Saddle Up!
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1549 Old Hillsboro Road
Franklin, TN 37069
Organization Details



Saddle Up!'s mission is to provide children and youth with disabilities the opportunity to grow and develop through therapeutic, educational and recreational activities with horses. Saddle Up! is a PATH International Premier Accredited Center which provides high-quality programs in the field of equine-assisted services to children and youth from 2 years old to 26 years old. Based on the child's needs and interests, we can provide Adaptive Riding, Therapy Services, Equine Assisted Learning, Fun on the Farm, Saddle Up! Equestrian Club, Interactive Vaulting, and/or Alumni Transitions. Nothing can compare to the power of the horse. The auto industry has put "horsepower" into their engines for decades, but there is a "horse power" beyond strength and speed that only a real horse can provide. Saddle Up! partners with specially trained therapy horses to offer children and youth with disabilities a unique environment. Our horses provide movement, support, learning opportunities, strength, stability, companionship, and much more to participants in all of our different programs. Our PATH Intl. Certified Instructors and AHA Trained Therapists customize programs to meet the need of each participant. As an organization, Saddle Up! relies heavily on our dedicated volunteers. To find out more information about our organization, visit our website at


In November 1989, a core group of volunteers quietly launched a dream. They wanted to give wings to children with disabilities through a program which they named Saddle Up! focusing on recreational activities with horses. The dreams of that core group have grown far beyond even their imaginations.

Beginning as a one night a week program - in daylight and good weather only - for 10 students, Saddle Up! is now a year-round program that will serve nearly 180 children/youth this year. Saddle Up! is the oldest and largest program of its kind in the region, and the only one exclusively serving children and youth who have disabilities. We are a Premier Center accredited by PATH International, the organization that sets the standards for safety and quality in equine assisted programs.


At Saddle Up!, lives change - one hoof beat at a time. We serve a child from their 2nd birthday every year until they turn 26. Our agency has a long term focus on depth of impact over a 30-year period. Our families are often not considered low income, but the cost of raising a child with a disability (one parent's lost income due to caregiving on top of medical expenses) renders many of our families low income. Our goal is access to deep and lasting change through affordable programs that have measurable outcomes. For 30 years, Saddle Up! has been the place "Where all children are equal in the saddle." Saddle Up! continues that enduring commitment to help children and youth with disabilities grow and develop through therapeutic, educational and adaptive recreational instruction with horses.

Our 2018 highlights include:
* Education and advocacy about the depth of equine assisted activities and their impact through video 'hero stories' that showcase our children's physical, emotional, social, and mental progress towards independent living goals. First screening was at our new Hoofbeats and Heroes event at the Franklin Theatre.
* Formation of a new assessment committee with partners from academic, healthcare, equine therapy arenas, to determine pre and post assessment tools for measurement and research of secondary outcomes of adaptive riding. Adapting the use and marketing of our own RIDES? evaluation system, to better set and track measurable outcomes, both primary and secondary.
*One of our riders was selected as rider of the year by PATH Intl. for achieving his rider goals.
* Reducing the number of children waiting for access to our programs expanding our schedule offerings.
* Increasing our visibility in the broader region that we serve through a robust social media campaign and attendance at fairs and agency networking events. Focus on educating other agencies and civic organizations serving low income families that have children with disabilities to provide education about our programs, scholarships, and financial aid for fees.
* Maintaining a solid financial position through the combination of planning, generous support from our community, and stewardship of all resources entrusted to Saddle Up!.

For 2019 forward, Saddle Up! is focused on:
* Building more robust measurement and assessment systems and embarking on research surrounding the depth of impact on daily independent living skills that our children achieve in our programs.
* Creating rider centered care teams with specific end goals aligning instructors, volunteers, parents, and riders.
* Maintaining strong financial health that helps keep our fees affordable and also dedicates the majority of dollars donated into program support.
* Ensuring that we maintain a culture of excellence for safety, quality of programming, staffing, lifelong learning, positive culture and professional standards of operation.


Scholarship Funding; Financial Aid; Horse Donations and Volunteers remain our greatest needs. We rely almost exclusively on the generosity of individuals, businesses and foundations to fund the gap between fees and actual cost of programs, including scholarships for riders. Gifts of any size are deeply appreciated and help make a difference. For example, the cost of horse health, nutrition and boarding is on average $7500 per horse, annually. We chose not to raise our Adaptive Riding lesson fees, and the fee is still only $30 -- 25% of actual cost per ride. Our program could not operate without the dedication of the 500+ volunteers who serve our program participants and throughout the organization including our Board, lesson volunteers, barn volunteers, committee volunteers, special event volunteers and more. Saddle Up! was founded by volunteers and remains a volunteer-driven organization. We train and background check all volunteers at a cost of $100 per volunteer.

