Saddle Up!, a therapeutic horseback riding program for individuals with disabilities that is staffed by volunteers, will be celebrating on Saturday, Oct. 15, with its 25th Anniversary Homecoming event.
Free and open to the public, the event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Saddle Up!, 1549 Old Hillsboro Road.
“We hope that past and current participants, families, volunteers and donors plus our Middle Tennessee neighbors will join the fun,” said Executive Director Cheryl Scutt. “We have several activities planned for the entire family.”
- Demonstrations of therapeutic riding, physical therapy using a horse, and an unmounted program called equine assisted learning.
- Various games and activities at the “Kids Corral.”
- Hay rides.
- A musical freestyle dressage riding demonstration by former Saddle Up! rider and national high point dressage winner Grace Gregory.
- “Autographs” by equine Hershey, subject of a new book “Hershey Here! At Saddle Up!.” Author and Saddle Up! volunteer Crys Zinkiewicz will also be autographing the book and will have copies available to purchase at the event. Proceeds from the book benefit Saddle Up!.
- A “Volunteer Village” where Saddle Up! volunteers will show their many talents.
- Miniature horses Sherman and Webster posing for photos with guests in a special photo booth.
- A yard sale with something for almost everyone.
- Self-guided tours of the facility and farm including the Dugas Family Foundation Therapy Room opened in the summer of 2015.
“One highlight of the day is a brief noontime ceremony to celebrate the history of Saddle Up!,” Scutt said. “It’s been an amazing journey from where Saddle Up! started – right down the road on Old Hillsboro Road – to where it is today. A journey that started with 10 therapeutic riding students and 30 volunteers riding in daylight and good weather only to more than 250 participants in multiple programs and an amazing volunteer corps of 500!”
Saddle Up! was founded by four volunteers – Charles Crafton, Lynne Evans, Alton Kelley and Nancy Wennberg – and offered its first lessons in May 1990 at Schandwin Farm, owned by Helen Winters. The program relied on the generosity of Ms. Winters to use her farm and facilities plus volunteers who donated horses, tack and other program needs. Saddle Up! was legally incorporated as a nonprofit in January 1991, making 2016 the 25th anniversary year.
“Many Homecoming activities relate to our history and to our mission of serving children and youth with disabilities through the power of the horse. For example, there was a point in Saddle Up!’s history where a yard sale helped keep the program going. A former Board member, Cheryl Magli, went to numerous yard sales as they were ending, asked for things that didn’t sell, and then used those items as the basis for the Saddle Up! yard sale. She’s chairing our Homecoming yard sale too.
“Our event sponsors – Barge Cauthen & Associates, Bullocksmith, and R.C. Mathews Contractor – were the ones who designed and built our current facility, which was a dream come true with its indoor arena,” she continued. “So we hope that anyone who’s part of the past as well as the present will attend.”
The Men of St. Paul’s will have lunch available to purchase on the grounds, and there will be live music.
The mission of Saddle Up! is to provide children and youth with disabilities the opportunity to grow and develop through therapeutic, educational and recreational activities with horses. Saddle Up! has served more than 1,300 children with disabilities, provided more than 50,000 hours of services, and cared for more than 130 noble horses who served our program in 25 years of service. Saddle Up! offers recreational therapeutic riding, physical and occupational therapy, a school-based equine assisted learning program, the Saddle Up! Equestrian Club, and workshops/seminars. More than 500 volunteers gave over 16,000 hours of service at Saddle Up! in 2015. Saddle Up! is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center and the only member center in Tennessee of the American Hippotherapy Association.
For more information, visit www.saddleupnashville.org.
2016 Saddle Up! graduates with staff and volunteers during April 2016 ceremonies at the annual SUPER Show. The 2016 graduates are part of the more than 250 program participants served in year-round programs of therapeutic riding, physical/occupational therapy or equine assisted learning.
The featured photo shows Saddle Up! participants and volunteers in 1992 at Schandwin Farm, where the program began with 10 riders and 30 volunteers.