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Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship - Humans. Horses. Hope.

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Posted by on in Equest Blogs

During the first 18 months of Equest’s Hooves for Heroes program, things moved at a nice, leisurely trot.  We steadily increased the number of veterans and military families served, built a solid base of supporters, and gradually achieved some recognition for our work.   But this spring our program took off at a full-blown gallop!

To start, the Bush Center published a piece about our program in their on-line blog and then invited several Hooves for Heroes staff and volunteers to attend President Bush’s seminar on veteran empowerment.   Later in February, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Office of Warrior and Family Support recognized our program as a model program serving veterans.

In March, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff, visited Equest and pledged ongoing support for our program.  During his tour of the ranch, Paul became quite a fan of everyone’s favorite, Hampton! 

Momentum grew in April with Equest Hooves for Heroes picking up solid support from North Texas Military Association (NTXMA), Hunt Oil, Ruthie’s Food Trucks, Mockingbird Management, McKinney Sunrise Rotary, Throwaway Ponies, Disabled American Veterans (Garland chapter), and Rockwell-Collins.  In addition, we were selected for membership in the R4 Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to connecting veterans and military families with programs offering informed, “best practice” services.  Toward the end of the month, the Dallas Morning News came out to see what all the fuss was about! Click here for full story.

In early May, several of our participants and volunteers joined the rest of the Equest family in a demonstration of horsemanship for attendees of the Triple Crown Gala.  For many of the long-time Equest supporters, this was their first exposure to our relatively young veterans program. 

Just two days later, the Equest Hooves for Heroes team celebrated the end of the spring session in a novel way.  18 participants from three veterans classes came together for our first ever “Veterans Horse Competition”.  Riders put on an impressive show for family and friends, competing for ribbons in a variety of challenging events.  Ring Steward Chris Hampton kept things running smoothly while announcer Carol Chamberlin kept the crowd updated.  Judge Jeannie Young praised the riders’ advanced level of horsemanship and the professional execution of the event.

We were fortunate enough to have some very distinguished visitors for the show: Lisa Hall, representing Hunt Oil; Kelly Bennett and Andy Walsh, our 2014 Hooves for Heroes Golf Classic/Veterans Tribute Dinner co-chairs; Jeremy Lock, award-winning combat photographer and U.S. Air Force veteran; Ken Wesley of Supreme Dream photography; Scott Smith of the Military Veteran Peer Network; and Teresa Woodard of WFAA-TV who did a piece on Equest Hooves for Heroes for Channel 8 - click here to see the story.  

Kelly Bennett of Ruthie’s Food Trucks closed out the very special evening in grand style by presenting our program with a $2400 check --- proceeds from our selection as  April’s “Ruthie’s Dozen”!

Just as soon as everyone relaxed a little from the hectic spring session, we learned Equest Hooves for Heroes was awarded a $425,000 Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) grant to continue our work!  This is twice the amount awarded to any single non-profit working to improve the mental health of Texas veterans and over 25% of the total funds distributed across the state!  In short, this investment from the state of Texas is a huge vote of confidence for our program!

Adding even more giddy-up to our go was the announcement that Equest Hooves for Heroes was one of seven local non-profit beneficiaries of Carry The Load’s 2014 Dallas Memorial March!  Carry the Load encourages Americans to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day while raising funds to support non-profits serving veterans, military families, and first responders.  This year, Carry the Load – Dallas raised over $1.1 million!  In addition to being one of the select group of beneficiaries, Equest Hooves for Heroes partnered with IAVA – Texas  to march with thousands of others honoring fallen heroes in the Dallas event.

Capping off a fast and furious spring was Hunt Oil’s announcement that our veterans program was chosen as a beneficiary of their employee golf tournament.  The Hunt Oil Volunteer Employee group also invited some of the Hooves for Heroes staff and participants to hit the links during the event.  We had a great time raising funds for our program while launching golf balls all over the countryside.  After the event, our Hunt Oil hosts politely suggested we stick to riding horses from now on.  Probably good advice!

