The eldest member of Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center in West Tisbury, Noble, was recently awarded the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Equine of the Year award. According to a press release from Misty Meadows, PATH Intl. is a 501(c)(3) organization that “leads the advancement of professional equine-assisted services (EAS) by supporting its members and stakeholders through rigorously developed standards, credentialing, and education.” Misty Meadows itself is a PATH Intl.–accredited center, meeting the requirements based on administrative, facility, program, and applicable activity and service standards, the release says.
Each year PATH Intl. recognizes regional and national awardwinners across EAS in the following categories: equines, certified professionals, volunteers, and veterinarians. Horses are nominated in 11 regions in the U.S. and Canada. Award criteria include the number of hours worked as an equine-assisted-services horse, the number of years working as a therapeutic horse, the diversity of types of clients served, and the ability to participate in multiple types of programming. Misty Meadow’s Noble was initially selected as the Region 1 winner, and subsequently, with the help of heartfelt nomination letters from Misty Meadows’ volunteers and students, was chosen as the national winner from all of the regional winners.
Noble is a 33-year-old Percheron/Cross horse that has worked as a therapeutic horse for 12 years, and has been a member of the Misty herd for six years. He has worked with clients across a wide range of skills and abilities, regularly working alongside Misty Meadows’ community partners, including Island Autism, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, and other organizations. The release describes Noble as “hard-working and wise … takes pride in watching over the Misty herd. He is respected by Misty’s other horses, and has a unique, transformative effect on the individuals who have the opportunity to connect with him.”
As one of his nominees said, “I first met Noble about 15 years ago when I started as a volunteer. He made me an instant believer in horses’ incredible impact on people, no matter who they are. All creatures are good, but he has an indefinable quality that draws people to him. I especially marveled at his regular interaction with a group of campers, all with significant challenges: wheelchair-bound, cerebral palsy, autism, and nonverbal … somehow he brought out the joy in every single one of them. I too am so very grateful for his impact on me.”
Sarah McKay, executive director of Misty Meadows, received the PATH Intl. Equine of the Year award on Noble’s behalf at the 2023 PATH Intl. conference in Charlotte, N.C., in late October. The event, which draws more than 500 equine-assisted service providers, is the largest event in the equine-assisted services industry.
Misty Meadows will honor Noble’s award and celebrate his achievement as part of its annual Open House on Thursday, Nov. 24, from 10 am to noon.