Tag Archive for: Spring 2020

I bet Sadie never thought she’d be a working dog with a somewhat local-celebrity status in Sheboygan. But here she is by my side at The Rickety Wagon every day and now in this article!

Why did I decide to adopt Sadie?

After staying in a hostel in Colombia that had Chihuahuas living on-site, I decided it was time to get a dog of my own. In the past, I was accustomed to having big dogs, so this time I decided to get a smaller Chihuahua-type dog. Where from you ask? At the time, my sister had started fostering at a new rescue out of Fond du Lac county called Sandi Paws Rescue. I decided to peruse their website, and I fell in love with Sadie when I saw her with the one droopy ear. Like all the other dogs from Sandi Paws, she was a rescue from the south. And from what I was told, she is from a hoarding situation in Alabama.

In March of 2015, I met her at a PetSmart adoption event and took her home! This March marks our 5-year-adoptaversary and her 7th birthday. She has been an amazing dog from the beginning and luckily came into my life without any major behavioral problems. Her papers list her as a Chihuahua Mix, but her vet suggested she is part Italian Greyhound, which was a breed I never heard of before. I was happy to see a feature on that breed recently in “FETCH Magazine.” Her temperament reflects both breeds: Her ability to outrun every dog at the dog park reflects the Greyhound, and her disinterest in playing with the other dogs most of the time reflects the Chihuahua in her. When I first adopted her, I noticed she was pretty fearful of all men. Now, after several years, this has improved. For a long time, she would hardly take a treat from my dad. This was strange and surprising to see given her extreme food obsession. Now she jumps on his lap when she sees him. She has learned to trust a few other men, too, but still prefers women and children. When I started my business this past year, it occurred to me that it was possible to take her to work with me. So I tried it out a few times, and she does great. She now comes with me almost every day. She greets everyone that comes in the store (unless its nap time), and it brings such a smile to people’s faces. Sometimes people forget they are there to shop! A few regulars come with treats. She’s especially good with kids (which was a work requirement for her), so a number of kids ask their parents to stop at the “dog” store.

Her presence has become such a conversation starter and makes this place feel so much friendlier! Plus, I love that I get to spend all day with her, and she doesn’t have to be home for such long stretches. So as a thank you to Sandi Paws Rescue for bringing this girl into my life, I will be donating 5 percent of sales from the month of March. Happy shopping!

Article Courtesy of Lisa Stewart

Helping Spines of All Kinds

Dr. Morgan moved to Wisconsin and started her business in June 2018. She has been happily helping four-legged patients and their two-legged humans ever since. Her passion for chiropractic grew alongside her journey an obtaining her Doctorate of Chiropractic from Sherman College of Chiropractic in South Carolina, then onto Texas for postgraduate training. Today, McCaskill services “spines of all kinds,” as she likes to say and works in and around the Kiel area.

Describe Your Patients?
The majority of the patients I see are horses, dogs and humans. However, I see many other animal species for chiropractic care such as cats and cows. It is my opinion that anything with a spine can benefit from chiropractic care. My post graduate education in animal chiropractic mostly focused on horses and dogs, but I was given the tools to be able to study any animal’s spine to be able to provide them with care.

Some of my favorite patients to care for are horse and rider teams. Both see the benefit of chiropractic for their athletic performance and in their day to day lives. I cannot tell you how many times growing up riding horses that I heard “your horse is your mirror image.” When I started working with horse and rider pairs and seeing the same compensation patterns, it gave this phrase a whole new meaning to me. Horses are truly amazing in the way they adapt to our shortcomings as riders so that they can still perform their jobs, and rarely do they complain about it until it becomes a major issue. There are many riders that are now under my care for chiropractic because they would see improvement for the first few rides following adjustment, but then their horse would revert back to the same issue (such as not being able to pick up the correct lead, being grumpy when getting tacked up, head tossing, etc.). When I asked the rider the last time they had chiropractic care, they would often answer never. I will almost always find a pelvic imbalance, which can lead to uneven leg length and an unbalanced rider. After an adjustment to restore balance in the rider as well as the horse, those chiropractic adjustments start holding better and longer.

