SaddleUp! Foundation to close doors December 31st after 13 years of operations
“It is with great sadness that we announce the closure of our wonderful SaddleUp! Foundation,” said Shery and Jim Galbreath, the Co-Founders.
‘There are so many people to thank for making SaddleUp! Foundation (SUF) one of the largest and most respected equine therapy centers in America. The vision and initial implementation of SaddleUp! Foundation in 2002, came from my wife, Shery McDonald Galbreath (“Ms. Bear” as the students fondly called her)’. Inspired by a disabled young girl who just wanted to ride a horse, she began on the journey which eventually became SaddleUp! Foundation. “With great passion and creativity, ‘ Bear’ started the program from our back yard in Cherry Hills Village,” said husband, Jim.
With the help of our dedicated staff and through community fundraising and grants, the program grew to 150 patients per week. By 2013, SUF had outgrown the Galbreath’s Parker ranch and was relocated to a larger ranch in Elizabeth. As of today, this is where the programs and services will continue until December 19th, 2015. At that time, there will be a closure on December 31st.
Sometimes even with our best intentions and circumstances outside of our control present insurmountable obstacles. Last spring we discovered that there were some changes in Medicaid that presented a question on whether or not horses can be used in physical and occupational therapy sessions, SaddleUp! self-reported our concerns to both Medicaid and to our auditor and suspended our services to those patients. We were cautioned that a response from Medicaid to our inquiry could take months, perhaps longer.
SaddleUp! continued to provide outpatient therapy on a private pay and insurance supported basis. In August, SaddleUp! had another successful Suitcase Party event, providing us with enough income to support operations for four full months. This buoyed our confidence in hopes that the support for the organization and our work remained strong. SaddleUp! leadership and staff remained confident that resolution from Medicaid would come. In late October we learned that without clarification from Medicaid on our past billing, SaddleUp! would have to add a contingent liability to our annual tax-filings- one that represented every dollar ever received from Medicaid. This represents the amount of money that Medicaid could potentially ask be returned. To date, we have yet to receive any direction from the Colorado Medicaid office. A liability of this size makes it impossible to fundraise. Funding from foundations cannot go towards debt retirement and both corporate and foundation funders require charities to be financially sound. Without grants and sponsorship support, SaddleUp! cannot support the costs of our operations.
Bear continues to say “since our inception, our dedicated and loyal staff along with the Board of Directors has worked relentlessly to keep the foundation going and growing. We are eternally grateful for all of those individuals both past and present for their efforts. The SaddleUp! Foundation could not have been a success without the financial support from many of our dear friends, our families, corporate sponsors, private donors and board members.”
This funding in conjunction with the Denver Suitcase Party, grants from private foundations and government sponsored programs enabled SUF to achieve remarkable success in providing therapy to so many with special needs.
“At the core, SUF has always stated that they could not function without the great efforts by dozens of volunteers helping us daily with lessons as well as their support for the remarkable “Suitcase Party” which was their annual fundraiser held each August. For all of those who have contributed to our success through volunteering your time to this program we extend our special thanks. ” says Jim Galbreath.
SUF believes that their accomplishments within the community of equine assisted therapies have been immeasurable. SUF has provided opportunities to many patients who we hope can take this treatment modality to the next level. It is our hope that the future for equine assisted therapies will be enhanced by the new frontier of educational facilities and by legislation which will help the medical health providers further recognize the value of these programs.
Bear and Jim and the BOD along with the staff lament ‘To all of those whom SUF has served, you will never know how special we feel that your time was with us and we hope that our service enhanced your lives as much as it did ours. We salute all of you, our friends of SaddleUp! Foundation for your wonderful support. Although we are filled with sadness at this moment, we are also filled with pride knowing that nothing but good was achieved through providing these therapeutic services to our community. It is with grateful hearts that we send this message.’
For further information, visit our website www.saddleupfoundation.org.
With our humble thanks,
Bear and Jim Galbreath, the Board of Directors, and dedicated SUF staff