Meet the Saddle Pals Team
UCP’s Saddle Pal and Heroes Astride instructors have been certified through PATH INTl. By working with children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges, our instructors are able to help clients find power, strength and confidence through the action of riding and interacting the the horses.
Meeting our team!
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.
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.