Is horse chiropractic different?
The basics of chiropractic care for horses is the same as for humans or smaller pets. The ultimate goal of chiropractic is to remove restrictions and misalignments found in the spine. Both human and animal spines house our nervous system, which consists of our brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves that branch from the spinal cord and supply the rest of the body. If there are misalignments in our spine, it results in pressure on the nervous system and a breakdown of communication in the body. We call these subluxations. Depending on where there is a dysfunction in communication, you can see different manifestations. Some common ones are fatigue, muscle weakness, decreased motion and pain. Chiropractic care addresses subluxations by using a gentle adjustment to restore the body’s ability to function optimally, communicate and heal from within.

A typical equine chiropractic appointment with me starts with an analysis of posture and gait, which tells me a lot about how the horse is functioning. Following this, I perform an assessment of the nervous system by checking certain reflexes. Then I go through every joint, checking motion and muscle tone of the surrounding tissue. Using all of this information, I know when and where to apply a chiropractic adjustment. I think it is very important to educate the owner as I adjust and show them the differences before and after an adjustment. Horses are big animals (I have some that I cannot even see over their withers without my adjusting bale!), so a typical appointment lasts 45 minutes to 1 hour. Canine chiropractic appointments have a similar flow, but they typically last about 30 minutes.

What are the benefits?
There are many wonderful benefits of chiropractic care!
Increases joint range of motion • Increases energy • Reduces inflammation
Increases circulation • Relaxes tight muscles • Reduces pain
Stimulates the nervous system, which can improve organ function
Reduces adhesions in joints

How long is recovery from an injury?
Healing is a process and varies from case to case. The same injury in one horse may take a month to recover, whereas it can take another 3 months for another. That recovery time depends a lot on the commitment and diligence of the owner to keep up with chiropractic care, at-home exercises and if we are doing other treatments in conjunction with chiropractic.

One of my patients is a 21-year-old Arabian cross Cob gelding named Monty. Monty was referred for a chiropractic evaluation by his primary veterinarian due to deficits in the function of his nervous system. Specifically, Monty was having trouble walking and did not seem to know where his feet were. His veterinarian thought he may have another underlying neurologic issue but suggested that chiropractic may help him heal and could be started while they waited for test results. At his first visit, Monty was very unstable, could barely walk and looked as though his legs were about to give out from under his body. When I performed testing on his nervous system, most of the reflexes were not present, and the ones that Monty had were not normal. I only adjusted his neck and pelvis at the first visit and let his body adapt to those changes. By his second visit one week later, the test results had come back from the vet, showing no signs of an underlying condition, so we decided the best course of action was chiropractic. Monty had his spine checked for subluxations once a week for 6 weeks. Each week we saw improvement in his posture, gait and reflexes.

The improvement was slow at first, but as time went on, we began to see more improvement at each visit. At his week 6 appointment, I saw enough improvement in Monty’s ability to hold his adjustments that we extended appointments. His gait had improved on the straightaways, though he still had difficulty with tight turns, and his reflexes were all present and normal. Monty was even doing some short trot bursts out in pasture, though his trotting was by no means a normal gait. Just before his appointment with me on week 8, Monty’s vet came back out for a check-up, and had trouble catching him because he was running around out in the pasture! Monty has stayed under chiropractic care for maintenance care. Time between appointments has increased as he has been able to hold his adjustments better—now I am seeing him every other month. His owner has also been diligent about incorporating exercises into his daily routine to help his body heal and hold adjustments. Now Monty is out in pasture playing with his pasture mate, a mini donkey named Poncho, and you would never know that 6 months ago he could hardly walk.

To find out more about chiropractic care, check out BackCountry Animal Chiropractic’s website backcountryanimalchiropractic.com or follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

And in a Flash…It Just Happened

Owner and founder of Copper Arrow Photography, Aubray Vande Corput has been smitten by horses since she was a little girl. She knew that becoming a veterinarian was not her calling but also needed to find a niche in the world of horses. In 2018, she choose to combine her love of photography with her love of horses. “Something just clicked. I immediately loved it. I could foresee this being my business, and something that I would be proud to build on and grow,” says Corput.

