Having grown up in the saddle and with a driving force to serve and broaden the horizons of challenged children, Saddle Up! co-founder Alton Kelley worked with Nancy Wennberg, Charles Crafton and Lynne Evans to establish one of the nation’s first recreational therapeutic horseback riding programs. Designed specifically for children and in compliance with the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) Saddle Up! was founded in 1989 to provide services to local disabled children and youths. With a stable of twenty specially trained horses, Saddle Up! served one hundred and eighty seven challenged riders last year, providing them the opportunity to grow and develop through recreational activities with horses.
Accepting of devices and equipment and forgiving of inexperienced or unbalances riders, the program’s therapy horses are all obedient to both voice and leg signals and are comfortable with a variety of handlers and experiences. The abilities of each individual child is the focus of all that happens at Saddle Up! but it is the power of the horse, whose movements, emotional connections and spirit, that forms the foundation of the program.
In November of 2009 the relationship, that rider Andrew W had formed with his horse Elvis, brought national attention to Saddle Up! Recipient of the prestigious NARHA Independent Youth Equestrian Of The Year Award, Andrew W was recognized not only for the special relationship he had with his horse , but also for representing the power of equestrian assisted activities to improve lives.
Almost exclusively relying on donations and grants to cover their direct program cost, Saddle Up! operates with a full-time staff of eight, a part-time staff that averages twenty and close to three hundred volunteers who all work to serve the program’s young riders. Co-founder and regular volunteer Alton Kelly, spoke for both the staff and volunteers when he stated that working with the children at Saddle Up! is a fulfilling and inspiring experience.
Saddle Up! is located at 1549 Old Hillsboro Road, Franklin. To learn more about Saddle Up! or to inquire about volunteer opportunities please call 794-1150 or visit their web site at http://www.saddleupnashville.org/