by Jo Ann Holt
Several equestrian programs that benefit veterans and their families will be held in December.
Equest’s Hooves for Heroes hosts a free program, Horsemanship 101 (H101) for veterans, active duty military members, and their families. The Dec. 8 program is from 1 to 4 p.m. at Texas Horse Park. Their address is 811 Pemberton Hill Road in Dallas. Registration for the free program is required at equest.org/events.
Horsemanship 101 allows participants to sample different programs that Equest offers. Several stations will focus on different areas, like Equine Facilitated Counseling through herd behavior observation. Other programs are horsemanship, Equine Assisted Learning through grooming, and more.
The program empowers veterans and military families to take charge of their civilian transitions. These veteran program services are offered at no cost to active duty service personnel. Also free to Guard or Reserve members, or any veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces and their immediate family members. To learn more about Hooves for Heroes, visit equest.org/veterans.
Founded in 1981, Equest provides equine assisted learning, therapies and counseling. The program is for children and adults with physical, cognitive, sensory, coping and learning disabilities. Also to veterans with adjustment challenges. Services include physical and occupational therapy and equine facilitated counseling. Also equine assisted learning, therapeutic carriage driving, and therapeutic horsemanship and competition. With 30 therapy horses, eight instructors, four therapists, three counselors, and 700 volunteers, lives are changed for more than 2,000 annually. Equest was the first PATH International Premier Accredited Center in Texas. It remains one of the largest in the country. Equest offers an engaging volunteer program providing 30,000 hours of direct program service opportunities each year.
Equestrian Program Benefits Patriot PAWS
Premier dressage training, show, and sales facility, Black Star Sport Horses in Rockwall, hosts a special Freestyle Showdown benefiting Patriot PAWS December 14. The equestrian program is held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Santa Claus will attend the holiday schooling show 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. A special dressage demo will take place at noon. The freestyle showdown, during which the horses will “dance” to music, follows.
The mission of Patriot PAWS is to train and provide service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in order to help restore their physical and emotional independence.
“We are a military family and a family of dog lovers. We are proud to support this cause,” says Black Star Sport Horses owner and head trainer Lisa Blackmon.
Dressage Program Free to Spectators
The event is free to attend for spectators. Black Star’s famous BBQ will be available for purchase along with hot chocolate and other concessions. Farm tours, Christmas shopping booths, a silent auction, and raffle tickets to win horseback riding lessons are also available. All proceeds benefit Patriot PAWS.
Dressage is an English style of riding with a rich history of ancient European warhorses. Today, dressage competitions test how well a horse is trained. According to the International Equestrian Federation, dressage is the “highest expression of horse training” and aims to develop a horse’s natural athletic ability. While dressage benefits all breeds of horse, the most popular breeds seen at the Olympics and other high-level competitions are warm-blood horses bred specifically for dressage.
Gift certificates for dressage lessons are available for purchase. Lessons are currently priced at “buy ten, get one free.” If you’re searching for something to do while the kids are home from school for holiday break, call 940-367-7815 to set up a complimentary tour of the farm.
Black Star Sport Horses
Owned by Jackie and Lisa Blackmon, Black Star Sport Horses is a premier dressage training, show, and sales facility located on 255 acres just 20 minutes east of Dallas. Jackie grew up training young horses in Fort Worth, winning over 40 USDF Championships. Lisa spent her life training and competing on international sport horses, even training seven Grand Prix horses. Together Jackie and Lisa run a program dedicated to helping each horse reach its full potential. For information, visit blackstarsporthorses.com.
This article originally appeared on Focus Daily News and is published here with permission.