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Adopt-A-Horse Program Offers a Unique Way to Support Equests Therapeutic Horseback Riding Programs

Kennebunk, Maine (September, 2002) - There are over 10,000 children and adults in southern Maine with special needs. Equest, a 501(c)(3) non-profit therapeutic horseback riding program, was founded in 1998 to serve the demand for non-conventional, yet complimentary therapeutic services for people with physical and mental disabilities. To raise enough funds to cover the cost of therapy horses for their therapeutic horseback riding programs, Equest has created the Adopt-A-Horse Program.

This unique fund raising program encourages corporations, foundations and major donors to make a lasting contribution to Equest in a way that connects them more personally. The funding received through the Adopt-A-Horse program enables Equest to provide the best care possible for their five therapy horses, and at the same time, continue to keep their rates affordable.

“Individuals with physical disabilities who participate in the therapeutic horseback riding programs at Equest benefit from the movement and warmth of a therapy horse which helps them to normalize muscle tone, increase circulation and increase range of motion and body awareness,” says Sarah Chappell Armentrout, co-founder of Equest. “Riders with cognitive disabilities have an opportunity to work on attention span, sequencing skills, language and appropriate communication and social interaction skills in a fun and motivating setting,” adds Armentrout.

Equests students develop lasting and meaningful relationships with their equine partners which provide them with an overall feeling of well-being. Equest also personalizes the Adopt-A-Horse experience to donors by assigning them a specific horse. Recently Carnival King was adopted by Planet Dog Philanthropy, a non-profit grant making organization created by Planet Dog of Portland. “Carnival” as he is endearingly known, is a 22 year-old, 17-hand English thoroughbred with a history as long and rich as his lineage.

Carnival came to Equest after retiring from a long, competitive career in the showing, hunting, and eventing world. Foaled in Ireland and shown in England for the first half of his life, Carnival King accumulated numerous Hunter and Working Hunter Championships culminating in winning the Middleweight Hunter of the Year title at the “Horse of the Year” show held in London in 1989., His lineage boasts of royalty and more fame, with a sire who was owned by the The Queen as well as a brother, Duneight Carnival, who competed at the Barcelona Olympics. Carnivals grandsire, Crepello, won the English Derby in 1957.

Carnival King was purchased in 1990 by a British woman living in the U.S. who continued to show him in eventing and dressage competitions until he was 19 years old. In 2000, his owner, a friend of Equests founders, decided to retire Carnival, but knew that being “turned out to pasture” was not the right fit for him, so she donated him to the Equest Therapeutic Riding Center to be a therapy horse for handicapped, yet aspiring equestrians. Forever a professional when it comes to his work, with his large stature but gentle and noble qualities, Carnival now proudly lives out his twilight years carrying Equests disabled riders to new heights.

The Kennebunk Savings Foundation was the first sponsor of the Adopt-A-Horse program by funding Dusty, Equest’s newest therapy horse. In addition to Dusty’s expenses for his first year at Equest, the Foundation also paid for the 14 year-old quarter horse’s long haul shipping expenses that brought him to Equest in April form Sun Valley, Idaho.

Operating a full-service, non-profit, therapeutic horseback riding program on a 90-acre farm in Lyman, Maine, Equest has served hundreds of children and adults since 1998. Its mission is to foster positive horse and human interaction within an experiential learning environment in order to facilitate physical, mental and emotional well-being. Their vision is to build a diverse set of equine-facilitated therapeutic programs and activities based on a philosophy of inclusion, experiential learning and respect for people and the natural world.

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