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Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship - Humans. Horses. Hope.

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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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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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I started out at Equest many years ago as a volunteer and fell in love with the world of therapeutic horsemanship.  I became an Advanced Riding Instructor and Carriage Driving Instructor before returning to Equest as Program Director.  

After a couple of sessions as the Program Director at Equest, I have had the opportunity to observe and thoughtfully consider improvements to the programs we offer our riders and families.  I hope that you will understand that although most of the changes to Programs are bound to be welcomed by our families, sometimes making progress also requires some difficult decisions.  There have been some changes in personnel and horses that have not been the popular choice.  Please know that not only is my door is always open, but I welcome getting to know each of you. 

 

As is typical, Summer of 2014 has a class schedule that is significantly less than our fall and spring schedules.  We are hosting 6 instructor training candidates and 1 auditor from the US and 3 other countries.  These students will be teaching during the summer session to acquire their required teaching hours.  Each lesson will be directly supervised by a PATH International Instructor.  Shelby Nicoletti, Naomi Heller, Susannah Denney, Christa Collum, Tami Ginn, Lizzie Ball, Lauren Woodcock and Leilani Warrick and I will continue to be a part of lesson planning and execution and volunteer training.  We welcome the opportunity to help these folks become the best that they can be.

 

Volunteers:  During the months of July and August, we will be offering some additional volunteer training.  Please look for a chance to sharpen your leader skills, learn to be part of the carriage driving team, get involved with Hippotherapy or even take volunteer riding lessons.  More details on these opportunities to come. 

 

I'm thrilled to announce that on Sunday, August 24th, we will be having a Family Appreciation Party.  This will be held at Hyatt Place Dallas Garland and will offer food and entertainment.  Fall 2014 schedules will be available and you will be able to meet your classmates and instructors, and make new friends! The Fall 2014 schedule will be available for you in July to begin making your class choices so we can have them confirmed by the Party.   We will also encourage you to schedule a planning/goal meeting with your instructor and myself before the session begins.   Not only will this be a fun event for your entire family, it is an opportunity for us to show you how much you mean to us and to share more of our vision for the future. 

 

Finally, Equest is a growing family, with our second location at Texas Horse Park opening in a matter of months.  Beginning in the Fall of 2014 we will expand our Equest Hooves for Heroes program because of the proximity to the Dallas VA.  That being said, we will also continue to operate the Equest Hooves for Heroes program in Wylie. 

 

Beginning January of 2015, we will be adding Children's programming to the Texas Horse Park location that will include outreach to local school districts.  Additional staff including horses will be added to accommodate this growth.  Although some of the current Equest Horses will be reassigned to the Texas Horse Park, you should not feel any other significant effects at our Wylie location. 

 

If you are concerned that the THP location will get all the best resources, you won't have to worry long!   We are so pleased to announce that we will be building a new Equest on 238 acres just around the corner from our existing Wylie location.  We are really excited to let you know that Ridefest 2014-Blazing New Trails Together will be riding at this new location on October 25th.  We are going to share all of the details at the Family Appreciation Party, but know that this new facility will allow us to serve our families at a superior level that we have only dreamed about.   Again, don't miss the party on August 24th to hear all of the exciting details!

 

Thank You for your continued support of Equest.  Please come see me anytime so that I can hear your vision for our future.  I am so proud to again be a part of the Equest Family.  

 

Corner of Vision and Future

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Equest CEO, Patrick J. Bricker, shares with you some thoughts on the growth plans for Equest, and invites your comments and feedback:

 

Dear Equest Family,

I am writing this letter directly to you to share some insight behind recent changes at Equest.  After reading this letter, I invite you to please share your questions, concerns, comments and ideas with me.
 

Equest Founder, Susan Schwartz made the decision to grow the organization over 30 years ago when it was called Freedom Ride.  Growing any organization poses many challenges.  Even with the best of plans, there are always unforeseen pitfalls and opportunities.  The only thing that can really be counted on for certain is that there will be change. During the past three decades, Equest has evolved from the passion of two-people into the industry leader that it is today. 

Knowing the passion our supporters feel for Equest, I recognize that there are likely questions about the impact that opening a second location at Texas Horse Park will have on the quality of programs and the overall direction of the organization.  I understand that there are questions about specific programs, instructors and even the role that horse shows will play in Equest’s future.  Last, I am certain that everyone will want to know more about Equest’s plans for the 238 acres across the street from the current location in Wylie. 

Mark your calendars for Sunday, August 24, 2014.   Equest will be hosting a Family Appreciation Night for all of our Riders and their families at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Garland.  Equest Program Director, Joan Cutler will be sharing more details in the coming weeks.  This will be a fun event that will kick-off the start of a new session and allow everyone to come together to celebrate the success and accomplishments of our amazing riders. Equest sincerely wants to show our riders, families and volunteers how important you are to us.  We will have an opportunity to share all the details on our growth at this event, but I want to share some thoughts on a several topics with you at this time.

Equest will manage our own facilities at the Texas Horse Park, and will control the quality of service we provide to our clients.   Equest is one of two independent operators at Texas Horse Park (THP), which is owned and managed by the City of Dallas.  Equest’s contract is with the City of Dallas.  The City is responsible for selecting each operator at THP.  There will be additional operators at THP within the next couple of years.  Every operator must sign a contract with the City and adhere to the terms of the contract.  Regardless of ownership, Equest’s commitment to excellence will continue to be paramount, and our focus will be on our clients and the therapy horses that make it all possible.  We believe that THP will have a positive impact on Equest and the citizens of Dallas. 

THP will enable Equest to fulfill our mission to serve more people.  One benefit of our partnership with the City of Dallas at THP is increased awareness and support for Equest that is fueling our ability to grow our headquarters in Wylie and Rowlett.  Operations at Texas Horse Park for the next year are already largely funded by grants from Crystal Charity Ball and Texas Veterans Coalition.  These generous grants will enable Equest to continue to operate and improve our current facilities and programs. 

It took an incredible series of events in a very short window of time to make the acquisition of the 238 acre property in Rowlett a reality.    Equest is determined to have the best programs, the best instructors and the best horses to serve our clients.  We believe that thrill and responsibility learned from competition is an important part of programs.    All of these factors will be at the forefront in the planning for the new Rowlett facility.  We are creating a new world standard in Rowlett for you and we want you to be involved in its development.

There is no doubt that Equest’s rapid growth has brought about some growing pains.  And, I don’t expect that everyone will agree with every decision that has been made along the way.  I also recognize that we must do a better job of communicating with you as we continue to grow and change.  Please know, though, that Equest’s ongoing commitment to safety, quality and integrity remains the basis of every decision that we make. 

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this.  Limited space prevents me from answering every question in this letter.  So, please feel free to contact me directly anytime at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your questions, concerns, comments and ideas.  I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the August Family Appreciation Night.

 

Equest Trademarked Logo

 

 

Sincerely,

Patrick J. Bricker
Chief Executive Officer

 

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