Making a Difference: Saddles of Joy

YUMA, Ariz. – “ It’s wonderful to have something I love, but to be able to share that and to see what it does for all these kids, you see walking around, and the volunteers you’re seeing out here the lives that’s its changed,” says Saddles of Joy Inc. Founder Barbara Tomlinson regarding why she started the non-profit organization.

It’s been shown that the gentle nature of our four legged friends help us humans physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s this very powerful bond that Saddles of Joy Inc. of Yuma County, uses to heal those in our community.

“Saddles of Joy got started as a result of my experience with my own son and because of what he went through as a young person, I started Saddles because I knew the value of the horse and how much it can work with the human body,” says Tomlinson.

The special bond between the horse and human can result in increased self esteem, communication, and the warmth and rhythm of the horse can also help the rider with their flexibility, strength, and balance. But of course this all doesn’t come without a bit of hard work.

Tomlinson explains, “Before they come here they are groomed they are ready to be ridden the tack is put on and everybody is ready to go before the kids get here.”

In growing their organization, Saddles partners with schools and juvenile programs along with other organizations to not only to heal, but educate the community throughout the year.

“We’re averaging with our private kids probably 10 to 20 kids a month and that doesn’t include our off-site events,” Tomlinson explains.

It’s not only the riders who learn, the volunteers learn valuable lessons as well.

“So I started doing what all of our volunteers are doing and they are a big part of our organization here, to help with the animals, to help them with the therapy with these thousand pound animals. It’s is just amazing what they can do and how they provide therapy for children,” says volunteer and Board Member Maria Cancilla.

Child or adult the overall goal is to overcome, something Barbara says made her life experience turn this dream into a reality.

Tomlinson concludes, “What it’s meant to me was to take all the pain and suffering that I went through with my son, and all the bad times and I made a decision. I can either become bitter and angry or I can take what I’ve learn and take what I love, which is the horse and do something positive.”

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