Our Vision

The Many Hands One Vision campaign was created in large part as a result of our program’s great successes! The Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding is literally bursting at its seams! Each  session, more than 75-100 individuals are unable to take part in Equest Center programming and have to be placed on a waiting list. Also, the Equest Center facilities, its barn and other equipment, are suffering from being loved by  twenty years of enthusiastic riders.

To position itself for the future and to meet demand for its services, the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding has embarked on $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.

Equest Center’s Many Hands-One Vision Campaign includes 4 major components:

The Riding Arena and Stall Barn:

Improvements to the main barn riding arena and stall area including physical improvements as well as a new building addition with appropriate handicapped accessible bathrooms, welcome room and improved ventilation throughout the entire building. These improvements will provide a more comfortable experience for riders and horses as well as allowing Equest to serve a larger number of clients with more severe health and mobility needs.

Land Acquisition:

The purchase of eleven acres of abandoned land adjacent to the current facility will preserve the pastoral nature of the center (which has recently been rezoned to rural residential) and allow Equest to obtain more horses for the program as well as additional land for our Sensory Riding Trail and Carriage Driving program track.

Carriage Driving Program:

The development and implementation of a Carriage Driving program. Using a horse and carriage gives participants an alternative or an addition to riding, opening up the world of horses to those who may be unable to ride due to weight, balance, fatigue, fear of heights, the inability to sit astride, or other issues.

Sensory Trail:

The development of a new Sensory Trail will offer enhanced therapeutic options- especially for the many individuals suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder. SPD is a complex disorder of the brain in which people misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound and movement. This may result in a number of different behavioral and sensory patterns that may cause severe and debilitating motor, attentional and behavior patterns.

Many Hands, One Vision Leadership Team

Eileen Devries “Since I got the West Nile Virus in 2002, I have tried to find different therapies that would help me to walk like I used to. The Equest Center has allowed me to do therapy that stretches and exercises my core muscles from atop a horse, which has proved to be much more challenging and effective than I ever imagined. The breadth of students the center serves is what inspired me. From my West Nile Virus recovery to a long list of issues affecting every age group, so many individuals can benefit from these truly therapeutic horses.”

Eileen DeVries – Honorary Campaign Co-Chair


Starr Meijer“My passion for horses and riding led me to the Equest Center and the importance of the programs it provides. To know such a range of people benefit from the riding therapies is exciting and I am happy to support this campaign to grow the Center and allow it to improve the lives of so many more.”

Star Meijer – Honorary Campaign Co-Chair


Jeff Agar“Our son, Johnny, has been attending the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding ever since he was 4 years old- 10 years later he still has a huge smile on his face when he goes through those doors at Equest. The horses not only provide him with the necessary therapy for his Cerebral Palsy, but they, as well as the instructors and volunteers at Equest, help him to feel that sense of confidence and “can-do” attitude which is so necessary in his life. His pride radiates from him when he has finished his riding for the day. He knows he has accomplished something very special from a very special place. Through this Capital Campaign expansion, our wish is for more children to be able to experience what our son has.”

Jeff Agar – President of the Equest Board of Directors

Rachel Mraz“This campaign is an exciting opportunity to greatly improve and expand Equest’s facilities while increasing their capacity to serve riders.With Equest’s breadth of services- across West Michigan, in various disabilities, and in age of riders- the therapy that horses can offer is obvious not only from the smiles on the riders faces, but the success stories of individuals who have made significant progress after coming to the Equest Center.”

Rachel Mraz – Campaign Chair


Wendy Gerber“Equest Center provides a needed and valuable community service. I am impressed with the range of ages and disabilities served by the Equest Center. I am proud to serve as an honorary chair and to support this important effort.”

Wendy Gerber – Honorary Campaign Co-Chair


Kathy Ryan“I first stepped through the doors of Equest as a parent of a four year-old little boy with autism. Since that time,  Equest Center has changed both of our lives! As Executive Director, I am thrilled to be a part of the Many Hands, One Vision Campaign which will have a profound effect on even more individuals of all ages with a wide range of physical, mental and emotional disabilities. With the increased capacity and the addition of new therapy options , such as the Driving program and Sensory Trail I am confident I will have the privilege of witnessing many more life changing experiences from our amazing riders!”

Kathy Ryan – Executive Director

Many Hands, One Vision Campaign Committee:

Lori “Maranda” Cook
Beth Spica
Kevin Kuske
Jeff Ott
Kim Boyer
Maggie Lancaster
Lucienne Lightfoot

Many Thanks to our Valued Donors

Main Barn – Ethie’s Barn ~ The Haworth Family
Sensory Trail – Baudville
Indoor Riding Arena – Northern Cross Foundation
Outdoor Riding Arena – Amway
Horse Barn 1 – Wege Foundation
Horse Barn 2 – Available
Hay Barn – Available
New “Welcome” Center – Meijer
Tack Room – The Meijer Family
Bridge – Mike & Rachel Mraz
Classroom – Available
Feed Room – Jeffrey A. Ott Family

Diamond Level:

Northern Cross Foundation
The Springview Foundation
Amway
Baudville
Meijer
Frey Foundation
Wege Foundation
Mike & Rachel Mraz
Mary Free Bed Fund

Silver Level:

Wendy Gerber
Jeffrey A. Ott Family
Rinck & Marianna Heule
Baldwin Foundation

Bronze Level:

Eileen DeVries
Ken & Judy Betz
Henry Mast
Michael & Christina Rosloneic Family
The Aparche Foundation
Drs. Alfred & Genevieve Swanson
Rollin Gerstacher Foundation
Dogwood Foundation
Brian & Cheryl Doyle
Steve VanAndel Foundation
The Blodgett Foundation
Dietrich Foundation

Stalls:

Eileen DeVries
Ken & Judy Betz
Henry Mast
Vincent & Maci Spica
Double M Farms
Marian Listen
Stella Kape
Hadlee Kape
Sophia Ernsberger
Claire Hoop
Mike & Rachel Mraz
Michael & Christina Rosloneic Family
7 Additional Stalls: Available

Hands On Community Involvment

Equest Center has formed a very special partnership with Grand Rapids Community College and for three years was their major Multi-Disciplinary Community Partner. Virtually every student who attended Grand Rapids Community College completde some part of their coursework/activity at Equest Center. For many of the students from the inner city this was a FIRST experience in a farm setting with both horses and so many individuals with disabilities. A great deal of knowledge was gained by all who participated.

For the Building and Trades students the experience was much more in depth as they spent approximately 6 months using Equest Center as their classroom: renovating two barns and a house on the newly acquired land to make them usable for our program! This partnership enabled Equest Center to save THOUSANDS of dollars and meet some absolutely extraordinary individuals at the same time!

The following video depicts just some of the relationship between Grand Rapids Community College and Equest Center and the amazing results we have seen!