Why Horses?
It all started at a fair. You know those pony rides where the children can ride the miniature horses? My parents made the mistake of letting me ride the pony. It also didn’t help that my cousin was taking riding lessons and that the barn was less than a mile from my house. So it began. I was 5 years old when I started taking riding lessons. I remember wanting to learn how to ride, and my trainer would take the whole lesson to teach me the parts on a saddle, or how to tack a horse up, or simply feeding, grooming and caring for horses. As a child, I was so impatient because all I wanted to do was get on the back of the horse and ride. But it taught me what owning a horse really entailed. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop me from wanting my own horse.

When I was 9, that dream became a reality. I was the proud owner of a very large, very young, paint gelding named Flash. Sadly, he tried to buck me off every chance he had. I learned how to have a good seat, so I am grateful for his ability to teach me that! He found a perfect new owner who was more experienced than I was, and that led me to my “heart horse” as the horse world calls it. She was a short, chestnut mare with an attitude. But I loved that mare with every bit of my heart. After 7 wonderful years, old age got the best of her, and I lost my best friend. My heart was broken. I had a few snapshots that my mom had taken and a couple from our shows together. But after she was gone, I didn’t have much left of our memories together. I saved her halter, I still have it to this day, along with her stall plaque. But, as technology changed and grew, the digital photos I had of her were lost. Once I started high school, I took up photography and I loved it. (Turns out my great-grandpa was also a photographer. I didn’t learn that until later in life.) But photography was set aside when I graduated. At the time, I never thought it was an option for me. But the second time around, it took off, and I don’t plan on putting it down anytime soon.

Horses Only? What Makes Photographing Horses Unique?
No. I also specialize in high school senior portraits. High school seniors seem to go hand in hand with their horses. They are such big parts of our lives and how we are shaped over the years. They really define us. If you meet a true horse girl, you will know almost immediately how much she loves horses. To include horses in your senior pictures helps tell the story of who you are as a person, and it helps tell this chapter in your life.

Photographing horses is unique because you have to know horses. You have to know what is flattering on a horse and what isn’t. You have to look for certain expressions; They can be so minor, but an owner is going to be able to pick out how their horse was feeling in that exact moment. Beyond knowing what to look for, you need to be able to safely work with the horse to achieve the right expressions and poses. You have to make sure the horse isn’t getting stressed out. Working with horses for over 20 years has given me the insight and experience to accomplish successful photoshoots.

Do You Travel?
I am always up for travel! I am based in Green Bay, Wis., but I will travel anywhere. I will be in Florida this March photographing many hunter/jumpers down in Wellington. I also have plans to be in Texas this summer to photograph reiners and cow horses. In late summer, I will be in Pennsylvania for some lovely East Coast portrait sessions.

What is the best shoot you’ve done?
Oh, this is a tough one. I can’t pick a best ONE. I have things I love about each and every session. There are aspects of every session that make it wonderful. I try to take the positives from every session and remember why I loved that aspect of it, and what made it so wonderful and so forth. That can range from the client’s story, or maybe it was a beautiful backdrop, or maybe it was just the laughter shared.

I can’t say I have had a “worst” session. I don’t know that I can say I have had even a “bad” session. If ever there is a negative aspect from a session, I analyze why that was. I try to learn from it to prevent it from happening again or to help me handle tough situations. I strive to give each and every client a fairytale session with the best experience possible.

Anything else you would like to add? People can view my website at copperarrowphotography.com or visit me on Facebook and Instagram.


Whether you have a child with behavior problems, a teenager with depression or anxiety, or a family member with physical health issues, equine therapy or hippotherapy can benefit anyone suffering physical, mental or emotional ailments.

The earliest known mention of equine therapy can be traced back to roughly 400 B.C. and was discovered in ancient writings from Greek physician Hippocrates.

