Saddles in Service’s Love For Heroes Gala set for Nov. 4th

by Cheryl Erpelding

Saddles in Service, a San Diego based non-profit which was featured in California Riding Magazine’s January 2022 issue, is putting on what the organizers are aiming to be their biggest fundraiser to date. The Love For Heroes Gala, will be held Friday evening Nov. 4, 2022, at the Viejas Ballroom in Alpine. The event is well on it’s way to achieving its goal with donors and sponsors lining up to make the boots and black tie affair an amazing event not to be missed!

San Diego’s TV celebrity Sean Kelly of Storage Hunters will be on hand to auction off enticing experiences such as a winter wonderland dog-sled ride for two in Montana, with luxury accommodations at the Big Sky Resort including airfare; a dressage lesson with Olympic rider Steffen Peters, his wonderful wife and also top rider Shannon Peters, and another lesson with Elizabeth Johnson, mother to Katie Duerrhammer of this year’s US World Dressage Championship team; 3 mounted shooting lessons with World Champion Mounted Shooter Kenny Lawson; a horse back riding vacation at Aspen Lodge in Alpine, AZ; a foursome at the San Diego Enforcers 2023 golf tournament and golf lessons from golf pro John Klein; and many more exciting packages will be bundled in what promises to be a lively auction following a wonderful evening of fine dining, dancing to the James Kelly band, and fellowship to support Saddles in Service mission to help heal their heroes.

Preacher is being ridden by one of the fireman that will be cooking up the dinner at the firehouse which is up for live auction at the Saddles In Service 2nd Annual Love For Heroes Gala Nov. 4.
Dylan is a beautiful Percheron/TB cross at Saddles in Service. He has helped heal many heroes that Saddles in Service has helped since they began in 2017.

Attendees can purchase a ticket for $150/person for the event, or donors can sponsor a table for $1,500. With a table sponsorship, the donor gets eight seats plus their group will be seated with a hero from the Saddles in Service program and the heroes’s significant other. Table sponsors will be seated with the hero and his or her guest to learn about how impactful the Saddles in Service program has been for that individual and his or her family.

It is one thing to read about these success stories of hero after hero that regains their joy in their lives by being with horses and helping them heal mentally, spiritually and sometimes physically by spending time at the peaceful and soothing environment at the Alpine 10-acre ranch. Those of us that already know and love horses, know how impactful and healing just being with horses can be. Tammy and retired Navy Captain Mike Oluvic started their non-profit in 2017, and they are continuing to grow their foundation and they have helped over 600 heroes (veterans, active duty and first responders) heal from their stressful jobs.

Many of the heroes enjoy interacting with Red in the arena who loves a good romp and role before her session.
Cole is another kind soul that helps many first responders heal by their weekly rides at Saddles in Service.

This year has been their most impactful yet, as the operation has served more heroes than ever before and has expanded its operations to TX and WY. Donna and Sterling Sinema previous volunteer and hero respectively at the San Diego ranch, purchased a 33 acre ranch in Elkhart, TX and are working with heroes in that state. Heroes that become proficient riders have an opportunity to ride with Tom Bercher in Shell, WY, where the heroes ride all day working with cattle in a real life cowboy setting. For the heroes that have gone on this amazing week in WY, they have over and over reported that the experience has been life changing for them.

Saddles in Service is changing lives everyday and invites heroes and volunteers to check out their website to get involved with the foundation that helps so many. To get tickets to the Love for Heroes Gala or learn more about Saddles in Service, visit or contact Cheryl Erpelding directly to get involved –, 858-967-5765.