Equestrian center to work with incarcerated veterans

An equestrian center in Eau Claire that serves veterans with free equine assisted therapy is looking to expand their reach beyond its stables.
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 4:55 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -Trinity Equestrian Center has been helping local veterans heal for nearly twenty years.

“Shoulder-to-shoulder, nose-to-nose with them because that’s where the relationship grows, that’s where the trust grows, and for our clients that pivotable, that’s everything,” says Toni Mattson, co-owner of Trinity Equestrian Center in Eau Claire.

Mattson says these helping hooves will soon be breaking ground behind prison walls.

A 12 week pilot program bringing two horses each week on location at Stanley Correctional Institution, to provide therapy for incarcerated veterans.

An idea reigned together by a former Trinity client and newly employed veteran at the prison.

“One in particular a Mr. Brandon drost, had just a really incredible passion to help other veterans,”says Mattson.

With the help of a $25,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs, the program titled ‘The Forgotten Ones’ will begin this May.

“It breaks my heart because when Brandon and I began this whole journey, he said veterans who are incarcerated really feel forgotten,” says Mattson. “That they’ve served their country and yes there are reasons that they’re where they’re at but once they’re incarcerated they’re forgotten about and we just thought that was wrong, so we’re going to do something about it.”

Impacted by dozens of family members and friends who have served, Mattson says this program joins together her two passions.

“The horses take the lead and they’re the ones who do most of the work, we’re kind of coaches and facilitators but they are amazing partners to work with,”says Mattson.

Mattson says their equines therapy services are free and available to anyone who may be having trouble with service experience.

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