Today we’re talking about combatting the suicide rates of veterans, active duty military, and first responders, and promoting mental health wellness and healing to these heroes through equine-assisted learning and activities.

Our veterans, active duty military, and first responders often suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Suicide rates for law enforcement and fire fighters are on the rise, and the suicide rate for veterans is over 20 per day!

These numbers continue to rise even with increased awareness, and something more needs to support the amazing men and women who serve our nation and our communities. Saddles in Service is a Veteran-founded non-profit that promotes mental health wellness and a unique opportunity for these heroes to explore their own healing alongside a rescue horse at no cost to them.

My guest today, Tammy Oluvic, is the CEO for Saddles in Service, an equine therapy and horse rescue organization that she founded with her husband Mike, who retired from the United States Navy in 2016. She joins me to discuss how horses and equine-assisted activities help rehabilitate and aid in the mental health wellness and healing of our heroes.

Tammy shares how Saddles in Service helps our heroes who may feel anxious, depressed, angry, or isolated by bringing them together with rescued and rehabilitated horses, allowing them be more present and learn to trust and respect one another through grooming, groundwork, and riding which brings peace, healing, and a sense of purpose to both the heroes and horses.

“What energy we’re putting out or what we’re feeling inside, the horses will mirror, and we can learn a lot about ourselves from the horse. The connection and the relationship between the hero and the horse is truly the most important thing about this program. That trust; it’s a mutual trust, it’s a mutual respect.” – Tammy Oluvic

About Tammy Oluvic:

Tammy and her husband Mike’s dream of Saddles In Service became a reality when Mike retired from the United States Navy in 2016. They purchased an equestrian ranch in Alpine, California. A few months later, Tammy learned about a group of horses that had been rescued from an abusive environment and were in need of forever homes. Two days later, they had their first two rescue horses. Today, they home fifteen amazing horses, each one with a unique story.

Tammy wanted to not only rescue the horses but also give them a new purpose. Her passion for Veterans and their families, paired with her love of horses, created the idea of Saddles In Service. The idea grew to include First Responders, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, EMTs, and their families. These Heroes have a calling to serve their Nation and their local communities. Throughout their service, many of these Heroes encounter unimaginable hardships that can create lifelong physical and mental health challenges. Tammy wanted to create a place where Heroes can begin their journey of health alongside rescue horses. 

In 2017, Tammy and Mike started to put the foundation in motion. Tammy enlisted the help of her good friend, Jill Breen. Together, they created the non-profit organization known as Saddles in Service. Saddles in Service opened to the public in December of 2017. 

Saddles in Service has a mission to combat the suicide rates of Veterans, Active Duty Military, and First Responders, and to promote mental health wellness and healing to these Heroes and their families through equine-assisted learning and activities. Veterans, Active Duty Military, First Responders, and their families that have been diagnosed with or are experiencing symptoms related to post-traumatic stress (PTSD), anxiety, depression, job-related stress, and/or traumatic brain injuries are partnered with a horse through their healing journey. In turn, Saddles in Service helps them to rediscover their joy, hope, confidence, and purpose.

Their core values include Integrity, Respect, Empathy, Love, Compassion, and Learning. The Saddles in Service team embraces all humans and horses that walk through their gate as family, with respect and compassion. They encourage all of their volunteers and heroes to continue learning about themselves, others, and horsemanship. Saddles in Service supports each human and horse in their journey to become the best version of themselves, living a life of purpose and freedom.

Tammy and Mike Oluvic of Saddles in Service in Alpine, CA

“I feel that as we’re healing and helping our heroes connect again, that’s going to help them in their family lives, in their work lives. It’s going to build better communities. It’s a ripple effect.” – Tammy Oluvic

Check out the video below to watch our interview:

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