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Marine Vet Becomes First to Receive APHF Scholarship for a Wounded Warrior

Filed under: The Buzz |     
Photo Credit: Brittany Bevis

Photo Credit: Brittany Bevis

PHJ press release by: Jan Anderson

APHA.com

In support of continuing education for therapeutic riding instructors, the American Paint Horse Foundation recently awarded its first scholarship designated for a Wounded Warrior. Nick Montijo, a Marine veteran from Harvard, Illinois, will receive an $800 scholarship from APHF to offset expenses to obtain his certification through PATH International.

After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years, which included a deployment to Afghanistan during which he was injured, Nick was diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unable to work or return to school, Nick says he felt depressed, isolated, anxious and angry. Nick’s therapy included horseback riding at BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center in Poplar Grove, Illinois—it was there Nick discovered the impact horses can have on healing.

Nick found himself hooked on horses. While at BraveHearts, a PATH Premier Accredited Center, Nick met “Huff,” a massive Percheron, and the two became fast friends. Nick quickly progressed from needing a sidewalker and leader to riding independently and even competing in the show ring.

Wanting to give back, Nick began volunteering at BraveHearts to help handicapped children and other veterans. His friends at BraveHearts encouraged Nick to apply for the APHF scholarship, which will help fund Nick’s journey to becoming a PATH Intl.-certified therapeutic riding instructor.

“I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to become a PATH-certified instructor,” Nick said. “Working with horses has given me back my confidence, self esteem and drive to move forward with life. I was stuck in a holding pattern afraid to move forward and too terrified to look back. Now I have a sense of purpose working with BraveHearts; the horses and staff have all brought a new meaning to my life. I have now completed my PATH certification, and its my goal to help veterans the same way I’ve been helped.”

Founded in 1969 to promote equine-assisted activities and therapies for individuals with special needs, PATH Intl. has more than 4,300 instructors that have helped nearly 56,000 children and adults find strength and independence through involvement with horses. The average cost of registration for a PATH Intl. certification workshop and test, which takes place over three days, is $800. APHF seeks to assist individuals interested in certification through the application and acceptance of one-time, $800 scholarships.

The APHF scholarships are open to first-time applicants, and all applicants must be APHA members and PATH Intl. members in good standing. Additionally, candidates must meet the criteria to become a registered instructor In training and must have completed at least 10 hours volunteering at a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center.

Learn more about how the APHF benefits the lives of American Paint Horses and their enthusiasts online. Applications for the 2015 PATH Intl. scholarships will be accepted by the foundation until March 1, 2015. For more information or an application, email APHF Coordinator Jan Anderson at janderson@apha.com or call (817) 222-6414.

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