Tall in the Saddle

Midland County 4-H Exceptional Riders Program

The Midland County 4-H Exceptional Riders Program, Tall in the Saddle (TIS), is a 4-H Proud Equestrian Program.  It is one of about 46 county programs in Michigan.  It was started in the Spring of 1976 through the interest of local volunteers and parents. The initial purchase of equipment was made with donated funds. The program was then, and continues to be, entirely supported and run by volunteers.

Horseback riding, following lesson plans and direction from a trained instructor, builds concentration, muscle control, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Horseback riding is a therapeutic form of recreation for people with mental, emotional, learning, hearing, visual and physical impairments.

We offer weekly classes during Spring and Fall Sessions at local privately owned farms.  Privately owned horses, tested by instructors prior to use in the program, provide the mounts for our riders.

Our instructors receive their certification from the Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center in Augusta, MI, and Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl). In addition, they maintain 4-H Proud Equestrian Program (PEP) certification to teach in Michigan by attending a mandatory bi-annual Instructor Update sponsored by MSU Extension.


Fall 2021!!


Wednesdays at 6 and 7 pm 

Session 1: 8/25/21 – 9/22/21

Session 2: 9/29/21 – 10/27/21

New Volunteer Training:

Wednesday 8/11/21 @ 6 pm



Riders are taught to ride, not taken for a ride. They benefit by developing concentration, balance, posture, coordination, and self-esteem.


Join in and you’ll be rewarded with smiles and thank yous!  You’ll see how much riders gain from the program.

Support Tall in the Saddle

The program is entirely funded through donations from individuals, organizations and businesses.  Check our wish list too!

Mother's Quote

“The impact of Tall in the Saddle on our son has been immeasurable.  Over the past ten years of involvement he has learned confidence, assertiveness, and pride in his abilities. There are very few activities that are designed primarily for teens and young adults with special needs; we know because we searched for them.  TIS has been a staple in our son’s life.  Kay has been an incredible teacher, combining compassion and expertise that is conveyed to the riders in an appropriate, creative, and understandable way.  Betsy and her group of volunteers work tirelessly to offer a superb program at virtually no cost to families.  It is an AMAZING blessing to parents who are often incurring extra medical and care costs to help support their special needs children.  It is a time when their kids feel cared for and special.  The work involved in transporting horses, preparing lessons, recruiting volunteers, and raising funds is mind boggling to me.

What is the fruit of this labor?  These kids experience a sense of pride and normalcy that shows on their faces when they ride.  It is an indescribable thing for me to watch the expression of pride and accomplishment on the face of my son.  On a daily basis, he struggles to do things that others his age can do without much effort, but when he is riding, he is doing something very unique that many of his peers can’t do…and he knows it.”

Proud Parent

Special Thanks

All of our equestrian volunteers, participating families and their “exceptional rider” kids would like to extend our warm appreciation to the following organizations for their generous donations and ongoing support.

  • Midland Kiwanis
  • Kiwassi Kiwanis
  • Knights of Columbus #4121
  • Horse Tales 4-H Youth Group
  • Midland Civitan Club
  • Tri-County Horse Association
  • The Ladies of Blessed Sacrament
  • Thelen Inc
  • Servinski Sod Services Inc.
  • Plastic Surgery Institute of Mid-Michigan PC
  • Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Kiwassee Kiwansis Junior Youth Committee
  • Valley Electrical Contractors, Inc.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to our program, please see Support Tall In The Saddle.

The Tall in the Saddle program lost one of their favorite retired steeds this recently.  The part Arabian pinto, affectionately  known as Bubba, served the Tall in the Saddle program from 2000 – 2015.  He was bred and owned by  Mrs. Esther Bennett (Greystone Farms Arabians) out of one of her mares, Fabia, who was also used by Tall in the saddle for years. 

Bubba’s gentle spirit, kind eye and easy, floaty gait made him a popular mount for many of our riders over the years.  In 2015, he was adopted by Tamara and Ken Coppens, volunteers with our program.   Since Bubba had developed some leg ailments that prevented him from being ridden anymore, they made sure he had the BEST retirement a horse could ask for:  Regular medical/farrier attention, turn-out with great pals, all the homegrown carrots a horse could ask for, and lots of adventures wandering around the farm.

We believe Bubba is now trotting his beautiful trot, without pain, in a pasture we can only feel in our hearts.  

Feel free to post any pics you may have of this once-in-a-lifetime Tall in the Saddle steed on our Facebook.  He will be remembered as one of the great ones.