A little bit of mud didn’t deter the Equest crowd as rain clouds hovered overhead. Nor did the threatening weather dampen Susan Schwartz’s dream of having the equine therapy program at soon-to-be-developed Texas Horse Park on Pemberton Hill Road in Oak Cliff. So early on the morning of July 17, the official dedication took place.
As a bagpiper played, the folding chairs stood their places in the damp ground under the tent. There was a cool breeze that passed by. The Equest mini-pony ambassadors Sugar and Tex were joined by tall-standing, 20-year-old Crunchie in charming the guests. As for the attire, Equest folks know how to handle a little mud. In fact it gives them the opportunity to pull out their fav boots. In this case they ranged from pink galoshes and dependable ropers to rarefied peacock designed leather boots.
By 8:30 the itty bitty parking area near the tent was already full and the luxury vehicles lined the narrow drive leading from the road. It was snug but all seemed to fit.
Looking around the undeveloped acreage of trees and brush, Equest Gala Chair Jocelyn White commented, “A year from now it’s all going to be so different.”
A little after 9 the guests filled the chairs for the formal dedication. As the color guard presented the Texas and U.S. flags, all stood. It was silent except for the distant chirping of birds. Then Equest CEO Patrick Bricker led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. He welcomed all to “the Texas Horse Park.” Cheers broke out.
As Patrick thanked all involved in making the dream come true, Crunchie cleared his throat and a wave of chuckles was heard. That Crunchie is such a scene stealer.
Patrick then talked about two of the Equest programs that would be held at the future park.
Hooves for Heroes will be transferred from Equest’s home base in Wylie to the park.
Children will be able to get an earlier start in equine therapy with a plan to include more mini-horses. It seems that some children are intimidated by the big horses like Crunchie and appreciate being able to get an eye-to-eye relationship with smaller versions like Sugar and Tex.
Patrick called for Equest Founder Susan Schwartz to come up from her seventh row seat to talk to the group. Her message was, “How a dream can create unlimited possibilities.” She told how her dream was that everybody who needed a horse would have one available. It started with two blind riders and it was originally called “Freedom Riders.” At Equest, children who don’t have the freedom to move due to their bodies have four strong legs thanks to the horses and the volunteers. Due to the demand, “a great waiting list” resulted and now “Horse Park is answering” the need.
When the city originally discussed Equest’s involvement with Horse Park, they asked how many people would participate. Susan said that they could tell the city official that weekly 400 volunteers took part in helping 125 riders per session. What they couldn’t tell was “how many people would be impacted by Equest at Texas Horse Park.” There were relatives, friends and so many others who would be touched by the results of children and veterans who benefited from the program.
Susan then read a letter from the wife of a vet, who told how their marriage had been threatened with her husband’s “anger issues.” She told him that unless he dealt with it, the 10-year marriage was doomed. To work through his issues, he joined the Equest program and the wife said that there has been a definite change for the better.
Dallas City Councilman Tennell Atkins was next up to speak. Despite the heat and humidity, the councilman looked as cool as an icy lemonade in his suit and tie. He told how he had fought for Texas Horse Park. As the sun peeked out from the clouds, Tennell said, “There are people who have never seen this part of Dallas. You’ve got to tell people about this part of town.
He then related a conversation that he had in Johannesburg. When someone asked him if Dallas had horses, he had to admit that Cowtown beat Big D on that one.
In conclusion, he officially dedicated the park and read it from his notes to make sure he got it right.
At 9:28 the event was supposedly over, but it wasn’t. “Bobby,” one of the honor guard, asked to speak. He told of his working with lots of Afghanistan and Iraqi vets, saying “PTS is not a good thing. . . The suicide rate is 35% higher for vets. . . Your program is saving lives. Not only children but lives.”
As he headed back to the honor guard members, Susan stood up and hugged him.
Like Susan said, “A dream can create unlimited possibilities.”