Culture / Holiday

Giving the Gift of a Christmas Pony

There’s a More Reasonable and Life-Changing Way to Do It

BY // 12.09.17

The kind of best gifts surprise, spread joy – and can’t be found under the Christmas tree. Yes, we are talking about ponies. But don’t worry, we’ve found a more reasonable way to make equestrian Christmas dreams come for those who deserve it most.

In the spirit of giving back, consider making a gift to Equest, the non-profit which provides equestrian-based therapy to children and adults with physical, cognitive, sensory, coping and learning disabilities and veterans with adjustment challenges.

The therapy is beneficial to muscle tone, balance, coordination, communication skills, and more.

“For our clients, providing them equine-facilitated activities and therapies also gives them joy, courage, strength, pride, confidence, independence, and hope,” says Equest CEO Lili Kellogg.

“The horses are incredible at helping overcome challenges that other therapeutic modalities have not been able to.”

The program can lead to life-changing breakthroughs for some. Kellogg recalls one particularly touching moment with a young rider:

“I remember speaking to a client’s mother whose adopted daughter had been removed from a hostile family environment, and after seven years, the young girl was still emotionally and socially fragile,” Kellogg says. “As I was speaking with the mother, her facial expression changed into a state of shock as she looked out towards her daughter who was laughing while riding her assigned therapy horse.

Concerned, I asked what was wrong and with tears filling her eyes, she said, ‘In the seven years we’ve had that child this is the first time I’ve ever heard her laugh.’ ”

The organization serves more than 3,000 people annually with the help of 36 therapy horses, 10 instructors, four therapists, two counselors and 400 volunteers. Equest subsidizes 86 percent of the costs of programming for clients, while offering additional scholarships, and covers 100% of the cost for all veterans and their families.

“We are highly committed to serving North Texans in need, regardless of their financial situations,” says Kellogg.

In order to do this, the non-profit relies heavily on the generosity of donors.

A $50 gift buys four bales of hay for Equest’s therapy horses; $100 pays entry for one of Equest’s clients to participate in a horse show; $250 brings an equine facilitated learning program and mini horses to a local school or library; $500 covers class fees for one rider for a semester; $1,000 provides a semester of counseling for a veteran or their family member; $2,500 covers six months of care for a therapy horse; and $5,000 covers a full year of care for a therapy horse. Custom levels are also available. Learn more on Equest’s website.

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