Saddle Pals


Therapeutic Horsemanship Program

The simple act of riding a horse can have intense positive results for a person with disabilities. Adapted riding and other equine-assisted activities (EAA) benefit those with cognitive, physical, and psychological disabilities. These may include, but are not limited to: cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, visual or hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury, spina bifida, or learning disabilities. Learning to ride a horse has been shown to improve coordination, balance and posture, and it helps the student to develop better self-awareness and self-esteem.

How UCP Saddle Pals Works

Nationally accredited by PATH International, UCP Saddle Pals promotes growth, independence and improved quality of life for riders, helping them:

  • Develop a bond with the horse
  • Learn responsibilities associated with riding and animal care
  • Expand their knowledge and skills in a fun, supportive environment

Offering weekly adapted horsemanship lessons to people age 4 and up. Expert staff members create individualized lesson plans that help riders meet their short-term and long-range goals and overcome fears and challenges. Many of the skills learned in the riding arena even transfer to other areas of the riders’ lives.

We operate our program at two different facilities to better serve the needs of the community. Our program in Orangevale is currently on hiatus. In addition, our Grass Valley facility is open one day a week.

UCP Saddle Pals is proud to be recognized by PATH International as a Premier Accredited Center. PATH International establishes industry standards for horsemanship program safety, administrative guidelines, facility requirements, and instructor training and certification. Of the nearly 700 PATH International member centers throughout the world, only approximately 200 have the distinction of Premier Accredited Center status. We are proud to be one of those centers! Visit PATH International for more information on equine-assisted activities (EAA).

Learn more about the benefits of riding.

UCP Saddle Pals 2018 Calendar

Saddle Pals meets on Mondays at Blue Fountain Farm

Spring Session
April 2,9,16,23,30
May 7,14,21,28
June 4

Summer Session
June 25
July 2,9,16,23

Fall Session
August 27
September 3,10,17,24
October 1,8,15,22,29
November 5

Volunteer Appreciation Party
December 2, 2018

Mission Statement

The mission of Saddle Pals Therapeutic Center, a division of UCP of Sacramento and Northern California, is to provide equine-assisted activities in a safe, goal-oriented, professional environment for individuals with developmental or acquired disabilities resulting in growth, independence and improved quality of life.

Program Director
Martha Kubitschek

Martha Kubitschek helped to start the Grass Valley Saddle Pals program with Deborah Van Buren O.T. in 1996. Saddle Pals was, at the time, a satellite program linked with the larger Orangevale Program.  Deborah and Martha had met at a Hippotherapy seminar and shared the same passion of working with horses to help individuals with disabilities.

Martha had a career working with emotionally-disturbed children as a Behavior Modification Specialist through CATTE ( Center for Attachment Therapy, Teaching & Education). She specialized in treatment  of attachment-disorder children She also was certified as a Residential Services Specialist with the State of California serving the physically and emotionally challenged community. Before starting Saddle Pals, she had also gotten her Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification through NARHA (North American Riding for the Handicapped Assoc.) which is now PATH Intl. Martha studied and taught classical ballet for 10 years which has added to her understanding of balance and movement.

Martha has owned and worked with horses most of her life. Growing up in Yosemite and Stanislaus National Forest and living near a pack station with 30 horses was heaven. Her mom’s dad was a Montana cowboy who bred ranch horses. Her Dad’s family were civil engineers and cattle ranchers in Texas. Martha is married, has three sons and a daughter.

Program Manager
Jane DeZell

Jane DeZell began her career in mental health, finding her work with children diagnosed with autism the most rewarding. Yet she soon began a new career in fire fighting, and upon retirement, decided to return to her first love – horses. She returned to school and received an associate’s degree in equine sciences. She began looking for an opportunity to combiner her love of horses and her interest in working with people with special needs, and in 2001, found UCP Saddle Pals. She began volunteering as a sidewalker, even bringing her Tennessee Walking horse, Red, to the program. In 2005, she became a NARHA certified instructor, and in 2009 she accepted the position as director. Through UCP Saddle Pals, she has been able to combine her love for horses and her interest in helping people with special needs.

Contact Information

Mailing Address – P.O. Box 1464, Grass Valley, CA 95945
Phone: (530) 268-8785

Martha Kubitscheck -Program Director
Jane DeZell- Program Manager


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