As we begin the summer session and prepare to start operations at the Texas Horse Park, we can’t help but wonder, “What next?  Is there a gait faster than a gallop?”

 

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See WFAA's coverage of Equest Hooves for Heroes as part of Carry the Load Memorial Day Event!

 

Carry The Load is a 20-hour Memorial Day event honoring and thanking members of the military, law enforcement, firefighters and their families for the sacrifices they make.

It’s a life-changing journey for people as they walk or run as long or as little as they can in the 20-hour period . . . Like the service members they honor, they carry more than they have to, longer than they think they can. Each participant is encouraged to make a donation to help the wounded and the families of the fallen. This year, we'll show our commitment by working in teams and as individuals to "carry the load" for 20 hours. Some will choose to carry weighted packs as a symbol of their commitment. It's a challenge to carry the load for others, to carry more than you think you can, further than you think you can.

Equest Hooves for Heroes in a beneficiary of this amazing event!   Come out to show your support for the true meaning of memorial day.   

May 25-26, 2014 at Reverchon Park/Katy Trail.

It's a life-changing journey for participants as they walk or run as long or as little as they can on the route along Dallas' Katy Trail. Much like the service members they honor, participants carry often more than they have to, longer than they think they can. Some may choose to carry weighted packs as a symbol of their commitment to Carry The Load.

To see the WFAA Channel 8 story on Hooves for Heroes, click here.

To learn more about Carry the Load, click here.   

 

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Equest was featured in a Fox 4 News story on March 20, 2014.   Click Here to see this wonderful story!!

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Posted by on in Equest Blogs

Sometimes in our hectic lives, it is easy to take our freedom for granted.   Equest expresses our gratitude to all the Veterans who have served to keep America strong.   

Equest saluted veterans and honored the Hooves for Heroes Program at the Inagural Equest Men's Auxiliary Golf Classic  on November 3-4.   A perfect prelude to Veteran's Day, the Sunday Night Dinner featured an inspriational keynote address by Admiral Patrick Walsh, U.S. Navy (ret) that roused the guests to a standing ovation.  

Despite the damp conditions, the Monday Golf Tournament at Las Colinas Country Club was a smashing success!  Equest would like to extend a special thank you to the generous and donors who graciously sponsored veterans to attend the dinner and to enjoy a round of golf. Click here to see the photo album.  

H4H in Veterans Parade 2013

Our tribute to veterans continued with a very special appearance at the Dallas Veteran's Day Parade. Equest staff, volunteers and veterans marched shoulder to shoulder and proudly represented the Hooves for Heroes Program.   The crowd was delighted to see our mounted riders upon Hampton, Amigo and Gil.

Equest honors our brave men and women of the military and respectfully thanks you for your service!

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Equest Blogs

 

Equest is buzzing today with preparation for the big day tomorrow, RIDEFEST!!

Being my first year on staff, in is truly awe-inspiring to see the staff and volunteers come together to make something truly magical!  We kicked off Ridefest with an amazing 3D carousel in the Commons, which set the stage for this amazing event!

Yesterday, the Instructors and Schooling Riders took the "circus ponies" out on the trail to let them experience the fun props and games.   This was a quite a lovely ride, and the horses where very pleased to be out of their stalls after several days of rain.   Everyone agreed the trail looks marvelous and trail activities would be a big hit with all of the riders!

Brad and his crew of brave volunteers have gotten the barn and outdoors areas in tip-top condition - special thanks to those who were on cobweb duty!  This team was not clowning around!!   Brad's set up crew is putting up the big top tent as we speak.   This is where it gets really exciting - you can almost hear the calliope music!!

The games area is a work of art that rivals the midway at the State Fair of Texas - Thank You to Jim and Diane Bentler!!

