Hello my little riders! This post is several months delayed but I got wrapped up in life with a new baby and the holidays. In May, I shared about attending a regional conference so today I want to share about the PATH International Conference. Each year, PATH Intl hosts a conference to bring together centers and individuals from around the country (and world) for a few days of learning and networking.
PATH Intl professionals need to complete continuing education each year and conferences are a great way to do that. Both the regional and international conference provide the opportunity to meet all, or almost all, of the required CE hours. I try to attend either the regional or international conference each year for that reason.
This past conference was extra special because it celebrated 50 years of PATH Intl (previously NARHA). The conference had some fun giveaways and surprises sprinkled throughout the few days and all of the “VIPs” of the therapeutic horse world were in attendance. This year, the conference was held just outside of Denver (where PATH Intl is headquartered). The conference moves each year to try and accommodate travel for its members.
As PATH Intl continues to grow, the conference continues to adapt. Sessions follow certain tracks so attendees can choose their specialty, or jump around. This year, the tracks were administrative, program, equine, instructor, research, veterans, and mental health. The conference provided a little bit of everything for attendees and I found it to be a good mix of speakers and subjects. I focused mostly on the instructor and mental health sessions with an administrative and equine session sprinkled in. Some of the talks were riveting, some were just okay and some provided immediate takeaways.
The best part of these conferences is meeting other people in the field. Therapeutic riding is extremely friendly and giving. Every person is willing to share their experiences, what works well and what does not, and lend their expertise to your situation. I love connecting with other people in this industry and catching up with those I haven’t seen in years. It is a great networking opportunity in addition to being a great learning opportunity.
The best way to make the most of the conference is to meet people! Sit at a new table, find people in your region, reach out to people at a barn you admire, and say hello to the person sitting next to you in a session. The other piece of advice I have is to get to your talk early! The sessions were packed and if you wanted a good seat, you needed to get to the session as early as possible or stay in one room for multiple sessions. I didn’t mind this as much so missing a few words or not being able to see every slide wasn’t a big deal to me. PATH Intl makes a lot of the talks available online afterwards, or the speakers will sometimes offer to email out the presentation so don’t feel like this is important enough to interrupt your networking.
PATH Intl also offers conference scholarships and continuously works to make the conference affordable for attendees. Next year’s conference will be October 8-11 in St. Louis! Check out more information here and maybe I’ll see you at the next conference!