It wasn’t until 1952 when Liz Hartel from Denmark won a silver medal in Grand Prix dressage at the Helsinki Olympic Games that it entered the limelight. Hartel found that using horses was a great way to strengthen her lower body, especially after she had developed some paralysis in her legs caused by polio. Hartel’s success woke up the medical and equine communities in Europe, and therapeutic riding programs began emerging.

Talk then traveled from Europe to the U.S. and Canada, giving like-minded individuals the initiative to start therapeutic riding centers in North America. In 1969, the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) was started and eventually became known as PATH International, which includes dozens of different equine-assisted activities that benefit people with special needs.

This brilliant and organic therapy can now be found locally in most areas and has helped shape the worlds of many. According to PATH International’s 2017 Fact Sheet, autism spectrum disorder is the number one most served population under the special needs umbrella. And ages 6 to 18 seem to be the majority of the participants in equine therapy. Take a look at some of the local ones here in Wisconsin.


Just 45 minutes north of Madison, Wis., a non-profit organization called Baraboo River Equine-Assisted Therapies, Inc., also known as B.R.E.A.THE, Inc., offers equine-assisted activities and therapy or EAAT for people ages 4 and up who have special needs.

B.R.E.A.THE was started in 2016 by Chris Singer and her husband when they came back to their Midwest roots after living on their southern California horse ranch. “We had five horses when we came here,” Chris explained, “and were looking for a way to give back to the community and benefit people—more than just us.”

Riders of a wide variety of physical and other disabilities can participate in learning horsemanship, both inside and outside of the barn, and get great exercise. “We have a lot of riders with autism, physical disabilities and learning disabilities, PTSD, spina bifida, Down syndrome.” Riders do not control the horse but rather helpers on the ground do. For the most part, there isn’t any kind of special equipment needed in sessions. “It depends on the rider, of course. We’ll use a traditional saddle or bareback pad, and if they’re really unable to support themselves, they have a side walker that walks on each side of them. Ninety nine percent of our riders can sit themselves.”

While participants might be excluded from sports at school because of physical or cognitive limitations, they can enjoy the inclusion that EAAT offers. “You’re not going to find them playing soccer, but we can put them on a horse and teach them how to control a 1200-lb animal, and they’re learning something and building core strength and confidence. That’s the positive reinforcement that sports have that [our riders] are able to participate in.”

Volunteers are an important part of the efforts, and Singer is always looking for people who have weekday and evening availability Monday through Friday. Help with special events and fundraisers is needed, too.

Of course, the lessons cannot happen without the horses. They need to have a special temperament that Singer describes as “pretty bomb-proof.” She explained, “they have a lot of input they’re dealing with during a lesson, so it can be pretty stressful. They have someone on their back who doesn’t really know what they’re doing, and a lot of times they can be off-balance, so the horse is working hard to keep that person on their back.”

Singer currently has six horses, and she needs three more to join the ranch for summer sessions. “To go out on the open market, it can cost $2000 to $10000 to purchase a horse. We are lucky if we get someone to donate their horse.” It’s challenging to find a horse that is of the right temperament, has the ability to do certain things such as trotting, while not having too many cost-prohibitive medical needs.

People are referred to B.R.E.A.THE via school counselors, special education teachers, parents who network with each other and share with other parents, as well as students on field trips at the ranch who go home and tell their parents. Even chiropractors, physical therapists and county health specialists spread the word about the benefits of EAAT at B.R.E.A.THE.

To get involved at B.R.E.A.THE as a rider, a volunteer or to make a donation, visit barabooriverequineassistedtherapies.org or call 608-504-2299.


Three Gaits, named for the three movements of a horse—walk, trot and canter—is a nonprofit organization that provides equine-assisted activities and therapy (EAAT) for people with physical, emotional and intellectual challenges. Located just south of Madison in Stoughton, it began in 1983 under the leadership of Gail Brown and Lorrie Renker with just one horse and eight riders and “a love for horses and an interest in providing equine-assisted activities for individuals with disabilities in Dane County,” describes Mary Ann Roth, interim executive director.

