Happy Trails instructor gallops to international honors

Klara Bergtholdt of Tulare County’s Happy Trails Riding Academy rides her way towards recognition as a Credentialed Professional of the Year

The welcoming horseshoe sign of Happy Trails Riding Academy, a horse riding school located at 2773 E. Oakdale Ave., 93274 in Tulare. (Courtesy of Happy Trails Riding Academy social media.)
The welcoming horseshoe sign of Happy Trails Riding Academy, a horse riding school located at 2773 E. Oakdale Ave., 93274 in Tulare. (Courtesy of Happy Trails Riding Academy social media.)
Mid Valley Times Staff
Published November 15, 2023  • 
10:00 am

TULARE COUNTY – An instructor at Happy Trails Riding Academy has been recognized by an international association, underlining the significant role of equine-assisted services in communities.

Klara Bergtholdt, an instructor at Happy Trails Riding Academy in Tulare, has been honored as the Credentialed Professional of the Year for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH Intl.), the association of which Happy Trails is a premier accredited center through.

“Recognizing the accomplishments of these recipients is a powerful way to illuminate the individuals and equines who play a pivotal role in making equine-assisted services an integral part of our communities,” said Kathy Alm, CEO of PATH Intl. via a news release.

As mentioned in the release, PATH Intl. prides its dedicated professionals, volunteers, equines, veterinarians, staff and clients, such as instructor Bergtholdt, who do their part to pitch in on the delivery of top-notch equine-assisted services (EAS) at PATH Intl. Member Centers. Through riding instruction, EAS’ are used to provide a form of therapeutic value to people with physical, cognitive, behavioral and/or even emotional challenges, using horses as healers to their respective conditions.

In Tulare and its surrounding communities, Happy Trails continues to positively impact the lives of individuals with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities, as well as military veterans, through equine-assisted therapy, which it has done for the last 39 years. 

The academy’s riders, who hail from all over Tulare County as well as from the neighboring King and Fresno County, encompass a diverse range of disabilities. These include Cerebral Palsy, ADD, ADHD, head trauma, brain injury, developmental disabilities, autism, Down Syndrome and more.

“The PATH Intl. awards program is important for celebrating the quality, professional, safety-oriented programs being delivered to bring about the health, wellness and education of participants, all with the horse at the center of the process,” Alm also said in her statement.

The recognition of Bergtholdt and other award winners for 2023 unfolded at PATH Intl.’s International Conference Awards Luncheon on Friday, Oct. 27, states away from California in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

According to the release, at the luncheon, a panel of judges reviewed the submissions from PATH Intl.’s 11 regions, all of which span all over the globe. Once the reviewal process was complete, they identified their association’s Credentialed Professional – of which Bergtholdt took the honor – as well as their Equine Caretaker, Veterinarian, Equine and Volunteer of the Year. 

Not only that, but PATH’s International Equine Services for Heroes Equestrian, Youth Equestrian, Adult Equestrian and James Brady Professional Achievement Awards were all awarded through a nationwide nomination process.

Bergtholdt’s award, as well as the awards of her fellow winners at PATH Intl.’s luncheon, highlight the profound impact of equine-assisted services on communities nationwide. As noted by Alm in her statements, these awards celebrate the dedication of professionals, volunteers and their trusty equines who play a pivotal role in promoting health and wellness through equine therapy.

Mid Valley Times Staff