May 13, 2016
YourWilliamson.com: Celebrating 25 Years of Saddle Up!
With Co-Founder Lynne Evans
By Anna Robertson
“There is a place in our community that is doing something amazing. They are making dreams come true. They are making the impossible possible. They are bringing smiles to the faces of those faced with struggles that many cannot understand. Saddle Up! is a place where all children are equal in the saddle.
Saddle Up!, located at 1549 Old Hillsboro Road in Franklin, Tennessee, is one of the region’s largest and oldest equine therapy facilities serving youth with disabilities. They are a Premier Center accredited by PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International, the organization that sets the standards for safety and quality in equine assisted programs. The organization began with a dream to fill a need in the community, serving children with special needs and using horses to do that. One of the dreamers is Lynne Evans. She is the Co-Founder of Saddle Up! and has been involved with the organization since it began in 1990. Lynne is as therapeutic riding instructor with Saddle Up! and serves as a Pony Pal, Saddle Up! Equestrian Club teacher, horse handler for physical therapy, and a feeder. She has also served on many task forces and committees through the years, including strategic planning and fund raising.
We had the opportunity to learn more about Saddle Up! and Lynne with a little Q & A. Here is what she had to say:”
Interview with Lynne Evans – Co-Founder & Instructor of Saddle Up!
How and when did you become involved with Saddle Up!?
In November 1989 three other people – Charles Crafton, Alton Kelley and Nancy Wennberg – and I started dreaming about creating a new organization that would offer horse-based programs for special needs children. We had all been volunteers at another therapeutic riding center in Middle Tennessee and saw a need to expand services. In May 1990, we saw that dream become reality when the organization – Saddle Up! – had its first lessons for 10 riding students with the help of 30 volunteers. We relied on the generosity of Helen Winter who let us use her farm, Schandwin Farm, plus the many individuals who let us borrow horses and tack to get started. In January 1991, Saddle Up! was legally incorporated, and we use that date as the basis for our official launch. That’s why 2016 is the 25th anniversary of Saddle Up!.
What do you want our readers to know about the program and/or how they can help?
The two greatest needs of Saddle Up! are – donations and volunteers! Both are essential for our programs to be available and to keep our fees affordable. Individuals, businesses, foundations and other organizations are major sources of funds for Saddle Up!. The same is true of our fundraising events, the Music Country Grand Prix and Chukkers for Charity. In fact, when you add them all up, they combine for almost 80% of all revenues. I do want your readers to know that Saddle Up! puts the money to work where it counts the most – helping programs. Of every dollar spent, 79 cents supports programs. We work hard to be great stewards. We also always need volunteers, especially to work in our lessons and therapy sessions. Each rider at Saddle Up! may need up to three volunteers, so when you have 170 a week you can see why volunteers are so essential. That doesn’t even include the many volunteers who help with the barn, farm, horses, PR or our events.
As I mentioned, our generous donors and volunteers make our programs possible and they help keep our fees affordable. For example, it costs Saddle Up! $160 for a therapeutic riding lesson. Right now, we charge $25, and we offer scholarships to families with financial need. Our fee remains among the lowest, if not the lowest, for similar size therapeutic riding programs where the fee is in the $45-$65 a lesson range. It’s part of our ongoing commitment to make Saddle Up! the place “Where all children are equal in the saddle.”