The Youth Forum was a half-day event curated by students at Marquette High School, with an audience of about 100. The forum's goal was "to bring together bright minds to give talks that are idea-focused and on a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration, and wonder- in order to provoke conversations with impact."
Ride On St. Louis's Director and Founder Marita Wassman was one of six speakers invited to present at the Youth Forum on February 1, 2020. Marita spoke on the subjects of horses and humans throughout history and how horses partner with professional equine-assisted activities and therapies programs today to create amazing physical, mental and cognitive quality of life benefits for people in need.
"We love being a part of great community events like this and getting youth excited and interested in careers involving horses and health," said Marita.
Marita Wassman and her husband Rick Wassman founded Ride On St. Louis in 1998. She has 36 years’ experience in the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies and 42 years’ experience in a variety of equestrian enterprises. Her equestrian enterprise includes hunter/jumper, dressage, conditioning thoroughbreds, and experience in breeding, foaling, training and designing youth and adult riding programs. Marita has trained at Rolling Acres Stable under Liz Young Millard, a member of the 1968 United States Equestrian Team, and had a professional career at LePere Thoroughbred Training Center in Caseyville, Illinois and with Otis Brown Stables of St. Louis, Pecan Tree Farm Training Center in Houston, Texas. Marita was first introduced to equine-assisted activities at Pecan Tree Farm and gained broad knowledge and experience with their adaptive riding program as a volunteer.
Marita is a member of The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) and The American Hippotherapy Association. In 2001, Marita earned her certification as a PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor, her PATH Intl. Mentor status in 2010, and in 2015 earned her PATH Intl. Advanced Therapeutic Riding Instructor certification. In 2019, Marita was among 1,000 PATH Intl. instructors worldwide to achieve new credentialing and was one of just four Advanced Instructors in Missouri eligible for this advanced credentialing. Marita has designed and presented workshops at PATH Intl. National and Regional Conferences, is listed as a contributor to study "Effects of Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Veterans," has been involved in other quantitative research initiatives and studies, and is devoted to excellence and education in the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies. She seeks to obtain her Master Therapeutic Riding Instructor credentialing with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.
At the event, Marita was able to share her passion, experience, and knowledge in the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies with students, as they begin to explore career opportunities. The 20 minute presentation was followed about a 15 minute Q&A where interested students inquired about various topic points and aspects of the programs and achievements produced at Ride On St. Louis.