Clients range from age 4 to 70 and may have physical, emotional and intellectual challenges or disabilities including, but not limited to, autism, ADD/ADHD and Down syndrome.

Three Gaits offers therapeutic horseback riding led by instructors who are certified by PATH International. Services include group sessions that are mounted and unmounted education in which riding skills with a therapeutic value are taught. They also offer both occupational therapy and hippotherapy. Roth explains that occupational therapy in this setting “utilizes the movement of the horse as the treatment tool.” Hippotherapy is provided by a licensed occupational therapist and is done in a one-on-one setting. Sessions run three per year in 12-week sessions.

Roth lists the benefits riders receive as a “gain in physical strength, balance, increased self-esteem, following directions, learning a new skill, socialization with classmates, [and] volunteers and staff developing a special bond with their horse.”

Three Gaits enjoys the efforts of approximately 350 volunteers who are involved with office work, care of the horses and fundraising to name just a few. They also are involved with hands-on work in the lessons supporting the riders by walking alongside and leading the horses. Roth shared that “…they come to us with a wide range of skills to offer, and what skills they do not have, we provide training. We are always looking for more volunteers.”

The work of the EAAT provided at the ranch is supported from United Way and grants from foundations. Private donors are a vital source of monetary support, and Three Gaits relies heavily upon them. Fundraising events are also held through yearly events that include several horse shows, a student horse show, a tomato plant sale and a major event taking place in the fall as well as a continuing GoFundMe effort to help with covering the cost of hay, which Roth reports as having “…almost tripled in the last year with unpredictable weather and such a wet growing season.”

The horses in their barn range in terms of breed and Roth describes them as having a calm disposition, gentle, sound, in good health, experienced in a variety of riding disciplines. Often, they will add to their barn by people donating horses. Sometimes, children have a horse while growing up and when they leave for college, they donate the horse to Three Gaits.

People find out about Three Gaits by word of mouth, from doctors and therapists, referring participants as well as state case workers.

To find out more about the EAAT programs, visit 3gaits.org or call 608-877-9086.


Snuggles and kisses, gentle nuzzles and hilarious antics. These are all attributes we love about spending time with our dogs. We’ll include the feline variety in there as well. But what about the quality time spent with horses? If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet, you’re sure missing out.

Located in Franksville, Stepping Stone Farms is one of those special places where you can meet a number of equally special horses. The nonprofit is a therapeutic facility that also rescues or receives donated horses. Lia Sader, founder of Stepping Stone Farms, says that horses have been her passion since she was a young girl. In Lia’s past life, she was a farrier working on horses’ shoes and hooves. But in 2004, her calling changed, and the farm was born.

Saving Those in Need
Stepping Stone Farms, while rescuing horses of any breed, keeps a focus on those who are older. Working with horses also included working with their owners, many of whom had the wrong breed of horse that did not meet their needs, Lia says. Sadly, Lia also met many owners who no longer wanted their horses because they could no longer be ridden or there was another unforseen circumstance.

Most of the horses that come to the farm are leaving bad situations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have been intentionally neglected or did not receive good care. Sometimes, Lia says, the horse’s owner is doing the best he or she can to care for the animal, as can happen with dog rescue. One of the horses Stepping Stone Farms took in came from a situation in which its family just could not afford the food, and the horse was extremely malnourished. But this is where the beauty of rescue steps in to help the horses continue along their journey.

“The horses need to live their lives, have a job and do something,” Lia says. Just because a horse may be older or have a foot condition does not mean their life is over. This just means they’re ready to move on to that next chapter.

One rather particular fellow is 40-year-old Pony who Lia describes as a grumpy old man—but not all the time. He’ll keep to himself but knows how to be a friend, too. One visitor to the farm, a young girl, had poor social skills and had a hard time making friends. That is, until Pony followed the little girl around the show ring. “He taught her how to be a friend,” Lia marvels. This goes to show that age is nothing but a number!

A Therapeutic Mission
Saving animals, both large and small, may warm the hearts of some of us. Those same animals can also provide therapeutic benefits. Stepping Stone Farms offers therapeutic riding but also programming for children and adults who have mental health issues. Equine-assisted coaching is one way in which the horses are used for therapy.

