Trinity Equestrian Center, near Eau Claire, has offered mentoring programs for youth, horse-therapy-based programs for veterans, and leadership programs for organizations for several years now. Their programs seek to heal physical, spiritual, emotional, and cognitive injuries and disabilities, as well as building social skills, communication skills, and problem-solving skills.
One of the center’s main programs is its Veteran Horse Therapy, a wellness program for vets designed around equine-assisted therapy. This program is free to qualified vets and their families. They note on their website (www.trinity-ec.com/index.phtml), “Understanding the strategies for combat survival, as well as what symptoms might be exhibited in postwar veterans upon re-introduction to civilian life, is what makes our program so effective. We’ve seen great results with veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addictions, guilt, grief, anger, panic attacks, sleep disorders, and spiritual injuries.”
As an expansion of their successful program, the center will soon be offering a pilot program in conjunction with the Veterans Administration in Tomah. Recently we asked Toni Mattson, co-owner and director of programs, a few questions about the new program.
A Second Opinion: What are your hopes for the program?
Toni Mattson: Since 2009, we at Trinity Equestrian Center have provided thousands of free therapy hours for hundreds of veterans and their families struggling with PTSD and other service-related injuries. Additionally, for years we have extended an offer to the Tomah Veterans Administration to join in a therapeutic collaboration and provide a pilot program featuring our equine-assisted psychotherapy for some of their clients experiencing PTSD. We are thrilled to share that we have been given the green light to go ahead with the pilot program!
My hope for this relationship is not only to help many, many more veterans, but also to model a desperately needed alliance between government institutions and non-profits that shows collectively we can accomplish far more than what we all individually can do.
ASO: What do you envision for the program?
TM: I envision a multi-month series of weekly, 50-minute, equine-based therapy sessions. I expect it will be a blend of individual and group sessions with four veterans per group. The Tomah VA will determine who participates in the program, and our therapy team will design the format and approach. This level of collaboration and co-creation will be unprecedented in Wisconsin for this type of program.
ASO: Why have you and Trinity Equestrian Center decided to try it?
TM: I’m so confident with the work we do and immensely eager to expand the community of veterans we can and do serve. I also respect and admire organizations like the Tomah VA that look at things a little differently and embrace the concept of being willing do something different in order to get a different result. I love that!
ASO: How can people help support your work with veterans?
TM: You can help support the work the center does with veterans by participating in the 7th Annual Trinity Equestrian Center Horsepower for Veterans motorcycle ride. It will be held on Saturday, June 24, at the center, located at 5300 State Highway 37, southwest of Eau Claire. Besides the bike run to the Highground in Neillsville and back, there will be a continental breakfast, silent auction, veterans stories, an opening ceremony, a raffle, bike show awards, and, after working up quite an appetite with all of that, a BBQ chicken meal. For more information visit trinity-ec.com or call 715-835-4530.