Equest wins contest, welcomes new therapy horse

Stormy, a Gypsy Vanner horse, is Equest’s new Hooves for Heroes Therapy Horse. Photo courtesy of LexLin Gypsy Ranch

‘Welcome Home, Stormy’ event set for Wednesday, July 24

(Wylie) July 22, 2013 – After a nationwide online vote, Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship in Wylie has won a new member to join the ranks of the Therapy Horses serving United States Veterans.

Stormy, a rare Gypsy Vanner breed horse, was won by Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship after a contest between 29 individual organizations specializing in assistance for US veterans.   The Equest Hooves for Heroes Veteran’s Program was originally nominated by Hooves for Heroes volunteer, Debra Rogers.  As the daughter of a Veteran, Rogers states in her nomination that she was excited about what the Equest program is doing to help veterans through equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT).

“It is amazing how positively the interaction with the horses impacts the veterans.  I count it a blessing to serve those who serve and to have met so many wonderful people at Equest,” she said.

Hooves for Heroes participants work with Equest horses, volunteers, certified riding instructors, and a mental health professional to improve overall wellness and better position them for a successful civilian transition.  Many experience a reduction in symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Others develop an improved ability to manage anger and connect emotionally with family members.  All benefit from the safe and accepting environment established by our staff and volunteers, many of whom are veterans themselves.  This program is a unique alternative to traditional therapy and helps overcome the reluctance many veterans have toward seeking help.

The contest was sponsored by LexLin Gypsy Ranch, and was conducted via Facebook.  Equest won by a landslide with its support base of almost 1,000 voters.  Of the almost 16,000 votes cast, Equest received nearly half.

Jeff Hensley, Hooves for Heroes Program Counselor said, “It was extremely gratifying to be included among so many worthy nominees.   We are very grateful to LexLin Gypsy Ranch for sponsoring this contest and bringing awareness to the amazing connection between horses and our Nation’s Veterans.”

Stormy will be the Hooves for Heroes program’s first dedicated therapy horse.  He was bred to have a gentle temperament and is not overly intimidating in stature, making him an excellent horse for equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) with individuals and military families.  Eventually, his sturdy build will make him a good candidate for therapeutic horsemanship, where Veteran’s will have the opportunity to build physical strength while on horseback.

For more than 30 years, Equest has delivered the benefits of equine-assisted therapy to thousands of North Texas children and adults with varying disabilities and special needs.  Equest was the first, and continues to be the largest, therapeutic riding center in Texas with more than 150 clients weekly, receiving a variety of equine-assisted therapy programs.

‘Welcome Home, Stormy’ Open House

Equest will host a “Welcome Home, Stormy” event at Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship’s location at 3800 Troy Road in Wylie, TX.  The open-house style event is scheduled for 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 24.   More than 100 attendees are expected including Hooves for Heroes participants and family members, program volunteers and Equest supporters.

To learn more about Equest, visit equest.org.

Submitted by Leslie Griffin, Director of Marketing and Communications, Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship

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