‘It’s a safe zone’: Area veterans bond with horses through ‘Horses 4 Heroes’

Local News

DENMARK, Wis. (WFRV) — Sunday afternoon at Moonlit Meadows Performance Horses, several participants in the ‘Horses 4 Heroes’ program bonded with their horses.

“Horses are non-judgmental,” Veteran Blake Steuber told Local 5. “It’s a safe zone, so you can tell them everything that’s going on.”

Steuber served her country in the Army’s 90th Transportation Company in the Gulf War.

Now, the horses at Moonlit Meadows are helping her.

“I learned a lot about myself,” she explained. “I gained a lot of confidence, it’s a really great program.”

The program is called ‘Horses 4 Heroes.’

Moonlit Meadows owner Mandi Mincheski told Local 5 that the horses can help ground veterans facing struggles following their service.

“Typically time with horses and other outdoor activities and other animals offer a ‘stay in the moment’ kind of out and relaxation and escape from troubles,” she said.

The Horses 4 Heroes program was established in Las Vegas in 2006.

It’s been offered to veterans in Wisconsin at Moonlit Meadows since 2012.

“I’ve always had horses,” Mincheski said. “I’ve always trained horses. I’ve always given lessons. I see the benefits that horses allow people, and while I don’t come from a military family, I have a lot of military friends, and I just, I have something that I can share with others.”

Horses 4 Heroes is supported by sponsors in the community.

It’s free to veterans and their families, like Timothy Brewer.

“If I come out here and my anxiety was going through the roof, I’d have trouble moving the horses,” he said. “They would sense it.”

Brewer says working with the horses has helped him manage his anxiety.

“Over there,” he said of his service, “We go through streets, people throwing stuff at us. Like okay, I’m not worried, I’ve got my gear, I’ve got my team. You come back here, you’re alone.”

Through Horses 4 Heroes, he’s been able to connect with horses and other veterans.

“The friendship builds,” he said. “The trust builds. Same thing with the horses. The horse trusts you to take care of it, and I want the horse to trust me, to know that I will do everything I can to take care of it.”


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