In volunteer homes across the land, volunteers are tying up their aprons and making treats a la Betty Crocker for the cake walk!

We have a full day of top notch stage performances, under the direction the Maestro Nance Weenick, to entertain us.  And Amber...  No doubt in a few years, when Amber Carrington accepts a Grammy or Country Music Award, we will boast to our friends about how we saw her for FREE on a beautiful fall day at Equest.    

The Lion Tamer role was filled by Linda and the Development Team.  They successfully tamed the muddy conditions and set up an ingenious parking and shuttle plan for off-site parking!

Please be sure that anyone you see tomorrow in the red t-shirt gets a high-five and a thank you for supporting Ridefest with their time and talent.   We are so grateful to all of our volunteers and to the team of Ellie, Elizabeth Murray and Jeannie Whittington who made sure we had the right people in the right places so that the "show would go on"!

Mike Jump, Sharon McTaggart and Lynn Novay, you are our trapeze artists.   You gracefully swooped in, grasped the hands of our Riders and Volunteer Fundraisers, and swung them to new heights!!  Things are looking very positive for hitting our Fundraising Goal!   

For the grand vision for a Ridefest that is all about EXPERIENCING THE EXTRAORDINARY, we cannot fail to thank the Ringmasters:  Jeannie Whittington, Sharon McTaggart and Lisa Weaver.   They have jumped through the rings of fire, balanced 10 plates at a time, and walked many a tightrope to pull this day off.   Take bow ladies, you deserve it!!Tent Set Up

 

 

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So here we are — the first of October. It’s a beautiful season with many different causes vying for your awareness.

Most of us know that it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but did you know that it is also National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and National Bullying Prevention Month and National Dyslexia Awareness Month?  And special kudos to the Wylie ISD for declaring October as Disability Awareness Month!  Many of our Equest Family may have these causes written into their calendars this month, however, there are some you probably don’t know about …

Each year, the first Friday of October marks World Smile Day, a day to do one act of kindness and make someone crack a smile.  That happens to be this Friday, so be sure to spend extra time brushing those pearly whites.

Here is one they celebrate in the United Kingdom, but I think we might want to promote it here in Texas:  Humphreys Pajama Week takes place from October 7-11, which means you can enjoy a week in your pajamas. The charity was set up in 1984 to provide care, education and therapy to children with disabilities and complex health needs.  I think this is definitely one to embrace!

And finally, my favorite cause in October – the fabulous Equest Horses!   Ridefest is Equest’s annual fundraiser benefiting the herd of incredible equines that deliver therapy to so many deserving individuals.   Equest is marking October with a wonderful Ridefest Community Event.   Please join us October 19 from 11am to 4 pm for a day of live entertainment and family fun!  

October is here, so slip into you pink  PJs and smile all the way to 3800 Troy Road in Wylie.   We know you will have a great time with your friends and family at Ridefest!    For more information, visit www.equest.org/events/ridefest

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Join us Thursday, October 3, 2013, 9:00 pm  Whiskey Girl Saloon in the Fort Worth Stockyards for a benefit concert featuring Kylie Rae Harris and Thieving Birds. 

Tickets are $10.00 at the door.  Keep your concert ticket stub;  your ticket will get you in the gate for one free parking pass to visit the horse show the following day.

Celebrate the  20th Annual NTASHA/UPHA Fall Classic Horse Show at  Will Rogers Coliseum Ft. Worth, TX  October 3-6, 2013.  North Texas American Saddlebred Horse Association and  United Professional Horsemen’s Association will showcase the talent and beauty of the American Saddlebred Horse, Tennessee Walking Horse and therapeutic riders with disabilities.  Come out to see Equest Riders compete and a special Exhibition Show of the Equest Drill Team!

A portion of proceeds benefit NTASHA/UPHA Horse Show and Equest Therapeutic Riding Center. For information visit www.ntasha.org    NTASHA Horse Show Logo

 

 

 

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