CEO Statement

Honoring our history and building our future, Saddle Up! remains a mission-driven organization that is committed to providing quality, safe and effective programs that deliver profound lifelong impact. Saddle Up! is so much more than just a pony ride for an atypical child. We provide Individualized Education Plans that utilize the motivation, movement, and animal feedback mechanisms of the horse. The gait, build and temperament of the horse is prescribed for each child. Trained instructors and licensed therapists incorporate family, school, and social goals to achieve specific, measurable results: core strength, sustained stretching, balance, attention, focus, sequencing, processing speed, social connection, and more. The non-judgmental bond with the horse provides a chance for kids to try without fear of failure. Horses give biofeedback while motivating! While tacking and grooming their horses, our students learn responsibility, how to follow directions, information sequencing, and respect for boundaries, in addition to achieving therapy goals. Our non-clinical and non-academic environment provides a unique setting that brings remarkable outcomes, hard work disguised as fun! Evidence of the program's quality can be seen by the achievement of 100% compliance in re-accreditation as a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) Intl. Premier Accredited Center. Independent evaluators perform an extensive on-site visit to assess Saddle Up! in the areas of program, facilities and administration in terms of actual practices observed and written documentation. We take great pride in our score because it reflects our steadfast commitment to and implementation of the PATH Intl. safety and quality standards. Fewer than 30% PATH Intl. member centers have earned premier accredited center status. We know that without our dedicated corps of volunteers, now standing 500 strong, Saddle Up! would either have to drastically reduce the number of children we serve or significantly increase our budget. At the same time, we're working to continually improve our volunteer program with upgrades in training and expanded volunteer roles that better utilize the skills and abilities volunteers bring to Saddle Up!. If you visit Saddle Up!, or view our Hero stories, you'll quickly see that we rely upon the power of the horse, the commitment of our volunteers, and the excellence of our highly qualified staff to bring our mission to life. Although our riders experience therapeutic benefits from their lessons, most of them think of their Saddle Up! time as their sport.

Board Chair Statement

Saddle Up! is proud to carry on the visions and dreams of our founders, who saw a need and answered it with action. At Saddle Up!, we see amazing things on an almost daily basis. The child who doesn't speak saying his or her first word -- ever -- to his/her horse. The child who relies on a wheelchair for mobility sitting astride a horse, experiencing through the motion of the horse what walking feels like and seeing the world from a totally new perspective. The child with autism responding in ways parents didn't think possible. These and hundreds of other stories are threads in the fabric that is Saddle Up! As we look to the future, several challenges continue to stand out. The first is to expand our base of supporters, both donors and volunteers. We also strive to maximize our children's outcomes, reduce our wait list and partner to support the education and advocacy of our internal and external community. We continue our efforts on all of these challenges and know that with the continued generosity of our community, Saddle Up! will remain the place 'Where all children are equal in the saddle.'

Concerning the first challenge, we know this program works. We also know it is not cheap. Providing a therapeutic riding program and therapy services requires financial support for all the components required - the horses, equipment, feed, tack, land, facilities, trained and background checked volunteers, trained instructors, licensed therapists and more. It costs Saddle Up! at least $120 to put each child on a horse for one ride. For our largest program, Adaptive Riding, lessons cost our families only $30 per lesson or 25% of the cost per ride. As our programs have grown, and costs have increased, so has the need for increased support. We have also experienced rising costs for needed supplies, fuel, hay, facility maintenance and more. A huge thank you to our current supporters!
If you're not a current supporter, please consider a gift of any size to help keep our programs available for the atypical children we serve.

Concerning volunteers, we always need volunteers. We could not provide our programs without the more than 500 volunteers who give their time to our non-profit. For each rider, it takes up to 3 volunteers to execute a lesson. They are priceless! Without them, either we would be serving less children or our costs would skyrocket to maintain our current services. To our current volunteers, thank you! To those of you interested in volunteering, please check the calendar on our website,, for new volunteer training dates. We are confident that as more Middle Tennesseans know about the work at Saddle Up!, they will want to join us in making positive gains in the lives of the children we serve. With committed leadership from our Board, support from our volunteers and donors, our amazing families, and the dedication and expertise of our staff, Saddle Up! is moving forward on a firm foundation.

Service Categories

Primary Category: Human Services  - Children's and Youth Services 
Secondary Category: Recreation & Sports  - Equestrian 
Tertiary Category: Youth Development  - Single Organization Support 

Areas Served

In 2020 Saddle Up! served children from 7+ counties in Tennessee, but is not limited to those TN counties.

TN - Robertson
TN - Coffee
TN - DeKalb
TN - Marshall
TN - Humphreys
TN - Cheatham
TN - Davidson
TN - Dickson
TN - Maury
TN - Montgomery
TN - Rutherford
TN - Sumner
TN - Williamson
TN - Wilson