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Amanda Whitmire

Amanda Whitmire

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Posted by on in Equest Blogs

Equest Ridefest 2014 Was a Fantastic Success!

Ridefest 2014 Logo

A special THANK YOU to our Ridefest Event Co-Chairs:
Jeannie Whittington
Nance Weenick
Mike Jump


We are grateful to each and every one of you who braved the weather on Saturday and joined us for the fun!


We had a wonderful time as we played fun games, ate lots of yummy pancakes, held off the rain and rode the trail (yippee!) and got to spend time with our friends.... which is what it's really all about. AND... WE CELEBRATED YOUR AMAZING WORK! YOU RAISED MORE THAN $50,000! All of that money will go to the care of Equest Therapy Horses!


We want to say a special thanks to all of our Fundraisers....

James, our Champion Rider Fundraiser!

Mae, our Champion Volunteer Fundraiser!
Chris H.
Mike J.
Mike M.
Chris C.

We would also like to thank everyone who volunteered before, during and after the actual event. We could not have done it without you. Our game organizers, our pancake breakfast crew, our set-up adn teardown gang, our organizers, our phone callers, our emailers, our creativity squad, our number-crunchers... it took all kinds of talents and personalities. Thank you all!

We look forward to Ridefest 2015!



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What an AMAZING day for Equest! We finished the day surpassing 2013 by 35 percent, inlcuding several company matches, with $47,000+ in gross revenue. The entire North Texas Giving Day event raised more than $20 million region wide!

Zoe and Ms. DFW

Generosity like yours helps us transform lives like Zoe's and so many others.

In a single day, Equest donors gave more than $47,000!



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"It was 1am and Tammy was driving us home from fishing at the marina on highway 22 by Lake Whitney. Suddenly, she saw something moving on the side of the highway-she slowed way down and did a U-Turn. Pulling up slowly, we realized that it was a horse, loose on the side of the highway, just grazing! She put on her car blinkers and started to follow this little guy as he was wandering along the grassy sidewalk. Even though this is a 2-lane blacktop highway, it had no centerline dividers or side rails. The highway meets the grassy verge and then there are some fences and private property mixed in with business entrances.

At this point, I called 911 and told them our dilemma. Meanwhile, Tammy is driving very slowly abreast of the horse, attempting to keep him on the grassy verge and off the highway! We kept the emergency flashers on and lights flashing to warn all the other drivers to slow way down as there was something going on and we didn't want to spook the horse. Then, this yahoo in his pickup truck starts racing ahead of us, pulls in front of us and has to slam on his brakes, just missing the horse by inches. Of course, this spooked the horse and he moved from the side grassy verge and started to trot down the highway. Clippity-clop, clippity-clop. We heard the sound of his shoes, so we knew he had an owner and was somebody's pet or working horse and not a wild horse in the middle of the country.

Tammy continued to follow this horse, attempting to get him off the highway, and yet he continued trotting faster and faster and wandered over onto the oncoming side of the highway. Tammy followed him over to that opposite side of the highway, as there was no oncoming traffic at that time. After about a mile of harrowing, heart-stopping moments, Tammy was able to use her car to guide him down into the grassy verge area where he started grazing again. She pulled into a nearby entrance, and as we got out of the car, we both saw the same shooting star! Naturally, we named this horse "Shooting Star." He was a small, thin, brown horse with one white sock on his back left leg and a full white blaze down his face. We made a human/car blockade to keep him on the grassy area waiting for the police officer to shop up.

It was a very dark night, with only a small half-moon behind the clouds, and no streetlights at all. I was using my fishing flashlight on the highway to notify all the 18-wheelers and speeding cars to slow down and to become aware of Tammy on the side of the highway.

Tammy Shooting Star and Policeman

About 30 minutes later, this wonderful young highway deputy shows up. He told us that he was raised on a farm in that neighborhood, so we started to feel good that he knew how to handle this situation-he then proceeded to tell us he knew everything about cows and nothing about horses. Deputy Glenn calls for backup and his partner is supposedly on his way to help us and to bring us some rope to secure our "Shooting Star." After a while, we get notified that the other officer was now dealing with a DWI and could not assist the 3 of us. Then, "Shooting Star" starts wandering up towards the highway again.

We get our dog leashes out of the car and Tammy and the deputy slowly make their way towards the horse. They finally got close enough to touch him and talk to him in a calm fashion. Everything Tammy knows about horses, she learned from Equest-what a blessing that information was! Slowly, slowly, they were able to lay one of the leashes onto the neck of "Shooting Star", then loop it and make a lead rope out of it. "Shooting Star" was okay with this, and yet, when the deputy attempted to lead him, he became a stubborn mule and would not budge.

After much coaxing and tempting him with long green grass, Tammy and the deputy were able to get "Shooting Star" to an area where he could happily graze while we secured him to a fence-this was the fence of a boat repair company and I could tell that "Shooting Star" had never been this close to boats and boat engines before, yet he handled it very well.

Tammy and I continued to watch over "Shooting Star" for about 3 more hours while the deputy drove around the country-side, attempting to locate the owner or even a fenced-in pasture that we could get the horse into for the remainder of the night-no such luck! Finally around 6am, the owner was located and "Shooting Star" was able to go home safe and sound. The next day, Deputy Glenn called us and met up with Tammy to return our dog leashes. We always carry dog leashes in our car as we find so many stray dogs-perhaps we need to carry a lead rope and halter in our vehicle as well!

