Gait Celebrates Sweet 16 With New Name, Reflects Services to Special Needs

Milford, Pa. – Nov.31, 2011 – In the midst of its 16th birthday celebration, G.A.I.T., or Genuine Alternatives in Therapy, on Foster Hill Road in Milford, Pa. has recently gone through its own rite of passage, complete with a more inclusive name and the expanded breadth of services to go with it.

The shift – from G.A.I.T. to GAIT Therapeutic Riding Center – reflects a similar maturity that is ongoing across the international equine therapy field. Annually GAIT provides equestrian-based programs to more than 300 participants from seven counties spanning New York (Orange, Sullivan), Pennsylvania (Monroe, Wayne, Lackawanna, and Pike) and New Jersey (Sussex).

“We have progressed into a truly professional organization that engages the horse in ways that allow its riders to enhance their own human development,” Martha Dubensky, who founded the non-profit organization in 1995, said.

In fact, the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA), a global authority, resource, and advocate for equine-assisted activities and therapies, has gone through a similar name change, recently rebranding itself the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH, Intl). The rationale, according to PATH, is to better represent the organization’s expansion beyond traditional riding practices, its international growth, and its expansion into the mental health field.

“It’s the word ‘professional’ that makes PATH’s name change so important to us; it really adds legitimacy to the whole endeavor,” Dubensky said. “It’s more than a name change; it’s an industry change.”

The benefits of equestrian therapy are historic and well-documented. The word “gait” itself refers to the strides of the horse, which are similar to the normal walking gaits of a human. The movement of the horse provides the physical component or stimulus to therapeutic riding.

Using 10 specially trained horses and a team of PATH-certified instructors, state-licensed therapists and speech pathologists, and highly trained volunteers, GAIT is able to offer participants of any age the ability to interact with others in positive ways, to communicate more effectively, and to improve social skills. In addition, GAIT also offers programs to help young adults with special needs transition to other job sites and opportunities, and “at risk” youth through its Equine-Facilitate Learning and Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy programs. Some who benefit from GAIT’s services include those who suffer from:

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Prader Willi Syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum
  • Lupus
  • Mental Retardation
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Head Trauma
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Spina Bifida
  • Developmental Delays (DD)
  • Down Syndrome

“As a Premier Accredited member of PATH, we believe the professional association allows us to stand out as a truly therapeutic equestrian center,” Dubensky said. “Both name changes offer a greater representation of what a horse can do for those with all types of special needs, and we’re pleased to have evolved thanks in large part due to PATH- sanctioned programming advancements and our incredible volunteers.”

ABOUT GAIT: The GAIT Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center, a federal non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization, is dedicated to its mission of improving the quality of life for children and adults with special needs, resulting in a more independent life in society. A Premier Accredited member of PATH Intl., GAIT adheres to the strictest rules and mandates which include the highest safety standards for the people it serves, a respectful and nurturing environment, and an elevated level of training for all staff and volunteers. For more information or to donate, visit www.GAITPA.com.

ABOUT PATH: Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.), a federally-registered 501(c3) non-profit, was formed in 1969 as the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association to promote equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) for individuals with special needs. With over 3,500 certified instructors and 800 member centers around the globe, more than 6,500 PATH Intl. members help more than 42,000 children and adults with physical, mental, and emotional challenges find strength and independence through the power of the horse each year. Visit www.pathintl.org for more information.