Founded in 1999, Saddle Up Therapeutic Riding Stables is a non-profit organization which provides a horseback riding program designed for physically and mentally challenged individuals. It is operated by trained and dedicated volunteer instructors and lay people. The executive directors are Lisa and Terry DeJaynes. Saddle Up received PATH International Premiere Accreditation in 2001, 2006 and 2012. Everyone involved with Saddle Up is exceptional. Our students, parents and volunteers are the strength and foundation for our accomplishments every day.
Our Mission Statement
To promote and support equine-facilitated activities for individuals with disabilities.
We promote the rehabilitation of individuals with physical, psychological and learning disabilities through equine-facilitated activities; to help establish therapeutic riding centers; support related medical research; and train and certify therapeutic riding instructors.
Major Benefits of Therapeutic Riding
Some major benefits of therapeutic riding include improve muscular tone, balance, posture, coordination, motor development, emotional development and psychosocial well-being.
Meeting the Needs of Exceptional People
We strive to improve a student’s self-confidence, muscle relaxation, strength and flexibility, and enhance balance and coordination. We also hope to bring joy to our students and parents through various activities. The program’s home is in Palmdale, California (North Los Angeles County). We serve a wide range of individuals living in the Antelope Valley area.
Our students represent a range of medical disabilities, including: cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, non-verbal disorders, seizure disorders, visual and hearing impairment, developmental and learning disabilities, and many others. For anyone, mounting a horse can be a frightening prospect. But before long, all of our children are wearing heartwarming grins that lift your heart. The opportunity for them to leave behind the world of doctors, hospitals and medicine is often more therapy than the best medical minds can deliver.
It is the strength of our parents that inspires us. In a world filled with challenge, strife and frustration, Saddle Up strives to provide our parents with support, understanding and even a little relief. It’s how we express appreciation to them for sharing the joy of their extraordinary children.
Saddle Up couldn’t exist without the grassroots efforts of our volunteers. Volunteers are integrated into literally every part of our program. Indeed, volunteers are our instructors, sidewalkers, fundraising members, board members and more. Our volunteers usually start out working with us on a limited basis, only to soon find themselves at Saddle Up every chance they get. They often tell us that working with Saddle Up children is just the therapy they need.
More Than Just a Pony Ride
For our children, Saddle Up provides more than just a good time. Research shows that students who participate in therapeutic riding can experience physical, emotional and mental rewards. For individuals with impaired mobility, horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves their bodies in a manner similar to a human walking gait. The rider must continuously contract and relax muscles to re-balance, improving balance, strength and flexibility. Individuals with learning or mental disabilities are motivated by riding to increase concentration, patience and discipline. If a psychological or emotional disability is present, the unique relationship formed with a horse can help improve interpersonal relationships. And as is expected, all riders can benefit from increased self-esteem and coping skills. Saddle Up incorporates goals for educational, behavioral, social and emotional growth into each of the riding lessons.
Lisa DeJaynes, with the invaluable assistance of her husband, Terry, and sons, Nick and Geoff, began this program because they believed there to be a need for it here in the Antelope Valley area. It seemed a natural thing to do considering their love for children and horses. They started out with one horse (Lucky) and two special needs children. Since then they have grown to 9 therapy horses and over 40 riders ranging in age from 3 years to young adulthood. The participants have a variety of diagnoses, including but not limited to: cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, deafness, and intellectual disabilities. This program has touched many young lives and benefits special needs children and their families here in the Antelope Valley. With the help of our very special volunteers we hope to continue meeting the needs of as many people as possible.
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