PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — The Saddle Up Riding Club is an equine therapy center in Florida.
It was started 18 years ago by Kellie Sipos but in 2021 she thought it may all be coming to an end.
The owner of the property the club sat on wanted to sell and asked Saddle Up to vacate. Fortunately, days later someone purchased the property and kept the club in place.
“I tell people all of the time I have memories that will last me way beyond my grave someday, I will smile for the rest of my life," said Kellie Sipos.
The mission of Saddle Up Riding Club is to improve and change lives. Kellie said today 75% of her clientele is autistic, and many others have physical disabilities.
“For the rider who is in a wheelchair, unable to walk, that movement of the horse, takes the same thing with their hips, building core muscles, their balance and build their strength quite a bit,” explained Sipos.
Those benefits are a dream come true for Melissa DiCesare’s 7-year-old son Hudson. He is completely non-verbal, cannot walk or even sit up on his own but, he finds new life at Saddle Up. Hudson’s face lights up with joy when he gets on a horse.
“I think any mother would agree [that] when you see your child happy and enjoying things all children can enjoy, it’s almost hard to put into words,” said DiCesare. “We were thrilled when we found out this was an opportunity he could have.”
Kellie said horses are such amazing creatures who do amazing things. Saddle Up is taking 11 students to the Special Olympics area competition to see if they will qualify for states. Kellie said every year she’s had students make it to the state round.
If you think your child could benefit from equine therapy at Saddle Up you can fill out the forms here.
Saddle Up also needs volunteers. You do not need to have any prior experience with horses to help out. If you are interested in volunteering, visit saddleupridingclub.org/volunteer.
This story was originally published by James Tully of WFTS in Tampa, Florida.