes and trimming, pain medication, or dietary changes if laminitis is present.

5. Other Therapies: Chromium, magnesium, cinnamon, and chasteberry (Vitex agnus‐castus) may be recommended for the management of EMS. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support the use of these supplements at this time.

Management of EMS is lifelong but can be rewarding. Working with your veterinarian and farrier can provide many wonderful years with your horse.

Frank, N., Geor, R., Bailey, S., Durham, A., & Johnson, P. (2010). Equine Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine,24(3), 467-475. doi:10.1111/j.1939-1676.2010.0503.x

The PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee encourages positive and engaging educational exploration from our readers - we'd love to hear your feedback! Please let us know if you have any questions about our tip or have a suggestion about specific topics you would be interested in learning more about in the future. Email Dr. Ashley Phelps, PATH Intl. Equine Welfare Committee chair. Thank you!


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