Standards Manual

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Purchase a printed copy of the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation manual from the PATH Intl. Store


The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Standards for Certification and Accreditation details voluntary standards for the equine-assisted services (EAS) field, precautions and contraindications to therapeutic riding, a glossary of industry terms and sample forms.

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History and Development of Standards

From the organization’s inception in 1969, members have focused on the establishment of industry guidelines for the practice and teaching of EAS, to ensure that our centers and instructors maintain the safest, most ethical and most effective programs possible for the thousands of people participating in EAS. The commitment of our founders and early leaders to quality center accreditation and instructor certification has become a cornerstone of the organization. PATH Intl.’s goals and objectives have continued to place emphasis on the importance of these programs, and our staff, volunteers and Board are always working to ensure our standards stay up-to-date.


The purpose of these standards is to educate program directors, program personnel/staff and the public regarding best practices and procedures followed within the therapeutic riding industry. These standards are voluntary, but provide the basis for PATH Intl. instructor certification and center accreditation. It should be understood that each standard or each part of every standard may not be applicable to all therapeutic riding programs. Further, these standards do not include every practice or procedure that might be desirable for or implemented by a program since the services, conditions, facilities and objectives of all programs are not identical. PATH Intl. does not suggest or infer that those who do not follow all of these standards or recommendations engage in unsafe practices.

The PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center status may be achieved only by those member centers that satisfy eligibility requirements and voluntarily implement PATH Intl. center and program standards. Programs outside of these definitions or criteria are not subject to our standards and are not considered for accreditation.

While PATH Intl. requires all accredited centers to participate in regular visits and membership renewals, PATH Intl. does not claim to verify complete and continuous adherence to all standards at all centers. Nor does PATH Intl. warrant, guarantee or insure that compliance with these standards will prevent any or all injury, loss, or litigation that may be caused by or associated with any person’s use of facilities, equipment, horses or other items or activities that are included in the content of these standards, nor does PATH Intl. assume any responsibility or liability for any such injury or loss.

Further, PATH Intl. hereby expressly disclaims any responsibility, liability or duty to member programs, directors, program personnel/staff, and to clients/participants and their families, for any such liability arising out of injury or loss to any person by the failure of such member programs, directors or program personnel/staff to adhere to these standards or guidelines.

Purchase a printed copy of the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation manual from the PATH Intl. Store

Standards Feedback

PATH Intl. welcomes comments and feedback on its current standards. Comments/feedback can be emailed to the PATH Intl. office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by using the Membership Standards Feedback form, attention PATH Intl. Programs and Standards Oversight Committee. The comments/feedback may be directed to another committee for review when additional expertise is required.  Please note that the submitters contact information is required as reviewing committee may need additional information and feedback.

The reviewing committee will make one of the following recommendations to the Programs and Standards Oversight Committee:
1. That the standard needs to be amended with no change in intent and written into the next version of the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation.
2.  That the standard needs to be amended but changes the intent of the standard. The process for developing a new field test standard is implemented and can be found in the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation.
3. That no action to amend the standard is required.

2020 Field Test Standard - passed October 2020

Is there a written record for each equine that documents the results of an annual evaluation of individual weight-carrying and workload limitations?
Yes    No
Interpretation: During all EAS, equines are subjected to stresses that can lead to short- and long-term negative effects on the body and mind of the equine. Science has not yet delivered a formula to calculate the weight-carrying or workload capabilities of horses. Therefore, regular evaluation and re-evaluation of the following complex variables should be used to determine the weight-carrying and workload limitations for each equine at least annually.
Some weight-carrying and workload variables that centers may consider are as follows:
•  Equine age, weight, breed, body condition, fitness, balance, health and soundness
•  Equine conformation to include the top line, length of back, strength and width of loin, bone density (measured by the circumference of the cannon bone just below the knee)
•  Size, shape, condition and angle of the hooves
•  Participant weight, height, body proportions, balance, fitness and riding skills as well as behavioral issues and safety concerns
•  Weight and proper fit of the saddle and other equipment
•  Terrain and footing in the working environment
•  Duration and frequency of working sessions, as the frequency with which an equine is subjected to maximum weight carrying and/or workload should be carefully monitored
•  Nature and pace of work, repetitive or varied, radius of turns, degree of incline and regularity of footing when the equine is subject to maximum weight-carrying capacity
•  Break intervals between working sessions. (A break interval is a time without tack or other equip- ment where the equine is not tied but allowed to move freely and has access to water. A working session is a period of continuous service where the equine is under the control of and interacting with humans.)
•  Temperature and/or weather conditions
•  Seasonal impact on the equines’ workload and weight-carrying capabilities and limitations
•  Equine responses toward work as demonstrated by behaviors and/or body language




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