What a G-D wink it was that it was the early hours of the morning and not too much traffic along this country highway AND that Tammy noticed "Shooting Star" and we were able to get him to a safe area as well as prevent a possible disaster on the highway for both horse and human!"

-as told by Deb Lewin 


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A great time was had by all learning more about what we do during the PATH International Region 8 conference sponsored by LSTEN (Lone Star Equestrian Network) in Baton Rouge, LA. Our own instructors, volunteers, and rider families were some of the presenters for this fabulous 3 day event. Joan Cutler was the instructor for the always exciting PATH Standards Course for folks who are interested in becoming instructors or for centers looking to become accredited or re-accredited.

Those attending the conference representing Equest were Brad Causey, Chris Rinebarger, Naomi Heller, Lizzie Ball, Tami Ginn, Leilani Warrick, Jim and Diane Bentler, Billy Bentler, Elizabeth Murray, and Joan Cutler. Diane and Jim Benter, Equest volunteers and rider parents, gave a fantastic lesson on Fragile X Syndrome to educate others on some of the challenges they've seen their children go through, and the triumphs they've witnessed at Equest through their children. Equest also held a tack sale that proved to be very successful, bringing in over $900! Next year's conference is scheduled to be in College Station, TX at the new Texas A&M University Equestrian Center on July 31, August 1st, and August 2nd, 2015. If you are interested in joining us, all are welcome and the cost is usually around $85 for the entire conference. If you have something you would like to share, please contact Joan Cutler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and she can direct you to the planning committee.

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Donor Bridge ~ North Texas Giving Day

Giddy Up and Give

Thursday, September 19

7 am to Midnight

Count Down to Giving Day:  2 Weeks from Today!!

On September 19, 2013, from 7 a.m. to midnight, Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship is participating in North Texas Giving Day. On September 19, every donation $25 and above will be multiplied if you donate to us through Donor Bridge at:


Search for Equest and click “Donate Now.”

Please visit the site anytime between 7 a.m. and midnight.

 Your donation will go a long way in helping Equest provide life-changing equine-assisted therapy to individuals with disabilities and to the brave men and women in the Hooves for Heroes Veterans program.  As an extra advantage to Equest, gifts given that day will receive a portion of $1 million in bonus funds–making your dollar go further.

Please remember to Giddy Up and Give on September 19--whether out of bed, from your desk, or on horseback, just give!North Texas Giving Day Circle Logo


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Equest welcomes Joan Cutler as our Program Director. Joan Cutler is a PATH Intl Advanced level Instructor and a Level 1 Driving Instructor. She was a Region 8 representative for PATH Intl and is now on the Equine Services for Heroes Committee for PATH. She is also a PATH Intl Site Visitor and Evaluator. Joan realized her love for therapeutic horses here at Equest as a volunteer over 22 years ago. She left Equest in 2001 to become certified as a PATH Intl Registered Instructor in Indianapolis, Indiana and began working at TherAPlay. She then came back to Texas to work for R.O.C.K. (Ride On Center for Kids) and later for Runnin’ WJ Ranch Therapeutic Riding Center. She is married to Greg Cutler and has 2 stepdaughters who live in Waco. She lives and breathes horses and admits that this is all she knows and does. She will tell you that she began volunteering at Equest to relax after 60 hour work weeks in her past career. Now that she has a career in what “relaxes” her, there is nothing else worth doing.

Joan Cutler

Welcome Joan!!


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Equest is celebrating our very first Hooves for Heroes participant competing as part of the Equest Show Team!

Toni Amigo Kiss NSBA Show

Toni, a U.S. Army Veteran, traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to compete in the National Snaffle Bit Association World Show. Toni was riding American Quarter Horse, Amigos in Jags, or as he is known around the barn, "Amigo". She competed in the Western Pleasure Walk/Trot class. According to her Certified Riding Instructors, Susannah Denney and Lizzie Ball, the warm up area was pretty rowdy, which made Toni pretty anxious before the show, but she settled down once she mounted and started to connect with Amigo. Amazingly, Toni has only ridden a total of fifteen times since she joined the Hooves for Heroes program. She put in a stellar ride and placed fourth in a class of seventeen riders. The show was a great success, and after the competition, Toni was elated and asked when she could compete in the next show!

Congratulations Toni!

Toni Amigo NSBA Show

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Ridefest 2013 will be held Saturday, October 19th from 11:00am-4:00pm

Come One, Come All!!

Experience the Extraordinary at Equest!

This year's event will be open to the public featuring circus themed activities, performances on-stage by local singing, dancing, and performance groups, Karaoke, bounce houses, a magic show, and.....

Amber Carrington Photo

A special performance by Rockwall's own Amber Carrington of "The Voice"! Amber has been singing since the age of 10 and has chosen the path of Country music.. She was a contestant on season 4 of "The Voice" and joined Adam Levine's team while on the show. Amber has performed at several different venues around the DFW metroplex, sharing her voice with audiences at rodeos, music halls, and singing competitions. Currently, she is touring and completing her upcoming album.

Admission to Ridefest and the concert is free. Games will require a ticket purchase.

Ridefest is Equest's Annual Fall Fundraiser. All donations go to care and keeping for the 38 specially trained Equest Therapy Horses. Equest is a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing equine-assisted therapy to adults and children with disabilities and U.S. Veterans participating in the Hooves for Heroes program.

For more information, visit www.equest.org/events-calendar/ridefest

2013 Ridefest Logo-Smaller


Amber Carrington's Photo Credit: Lesli Logston Photography

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