A couple of weeks ago we had our Region 10 Conference. PATH International holds an International Conference each year but each region is also encouraged to hold their own conference. The travel, time, and monetary cost is significantly less for the region conferences which makes it more accessible for everyone in the industry. There are 11 regions in PATH, represented by geography. Region 10 includes Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah.
Conferences of any sort are usually a mixed bag of quality content and “I-could-have-skipped-this” content. The Region 10 Conference was no exception, however, I will note that on the regional level, this is due more to personal preference than quality of the presenters. I thought all the presenters I saw were fantastic, but not all of the content was stimulating for me. I prefer content that I can immediately take home and apply and/or that teaches me something brand new.
PATH International is heavily focused on growing on equine-assisted activities and therapies for mental health (equine facilitated psychotherapy or EFP) and that emphasis was reflected in the conference sessions. Sessions included client-centered EFP, a case study on EFP for active duty veterans, reaching today’s teens, working with eating disorders, and healing sexual trauma. I attended a couple of these and found some more beneficial than others. The session on eating disorders was extremely informative. It discussed the biological, psychological, and social/environmental factors that impact eating disorders and how different horse activities can play into these factors to help heal.
There were also some very good sessions on horse care! This is one of my favorite topics. Without the horse, none of us could do what we do and yet, we don’t always listen to what our horse is telling us. My personal favorite session was the Science of Equine Behavior and Learning. The presenter discussed the actual science behind how equines behave and showed the things humans do to interfere with that behavior and the vices that can be created. It was a session where I both learned something and took away action items I can apply at home.
Another big piece of the regional conference was on teaching! My other favorite topic. I am not a therapist or mental health professional. I am a horseback riding instructor who believes in the power of horses to positively impact individuals. Sometimes the international conference does not focus enough on the actual teaching that most people in this industry do. The regional conference had a couple sessions on teaching techniques and the “why” behind teaching a skill. Again, I learned something new and could immediately apply my takeaways in my lessons.
I enjoy conferences. It reminds me why I do what I do and allows me to connect with others in the industry. It gives me a chance to pick my head up from the daily grind and see the bigger impact of the work I do. I jump at any chance to learn more information and am thankful to have the opportunity to attend both the regional and international conference this year.
Have questions? Let me know! I’m happy to expand on anything I learned at the conference. And a big thank you to our Region 10 rep and the Conference committee for putting on a great event.