The invites that landed on doorsteps in the middle of March were an eye-popping sign of things to come for Equest’s “Premier Celebration” at the Texas Horse Park. Except for the grand opening in March, this was going to be the first time that many folks would see the City’s, and Equest’s, much talked about new digs in South Dallas, and Chairs Connie and Denny Carreker wanted to grab people’s attention. Mission accomplished. The Celebration, sponsored by Highland Park Village and presented by Jet Linx, was sold out with 500 booted and bedazzled guests shuttled to the Texas Horse Park to experience a night of equine elegance.
There is nothing ostentatious about the Texas Horse Park. In fact, it is unexpectedly picturesque. The stone buildings nestle into the hillside amongst the trees and the meadows, another example of Dallas’ natural charm just 10 minutes from Downtown. With this as a venue, it would be easy to play to the Texas cliché but the Carrekers, with the help of Stacy and Kelby Blakeley of Katy Sky Group, added their own flourish to nature’s backdrop and what resulted was sophisticated, tasteful fun. Think rocking chairs, gleaming horse stalls, bourbon and biscuits, baskets of chicken, loaded mashed potatoes, and a covered arena that set the stage for Mayor Mike Rawlings, Jody Dean, a tribute to Honorary Chairs Lisa and Kenny Troutt, twirling moves on the dance floor by Bill Noble, and a live auction that netted Equest’s most successful auction to date. Guests Kara and Jeff Axley, Jeff Byron, Jennifer and Coley Clark, Katherine and Key Coker, Barbara and Don Daseke, Betsy and Guinn Crousen, Melissa and Steve Cooksey, Barbara and Steve Durham, Phyllis Glazer, Louise and Guy Griffeth, Paulette Hopkins and Todd Pickel, Linda and Steve Ivy, Laura and David Johnson, Lezlie Noble, Gail and Bob Thomas, Susan Schwartz, Natalie Snyder and Andrew Bode, Jan Strimple, Jocelyn White and Kim Seal, and hundreds others cheerfully clapped the bidders on. Pat and Meg Gould, Rachel and John Michell, and Liz and Ryan Thrash were amongst the revelers representing Title Sponsor Highland Park Village – it turned out that Heather and Ray Washburne weren’t able to attend, as their date was in D.C. with President Obama at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
But as with all Equest events, it was the riders and the horses who were the stars of the show and captured the heart of the evening: Billy and Amy Bentler greeted the arrivals, Jarren McTee with his big smile sat up tall on the back of Babe, Zoe Grall crossed her arms on Crunchie with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, Sarah Khan and Saunder navigated the trail pattern, husband and wife Veterans Jeremy and Randi Jackson stood proudly side by side on Amigo and Patron, and Sabrina Williams turned and walked majestically on Hayley for the Mayor. Board Treasurer Bill Seeger and his wife Pam, parents of an Equest rider, summed it up perfectly: “At Equest, our son is a hero.” This was a celebration of heroes.
* Photo credit: Jason Janik ** Photo credit:Emily Hargrove