Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding, Inc. was established as a State of Michigan non-profit corporation in June, 1990 and received its IRS 501(c)3 designation two months later. The first therapy class began in February, 1991 with 16 riders on 7 acres of land in Rockford, MI. Since that time the facility has grown in many ways – but the goal remains the same: Improving the lives of individuals with special needs through the power of the horse.
In 2004 Equest purchased 15 acres of adjacent land to the east of the center, Then in 2007, to position itself for the future and to meet the growing demand for its services, the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding embarked on the Many Hands, One Vision Campaign which included $1,000,000 of improvements, enhancements and a land purchase. These improvements were designed to both improve the quality of experience for current participants as well as expand capacity to meet service demand.
In 2007 Equest secured the purchase of another 11 acres of neighboring land to the west growing the total facilities grounds to 34 acres. The center is located on a quiet road in Rockford, MI and boasts of a serene, peaceful environment with flowing waters and beautiful wildlife. There are 4 smaller barns, an office building, and housing for Equest Center’s resident property managers in addition to the main barn on the facility grounds where the majority of our classes take place.
The main barn was renovated and expanded in 2012 and includes a barn/stable area, heated indoor arena enabling classes to be held year round, climate controlled observation room overlooking the arena, tack room, welcome room and handicapped accessible restrooms. Outside Equest horses roam in any of 16 newly erected paddocks with turnout sheds. Clients also enjoy riding in our outdoor riding arena and will soon enjoy the benefits and adventure of Equest’s Mile + long, specially designed sensory trail which will be complete in 2013. This trail will be the first of it’s kind in west Michigan!
Equest is a Member Center of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International ~ “PATH International” (formerly named North American Riders of the Handicapped Association ~ NARHA) and is one of only 3 therapeutic riding programs in Michigan that owns it’s own farm. Our facility is the ONLY year-round facility in the area which is a critical piece for many individuals with disabilities. This helps to prevent regression and foster greater physical, mental, emotional and social improvement and benefits experienced due to a consistent riding therapy schedule throughout the year.
Today 165-180 riders, ranging in age from 2 to 100, enjoy the benefits of Equest each week, with a waiting list of disabled children hoping to participate in our program. The additional land, improved facilities and programming is allowing us to give individuals previously on the waiting list an opportunity to enjoy the benefits equine therapy can offer! Vital to the program’s success has been the contribution of an army of volunteers who donated over 35,200 hours of service last year alone!