Lia is a huge proponent of Eagala certification, in which an equine specialist and a mental health clinician work as a team along with a client and a horse. The Eagala model is ground-based with no riding involved. This allows children and adults of all abilities to take part in the therapy. The group works inside an arena, and the horse and client can interact as they wish, which creates a deep connection and gives the client space for reflection.

Clients at Stepping Stone Farms will currently work alongside Lia and a chosen horse (she has an opening for a therapist!) to build self-efficacy, self-confidence, self-acceptance and self-discovery. While working with these giant, gentle beings, clients also build skills in communication, trust, assertiveness, healthy boundaries and impulse moderation. Equine therapy also helps in the reduction of anxiety and isolation.

Having experienced the benefits of equine therapy herself, Lia wants to share the same benefits with others. When Lia was 17, her mom passed away. Lia used to suffer from depression, and it was time spent with animals—horses in particular—that helped her heal.

Why Horses?
Horses may be large and powerful, but their size can help us take pause and reflect on times when we feel overwhelmed with large obstacles looming ahead of us. Plus, they are intelligent and especially sensitive to their environment. That includes reading our body language which they interpret and respond to accordingly. And, just like our beloved dogs, horses have their own personalities, moods and attitudes, too (remember Pony?).

Why not stop and check out Stepping Stone Farms yourself? During the last weekend of April, make sure to visit the farm’s free fundraising event “A Day of Horse Play.” The event is held rain or shine and will offer a good time whether or not you bring the kids!

Call (414) 379-2314 or visit steppingstonefarms.com for more info.


Development of the MKE Urban Stables is well underway and will be completed sometime this spring. Located at 143 East Lincoln Avenue, the stables will be first and foremost a dual program to benefit Milwaukee youth and Veterans, while allowing the community to intermingle with police officers in a positive manner according to Kent Lovern, chief deputy district attorney of Milwaukee County.

Lovern is the board president for the stables and is excited to see the transformation that may come from officers and youths viewing the world through each other’s eyes. Ideally, these stables will help break down barriers between the two (often opposing) cultures and create a dialog in which both see the humanity in each other. He notes that youths will also be able to learn from the Veterans in the same capacity.

Ed Krishok, the vice president and treasurer of this project, says the facility, which will be a home for the MPD Mounted Patrol’s horses, will be ready sometime later this year for equine-assisted therapy, but a date has not yet been confirmed.

The MPD is partnering with the VA and Hamilton High School to make this therapeutic program possible according to Lovern. Hamilton High School is the largest Milwaukee public school with the largest number of special needs students. So students would benefit from a local facility geared towards helping them. And currently veterans have to travel to use a facility in Illinois for therapy.

Krishok would like to mention how grateful the stables are for its community partners who are responsible for bringing this “one-of-a-kind equine center and community gathering place to life.”


• Provide Equine Programs & Experiences That Keep Youth & Veterans Coming To MKE Urban Stables

• Improve Police and Community Relations by Helping to Build and Support a Human Connection Between Both

• Build a Culture & Appreciation of Service

• Establish MKE Urban Stables as a Multi-Cultural Gathering Place Reflective of Our City


REINS Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies began in 1982 by a group of students from Lakeshore Technical Institute in Sheboygan, Wis. The acronym REINS stands for Riders (Participants) being Encouraged, Inspired, Nurtured and above all Successful. At first this organization was created to provide recreation and exercise to those with special needs. In 2013-14 it began to evolve into the program that many are familiar with today: A non-profit organization with two forms of equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) known to improve the lives of those with special needs through interactions with horses.

“We are accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International and our instructors are certified in therapeutic riding instruction and/or equine specialists in mental health and learning,” says Theresa Zimmermann, executive director. “This level of expertise allows us to offer a range of equine-assisted activities and therapies to our clients.”

