Centenary University Launches New Concentration in Equine-assisted Services

   Centenary University’s Equine Studies Department will launch a new concentration in equine-assisted services for the fall semester. The concentration will prepare graduates to provide therapeutic riding services to children and adults with cognitive, physical, and social-emotional disabilities. The program will also cultivate leadership skills necessary for graduates to step into administrative roles in the largely nonprofit field.

Centenary is a higher education member of PATH International, which leads the advancement of professional equine-assisted services to support more than 53,000 special needs individuals, including nearly 6,000 veterans, through a variety of equine-assisted services. For many years, the University has offered a therapeutic riding instructor training program, which is an eight-credit course sequence that allows both matriculated and non-degree students to fulfill all hands-on requirements for PATH’s certified therapeutic riding instructor (CTRI) application and prepare for the certification exam. The addition of a degree concentration and minor in equine-assisted services is an expansion of this well-established instructor training program.

Karen Brittle, assistant professor of equine studies and director of Therapeutic Riding At Centenary (TRAC), said the University’s new concentration will address a nationwide shortage of certified therapeutic riding instructors and administrators. “There is an ever-expanding need for trained professionals in this field, which was founded in the late 1960s and early 1970s and continues to grow rapidly,” she said. “As our visionary founders reach retirement age, there is a need for a next generation of industry leaders to carry the EAS industry forward. This degree will put our graduates on the leadership track.”

The University is already well known in therapeutic riding. Centenary University Professor Emeritus of Equine Studies Octavia Brown ’08 HA, Ed.M., D.H.L., a trailblazer in the field, is a founder of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, the precursor to PATH International, and the former director of TRAC, an accredited adaptive riding program that provides equine-assisted services to individuals with disabilities. Through TRAC’s veterans programming, the University also provides the benefits of therapeutic riding to military veterans and their family members.

One of the top college equine studies programs in the country, Centenary University has produced countless leaders in the field, as well as numerous nationally-ranked riding teams. Academically, the University has a competitive track record for student acceptance to selective veterinary schools. The University’s riding teams also have an impressive history, placing first at the 43rd ANRC National Equitation Championship this spring—Centenary’s third national title in nine years.

Brittle said the University is proud of its reputation in equine-assisted services: “When we send young people out into the world to work in this industry, the more related experience they can have, the better. It’s not easy to provide these services. It takes a lot of maturity and experience to do it well. Having additional educational credentials will make Centenary graduates more prepared to serve the industry.” 


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