Equest Begins Construction on Al Hill, Jr. Family Arena
Equest, an award-winning non-profit that has been providing equine assisted activities and therapies to children and adults with disabilities for 38 years, has officially begun construction of a new state-of-the-art arena funded by the late businessman and philanthropist, Al Hill, Jr. Dignitaries gathered at the Texas Horse Park for a groundbreaking ceremony on September 12 to celebrate the Al Hill, Jr. Family Arena.
Equest CEO Lili Kellogg said, “There are over 800,000 people in Dallas living with a disability. Equest’s equine facilitated programs have proven to be a unique and effective way to provide hope and healing through the human horse connection for those with disabilities and challenges. With the much-needed arena, we will be able to help more people.”
Currently, Equest improves the lives for the more than 2,000 served annually, and there is waiting list. The Al Hill, Jr. Family Arena will increase opportunities for Equest to serve more clients and amplify outreach programming with the Dallas Independent School District, U.S. veterans and their families, Dallas Police Activities League, and additional audiences and organizations.
Explained Heather Washburne, daughter of Al Hill, Jr., “My father suffered from a spinal cord injury in 2003, so the arena was one of the most exciting projects for my dad. He always loved horses and wanted to give others hope and support and believed in Equest’s mission. People always say that my dad was an investor in businesses, but he was also an investor in people, to make their lives better, and it makes me happy to know how many people will be supported by the new Al Hill, Jr. Family Arena.”
Designed by Brownstone Crown Architecture and constructed by ML Gray Partnership, the beautiful, energy-efficient covered arena will be 125-ft by 218-ft including a fenced and lighted riding area. It will feature large industrial fans, high-tech audio capabilities, arena footing that is specific for equine facilitated therapeutic activities, windscreens, and a platform for announcers and judges. There will also be ring-side handicapped parking access. This first phase of construction is expected to be completed by early January 2020. A second phase of the arena includes an “Achievement Center” multi-purpose classroom, bathroom and storage facility.
Equest resides at Texas Horse Park, a city-owned 304-acre site located in the heart of the Great Trinity Forest in Southern Dallas. Equest at Texas Horse Park currently has 38 stalls, a covered arena, an outdoor arena, and 6,000-square feet of administration and therapy space.
Amongst the attendees at the groundbreaking were: Al Hill, Jr.’s daughter, Heather Washburne; Equest CEO Lili Kellogg; Equest Co-founder Susan Schwartz; Equest Chairman of the Board Lane Cates; Equest Women’s Auxiliary Founder Louise Griffeth; Texas Horse Park Foundation President Mitch McCrea; Dallas City Forester Karen Woodard; Brownstone Crown Architecture Co-Owners Richard King and Eric Brown; and ML Gray Owner Rob James. Kubota, represented by District Sales Manager Bob Gertner, donated new tractors and mowers for the long-term maintenance of the new arena and entire Equest facility. Pam Dealey Petty and daughter Dealey Campbell of the Joe M. and Doris R. Dealey Family Foundation, who generously pledged $300,000 over the course of three years for Equest’s Hooves for Heroes veterans’ program, were also in attendance.
McCrea said, “Equest has honorably, steadfastly, and successfully engaged the special needs and military veteran communities in all parts of Dallas and beyond. They have provided equine therapy and healing equestrian experiences to thousands of area children and veterans and continue to successfully engage the community to raise funds needed to expand operations. Thank you, Equest and the City of Dallas, for all you have done and continue to do to make the Texas Horse Park a world-class equestrian public park in Dallas, Texas.”
Founded in 1981, Equest provides equine assisted learning, therapies and counseling to children and adults with physical, cognitive, sensory, coping and learning disabilities and veterans with adjustment challenges. The services provided include physical and occupational therapy, equine facilitated counseling and equine assisted learning, therapeutic carriage driving, therapeutic horsemanship and competition. With the help of 30 therapy horses, eight instructors, four therapists, three counselors, and 400 volunteers, lives are changed for more than 2,000 served annually. Equest was the first PATH International Premier Accredited Center in Texas and remains one of the largest in the country. Equest offers an engaging volunteer program that provides 30,000 hours of direct program service opportunities each year. www.equest.org
In Photo: Lili Kellogg, Heather Washburne, Lane Cates, Mitch McCrea
Photo Credit: Ken Wesley