Inside the Gala: Equest Celebrates 35 Years

Equest 35th Anniversary Gala

On May 7, 2016, Equest celebrated its 35th anniversary at Texas Horse Park in Dallas. The sold-out event honoring the nonprofit’s many achievements was filled with an outpouring of love and support from the community. It was an emotional evening emphasizing the astounding bond that exists between humans and horses and its many benefits. Recently being awarded Nonprofit of the Year by CNM Connect, Equest’s annual celebration was made sweeter by the hope of continuing to flourish another 35 years.

Founded in 1981, Equest is the first initiative of its kind to provide Therapeutic Horsemanship activities and therapies to thousands of children and adults with physical, cognitive, sensory, coping and learning disabilities. In 2012 those services were extended to include serving veterans and their families.The services provided include veteran programs, physical and occupational therapy, equine facilitated counseling, therapeutic carriage driving, therapeutic sports riding and competition. With the help of 45 therapy horses, 12 instructors, 4 therapists and 500 volunteers, lives are changed on a daily basis for the 300 + clients served every week.  As the first PATH International Accredited Center in Texas, it has grown to become an industry leader and one of the largest non-profit therapeutic riding centers in the nation. Equest provides 40,000 hours of direct service each year, addresses the needs of over 100 different types of disabilities and helps more than 1,200 individuals each year.

As guests entered the southern-themed gala they were welcomed by Equest’s Mini Ambassadors, Cisco and Dare, on the red carpet before joining Honorary Co-Chairs Chris and Dale Hansen, Co-Chairs Helena and Doug Wall, Equest CEO Lili Kellogg, and Equest Chairman of the Board Andy Steingasser for a unique cocktail reception featuring a plethora of libations from the Bourbon & Biscuits Bar, Champagne Lounge, Zodiac Vodka Bar, TX Whiskey Mint Juleps, and Milagro Tequila Tastings. While walking through the stables, guests had the opportunity to nibble on passed hors d’oeuvres and visit with the horses before moving on the take a look at the amazing items up for bid. The Great Trinity Forest provided the perfect backdrop to give guests the opportunity to watch therapeutic horsemanship demonstrations by Equest clients, play a game of Cornhole, or just sit outside and enjoy the beautiful spring evening.  

Once the sun set, guests sat down to indulge in a delicious southern, home-style dinner from Farm to Table Catering. Emcees of the evening, Jocelyn White of Designing DFW and Jody Dean of KLUV 98.7 FM took the stage to present a heart-warming anniversary video and to introduce a few of the key people who have helped lead and shape Equest throughout its 35-year history. Among the names mentioned were Susan Schwartz, who received a standing ovation for her continuous passion, faith, and dedication in creating the very first equine-assisted therapy program in Texas. 

Among the many highlights of the night, the silent and live auctions were not to be missed. To get things rolling for the live auction, the Heritage Auctioneer challenged guests to raise $35,000 in 3.5 minutes which was quickly met, igniting an outpouring of generous donations and bidding raising approximately $250,000 of net profit including the adoption of four horses. There was not a detail left untouched by the event producers, Katy Sky Goup and the festivities continued into the night with a live music performance by Cary Pierce and surprise guests, musicians Crystal Yates and Jon Davis Christopher.

Dancers from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio kicked off the party and led people to the dance floor making the perfect ending to a memorable night! 


Wylie Center
3800 Troy Road
Wylie, Texas 75098


811 E. Pemberton Hill Road Bldg #4
Dallas, Texas 75217