Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Because of Horses

Jan 5, 2018

On this week’s Because of Horses podcast, Elise talks with a guest panel about equine therapy — Founder of Equest Therapeutic Riding Susan Schwartz, Equest’s CEO Lili Kellogg, and Jeff Hensley, Director of Clinical and Veteran Services of Equest’s Hooves for Heroes program.


Equest is a nonprofit, therapeutic riding center in Dallas, Texas. For 37 years, Equest has helped people live fuller, richer lives by connecting them with horses. Historically, their focus has been on special needs populations — children and adults with physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities — but for the last six years, through the Hooves for Heroes program, they have extended their reach to veterans and military families, helping them transition back to civilian life.


As one of the first therapeutic riding programs in the US, Equest is renowned for its legacy of caring, in addition to its stellar clinical success. Episode 12's guest panel discusses how Equest began, the program's evolution,  the staff's day-to-day activities, and their personal observations and experiences. The work Susan, Lili, and Jeff perform some might describe as borderline miraculous:  giving comfort and peace to those with PTSD, depression, or severe anxiety; providing a place of belonging and hope to many who’ve been marginalized and viewed as disabled; sharing the freedom, power, and speed of riding for individuals with physical limitations. For the staff and volunteers at Equest and Hooves for Heroes, this is only a small glimpse of the incredible difference they’re making every single day in the lives of the people they serve.


Topic of Discussion:

[2:08] Equest Founder Susan Schwartz discusses Equest's start.

[7:00] Susan’s awareness of the "stars aligning" in creating Equest.

[9:28] The amazing feedback from family members whose loved ones improved through therapeutic riding.

[10:25] Susan’s touching experience with a mother whose child's shoes became dirty.

[13:09] How the program is changing the lives of the volunteers and staff, as well as the participants.

[14:00] Equest’s testimonials reveal the powerful nature of their program.

[17:42] Lili describes the connection between the horse and participant, and its role in therapeutic riding.

[22:09] How the first two riders inspired the program's original name, “Free to Ride.”

[24:19] The nuanced benefits of riding horses and having horses in your life.

[25:34] Lili’s touching story from another therapeutic riding program.

[27:16] The common denominator among Equest’s riders. no matter their age, ethnicity, or challenge.

[28:11] Jeff speaks about their veterans' program, Hooves for Heroes, and how it has changed his own life.

[29:40] About Jeff’s service to the U.S. military and his transition back to civilian life.

[31:50] How Jeff came to join Equest, became head of the veteran’s program, and how the experience aided his own healing.

[35:33] How Hooves for Heroes has helped military family members and veterans.

[39:12] The evolution of equine therapy and Susan's view of its future.

[43:53] Jeff’s insight on the importance of sharing therapeutic riding with the world.

[44:49] Susan touches on the history of therapeutic riding and why she believes the industry has changed so much since she got involved.

[46:41] Lili’s views on the development of therapeutic riding.

[48:34] Overall advice for people looking for a therapeutic riding programs near them.

[50:55] The incredible facilities, horses, and volunteers at Equest.

[54:19] Closing thoughts from Lili, Susan, and Jeff.

[55:26] Where to find more information on Equest and Hooves for Heroes.


Know Someone Inspirational, Whose Life Has Been Forever Changed Because of Horses? Because of Horses would love to get to share their story!

To recommend someone please send an email to


Discover More About this Week’s Guests — Susan Schwartz, Lili Kellogg & Jeff Hensley


Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo


Mentioned in this Episode:

PATH International

Horses and Humans Research Foundation


Like what you hear? Because of Horses would love to hear your feedback!

Please email to send Because of Horses your thoughts.


To Support the Podcast:

  • Donate on Patreon to help keep Because of Horses running — all amounts are welcome!