The Little Hooves and Big Hearts/SaddleBrooke Connection

Sue Robisch

Little Hooves and Big Hearts is a charitable organization serving special-needs children, and seniors, in the greater Tucson area as well as Pinal County. It is unique in that it offers equine-assisted therapy using miniature horses. LHBH was introduced to SaddleBrooke five years ago. Since that time the organization has grown and expanded its services. In its earlier days LHBH served mostly seniors residing in nursing homes. While they are still an important part of our program, we have recognized the large population of special-needs children in the area who can benefit from our specially-trained minis and our instructors certified in equine-guided education.

LHBH serves these children at our facility in Oracle, AZ. Many receive one-on-one therapy while other children come as a small group from their school. When LHBH was first introduced to SaddleBrooke ten children were receiving one-on-one therapy. Four of those children were grandchildren of SaddleBrooke residents. Currently 22 children receive one-on-one therapy on a regular basis. We are very excited about this growth. All sessions are provided at no charge.

In addition to the one-on-one sessions, LHBH is working with five Tucson-area schools. This outreach began just two years ago. These schools have programs for children with disabilities and these children come to our facility as a small group. A total of 94 children are presently receiving equine-therapy and at no charge to their parents or to their school.

While our organization has grown our partnership with SaddleBrooke residents and SaddleBrooke clubs/organizations has grown as well. LHBH has been the recipient of grant money from SaddleBag Notes, SaddleBrooke Rotary Club and the Putters. Also, we are blessed with volunteers. Currently three residents, Marilyn Skoneczka, Lou Robisch and Sue Robisch, volunteer their time in various capacities at the Oracle facility and in the nursing homes and at special events when our miniature horses are present.

Marilyn came to us after reading an article about LHBH in the SaddleBrooke newspapers. Having been a teacher of special-needs children, she was immediately interested. The fact that she grew up on a farm and loved animals helped. Marilyn is an all-around volunteer helping out when the school groups come for therapy, and traveling to nursing homes with the team.

Sue is a member of the Advisory Board as well as being an all-around volunteer.

She came to Little Hooves and Big Hearts because she was searching for a charitable organization and as a horse lover was attracted to this specific charity. Once she met with Tammy Mockbee, executive director, and her staff, she was hooked. She was excited about becoming a part of an organization doing such worthwhile work.

Sue’s husband, Lou, attended the group’s annual Christmas party and was so impressed with the team and the culture they have created that he asked how he could help. He was given the job of Director of Outreach talking with community leaders and healthcare professionals making them aware of how equine-guided therapy can change lives.

There is always a place for volunteers at Little Hooves and Big Hearts. Our volunteers come to us traveling different paths but they all find enjoyment and a purpose fulfilled. Witnessing how a child’s life is enriched by the relationship he/she finds with the gentle and sensitive animals that are our minis tells them that their lives are enriched as well.

Little Hooves and Big Hearts is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. If you would like to have more information about becoming a volunteer at LHBH please call our Oracle office at 520-896-2820. Or if you are not sure you have the time to volunteer but would like to be involved in some way, consider being a sponsor. Also, visit our website at