Rose Garden Partner Profile ~ Saddle Up Equine Therapy
A lifelong horsewoman, world-class cutting horse champion, and nationally-ranked American Quarter Horse Association breeder, Lynn Anderson was a celebrated star in the horse world years before she ever walked into a Nashville recording studio. Her love of horses and riding was as much a part of her DNA as the voice that made her one country music’s most honored artists.
“Grammy and Grandpa used to tell Mom that she could sing before she could talk and ride horseback before she could walk”, Lynn’s daughter Lisa Sutton recalled recently. “I believe Mom’s happiest days were the days she spent in the saddle, or with her horses. Seeing that side of her as I grew up is why I gravitated to riding and show horses when I was a teenager. People have said that I have her voice, but it’s the horsewoman she was that was her greatest gift to me.”
“Saddle Up Nashville began as an outgrowth of Tom T. Hall’s wife, Dixie Hall’s, AnimaLand Shelter in Franklin, Tennessee,” Lisa remembered. “Mom brought Skipster’s Chief, one of our quieter horses to Miss Dixie’s shelter for my baby sister, Bunny’s birthday party one year when I was eleven or twelve. One of the kids in the group was wheelchair-bound with Spina Bifida. No matter what activity we were doing, everyone was, you know, taller than him. But when I saddled up Chief for the kids to ride, Mom had an idea…one that came from her Grandmother, Grace.”
Like all great ideas, Lynn’s was stunningly simple, but one that would have far deeper, wide-reaching consequences. With hesitant encouragement from the child’s mother, Lynn took him out of his chair, and with support and help from others, placed him gently in the saddle atop Chief’s back.
The effect—the transformation—was almost instantaneous. Suddenly, a child that might never have known what it was like to experience life at his full height was just as big as anyone, when he was sitting tall in the saddle.
Today, Saddle Up Nashville is one of the top accredited equine therapy centers in the eastern United States, offering seven unique and specialized programs led by rigorously trained instructors and staff that provide therapeutic training for hundreds of children with special abilities and needs. As one of its first architects, Lynn’s connection with, and support of Saddle Up was one of her proudest accomplishments during her life. Through daughter Lisa Sutton’s dedication and continued involvement, it remains one of her most lasting contributions. A contribution that began with an idea. An idea handed down through generations of Andersons. An idea that has changed the lives of countless hundreds of children. An idea that was as true when Lynn Anderson first heard her grandmother speak it decades ago on the plains of North Dakota as Saddle Up Nashville has proved it is today.
...That there’s nothing better for the inside of a kid than the outside of a horse.