|U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions visits Equest in support of "Hooves for Heroes"|
|by Sharon Adams||Sun, May 5, 2013, 01:42 PM|
Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship has touched so many lives - making a positive difference emotionally, physically and mentally in the lives of children and adults. We just received the press release and photo below. Enjoy!
Wylie, TX- Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship was honored by an official visit from United States Congressman Pete Sessions during April at the Equest facility in Wylie, TX.
Congressman Sessions was on site to learn more about the “Hooves for Heroes” program, Equest’s equine assisted therapy program for U.S. Veterans. The Congressman was personally introduced to Jeff Hensley, Veteran’s Program Counselor, who led the tour of the facility and explained the important work the “Hooves for Heroes” program is providing to our local service men and women who have returned from the combat environment.
Jeff Hensley explains that when his own deployment to Iraq ended in 2007, “I faced a challenge that was, in many ways, tougher than being in combat – fitting into a civilian world that no longer felt like home”. He further states that the help he needed in reintegration came from an equine wellness program that introduced him to the healing power of horses. Jeff’s experience was so positive that he decided to go back to school to get his Master’s degree in Counseling, allowing him to specialize on veteran’s issues and equine therapy. His education and experience, fueled by his passion for his fellow veterans, let him to Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship in 2012 where he teamed with certified therapeutic riding instructor, Susannah Denney, and the “Hooves for Heroes” program was born.
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.
Congressman Sessions mentioned that he was “very supportive of our nation’s veterans”. He expressed concern about those with invisible injuries who may not be receiving the treatment they need to successfully reintegrate. He also said he understood that the VA is not currently equipped to address the need and mentioned how thankful he was for organizations like Equest that have stepped in to help with programs like Hooves for Heroes.
(Courtesy photo: Patrick Bricker, Equest Chief Executive Officer; Jeff Hensley, Equest Program Counselor; Amy Causey, Equest Program Director; Pete Sessions, United States Congressman; William Earhart, Equest Board Member.)
The Congressman agreed that horses have a special way of connecting with people and that equine therapy programs often succeed at helping veterans where traditional therapies fail. Finally, he pledged his support in helping us build a partnership with the North Texas VA Healthcare system to achieve our common goal: helping area veterans successfully transition to civilian life.
Equest currently offers current service members and honorably-discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forcesthe Hooves for Heroes program free of charge. All program charges are offset by generous donations to the 501 C-3 not for profit organization. In addition to the veteran’s program, Equest has delivered the benefits of equine therapy to thousands of North Texas children and adults with disabilities for over 30 years. Equest is the first, and continues to be one of the largest, therapeutic riding enters in Texas with more than 150 clients weekly receiving a variety of equine-assisted programs.
According to Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Bricker, Equest will open a second location at the Texas Horse Park in South Dallas in 2014. Equest will feature all programs at the new location plus the Hooves for Heroes program. The new location will allow Equest to double the number of people served, and the proximity to the VA Hospital makes the new location convenient to the local veterans.
To learn more about Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship, please visit www.equest.org.