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Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship - Humans. Horses. Hope.

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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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This past Sunday, July 20th, concluded the Summer 2014 Instructor Training Course here at Equest. This year, we saw through the culmination of many changes to the course. Most notably, utilizing a PATH International On-Site Workshop and Certification as the grand finale.

ITC Graduates with Cake

Equest's ITC candidates were able to learn from top PATH International Professionals during a three day workshop before taking their final examinations. These professionals included Sandy Webster, PATH International Master Instructor, Katy Mead, PATH International Advanced Instructor, and Shelley Rose, PATH International Advanced Instructor. In total, there were 25 workshop participants and 15 teaching candidates; possibly one of the biggest OSWC's ever held at Equest!

Once again, Equest candidates proved strong; showing off our program well. All 7 candidates mentored by the Equest staff passed the riding portion of the test. Four of the seven passed the teaching component immediately; the other three just need to complete a video submission. A HUGE thanks is owed to all of the Equest volunteers, riders, and horses for helping these candidates learn the ropes!

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Greetings to our dedicated Families, Volunteers and Supporters. As we plan for the upcoming Fall Session and beyond, we are eager for your feedback and opinions so we can better serve our clients and maximize the success and enjoyment of your Equest experience. We would be honored to have you complete the survey below.

The survey takes less than 5 minutes to complete.

Please let us hear your voice-what you have to say is important to us.

Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey. We value your feedback.

Click here to take the Equest Survey

Sincerely,


Patrick J. Bricker
Chief Executive Officer
Equest
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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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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