Know your nonprofit: Saddle Pals |

Know your nonprofit: Saddle Pals

Editor’s note: Saddle Pals Therapeutic Riding Center, a division of United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Sacramento, operates a center at a farm on Grizzly Bear Drive in southern Nevada County.

What is your mission?

Provide equine-assisted activities in a safe, goal-oriented, professional environment for people with developmental or acquired disabilities, resulting in growth, independence and improved quality of life.

What is your yearly budget, and how many paid employees do you have?

Our budget is about $29,200 for the program in Nevada County. Of each dollar donated, 97 percent goes directly into the program.

Our trained staff includes more than 50 volunteers, certified instructors, and the equivalent of one half-time paid staff member.

What is your nonprofit’s history?

Saddle Pals-Grass Valley began providing services in 1996. We are accredited through North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, which establishes industry standards. Of nearly 700 member centers worldwide, we are among 200 to be distinguished as a premier accredited center.

Who is your primary audience?

People ages 4 to older than 65 with developmental or acquired disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, visual or hearing impairment, learning disabilities or other issues. We strive for independence through horsemanship.

The benefits of therapeutic horseback riding include improved balance, posture and coordination, increasing strength and muscle tone. Attention span, concentration and verbal skills can be increased.

List your biggest achievements.

The many smiles that we see each week.

Students gain a sense of achievement and increased self-esteem while actively working with the horses. Some students begin the program nonverbal, and with time, begin speaking – especially to their horses.

We have had wheelchair-bound students who, when mounted, were able to guide their horses on their own.

List your biggest challenges.

The effects of the current economy: All state funding has been cut. This directly affects our students’ ability to continue in this valuable program.

What is your No. 1 short-term goal?

Raise enough money to provide scholarships so our students can continue to ride. This opportunity is too valuable to our community, to see it lost because of lack of funding.

What is your No. 1 long-term goal?

Establish a “Horses for Heroes” program to provide services for service personnel and veterans who have sustained combat injuries or combat trauma. We are starting to develop this program to help them regain their strength and balance, physically and emotionally.

What is your major fundraiser and date?

Pumpkins and Ponies, on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Our second annual family event is free and open to the public, held at the beautiful Blue Fountain Farm in southern Nevada County. It will include costume contests ($5 entry) and prizes to all who enter, live music, great raffle prizes, live auction, barbecue, equine entertainment, silent auction, therapeutic horse show and more.

Proceeds will support scholarships so our students can continue to ride.

What is the best way to help?

Become a volunteer, the heart of our program. No experience is necessary, and we provide all needed training.

Make a donation of money, tack, equipment, or the use of gentle, sound horses.

Contact Jane de’Zell (530) 268-8785 or Joanie Salyer (530) 432-2422.

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