December 12, 2007 -- The 2007 North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) National Conference and Annual Meeting, themed "The Power of the Horse," took place in Anaheim, Calif., November 14-17. It is the largest event targeted at the ever-growing field of equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for people with physical, mental and emotional challenges.
The conference featured an array of educational sessions presented by industry experts. It culminated with the annual awards banquet that celebrated the innovation, diligence and sometimes miraculous accomplishments of the very special people and horses who are partners in the EAAT field.
More than 600 NARHA members and non-members came from around the world to share their experiences and network with other industry professionals. The NARHA National Conference also gave attendees the opportunity to meet their fellow region members during region caucuses. Conference attendees were able to attend pre-conference workshops presented by AHA (American Hippotherapy Association), Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA) and NARHA.
"The NARHA National Conference gets me out of my own backyard and opens my eyes to all things possible," said Teresa Morris, president of the NARHA Board of Trustees. "There is such positive energy that comes from this group of caring, sharing, giving people. The NARHA National Conference energizes and brings together people of passion and expertise who crave learning and growing. The atmosphere is friendly and open. Information from the seminars brings new energy to the work we do and renews the dedication we feel for our missions."
One of the most popular conference events is the annual Horse Expo. This year the NARHA Horse Expo, a full day, out-of-the-classroom and into-the-arena experience, was held at the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, in San Juan Capistrano, on November 17. All of the presentations underscored the need to balance the horse's body, mind and spirit. The NARHA Horse Expo was packed with hands-on learning opportunities, equine demonstrations, presentations about equine health and equestrian demonstrations for disabled and able-bodied clients--a highly anticipated event for EAAT professionals, horse lovers and people interested in learning what EAAT is all about.
The conference closed with the 2007 NARHA Awards Banquet, a celebration of NARHA's regional and national award winners. The 2007 NARHA award winners are listed below, and there is more information about them on the NARHA website.
- Dennis Dutton, SMILES Center, Darien, Wisc., National Volunteer of the Year
- Karen Abbott, SIRE, Houston's Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Hockley, Texas, National Instructor of the Year
- Princeton, Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, National Equine of the Year
- Eric Angelo, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, Woodinville, Wash., Child Equestrian of the Year
- Courtney Osiow, UCP of Greater Sacramento Saddle Pals, Sacramento, Calif., Youth Equestrian of the Year
- Susan Bangert, Exceptional Equestrians of the Missouri Valley, Inc., Washington, Mo., Adult Equestrian of the Year
- Dr. Nellie K. Owen, Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center, Columbia, Mo., Independent Adult Equestrian of the Year
- Tom Cramer, Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy, Valley, Neb., Sis Gould Driving Recognition Award
- Nancy McGibbon, Green Valley, Ariz., James Brady Professional Achievement Award
- Dana Butler-Moburg, J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Founder's Award
- Mary Jo Beckman, Falls Church, Va., President's Award