Therapeutic Riding & Equine-Assisted Learning
The therapeutic riding program is open to ages 4 and older. It focuses on the main skills associated with learning how to ride while making educational modifications and accommodations to riders with disabilities. Instructors modify classes as needed to help participants reach their physical, cognitive, social and emotional goals.

In comparison, assisted learning services help clients develop critical life skills such as trust, leadership, assertiveness, communication, self-confidence and self-awareness according to PATH. This particular program was originally designed for middle school and high school-aged children with noted behavioral problems. However, REINS offers this to younger children as well. The program is called “Learning to Lead,” and includes a mounted and unmounted version.

How Equine Therapy Differs
Zimmermann explains that the key difference in this type of therapy is based on the enjoyable and motivational environment available to the client. It allows the instructor to target certain skills that may be harder to address through traditional therapies and/or interventions.

Disabilities They Serve
Down Syndrome
Cerebral Palsy
Spina Bifida
Spinal Cord Injuries
Speech Disorders
Genetic Conditions
Developmental Delays
Cardiac Conditions
And Many More!

When & Where
REINS is currently working on expanding the seasons they can offer therapy. As of this spring, they are building an outdoor riding facility that will be named “Freedom Ring.” During an outdoor riding experience, a participant named Caleb told his mom he felt free, thus influencing the naming of this outdoor arena.

REINS is always looking for volunteers (12 or older) and donations. Please visit reins-wi.org for more information. Scholarships are available for those unable to afford tuition.

“Without the support of the communities in which we serve, we simply could not do what we do,” says Zimmermann.

Contact Theresa Zimmermann at
920-946-8599 for more information.

Donations can be mailed to:
P.O. Box 68, Sheboygan Falls, WI 53085.

2020 SEASON:
June 15 – Aug. 28
(No classes week of July 20)


Nestled on a beautiful 17-acre horse ranch, and hiding amongst a quaint residential town is Heaven’s Gait Ranch Inc. This “hidden gem,” as patrons like to call it, began with the humility of one woman’s desire to help others. It then continued to grow throughout the years because many people joined together to make her dream a reality.

With her faith in God, her love of horses and her respect for U.S. military veterans, Elaine McClaren wanted to make a difference in the lives of those around her by creating a therapeutic riding center for individuals with physical, social, emotional and psychological needs. In the mid-2000s, she went in search of the perfect piece of land—finding one right in the heart of the Cedar Grove community. However, despite her high hopes at the time, she was diagnosed with cancer, and unfortunately never lived to see her dream come true.

In 2016, Elaine’s family and friends choose to carry on her torch. This group of caring entrepreneurs included: Brian McClaren (Elaine’s son), Margaret Mary McClaren (Brian’s wife and executive director of Heaven’s Gait) and Mark Zirngibl (Margaret Mary’s father). They decided to keep her vision alive by incorporating Heaven’s Gait as a non-profit, therapeutic riding center that serves individuals with special needs and veterans with disabilities.

So in order to build this compassionate community, it took a village of people to recognize the need and challenge the adversity against it. Margaret Mary confirms that it was “a Godsend of people with good hearts and quality values coming together that created Heaven’s Gait Ranch and its mission.”

With the help of family, friends, neighbors, previous employers, educators, mentors from around the country and even overseas, Heaven’s Gait officially opened its gates for lessons in 2017.

“Countless people took a chance on us, and their faith encouraged us to keep going despite various obstacles along the way,” says Margaret Mary.

“For all of these reasons, I am proud to say Heaven’s Gait Ranch was founded under the guidance of our Christian values, built with the support of generous donors and blessed with the time and talent of many volunteers.”

Unless you have been to this ranch before, as a new patron you will need to keep your eyes open to see the sign quaintly positioned off Main Street downtown. Then while driving down to the barn, you will notice horses hanging out in the outdoor pasture grazing and patiently awaiting their next riding adventure. Currently, there are eight gentle giants (therapy horses), an indoor/outdoor arena, trails, heated stables and a sensory learning space located inside the barn where people enjoy hanging out.

Equine Therapy is Vital
Margaret Mary explains, “For some of our participants with special needs, riding is the only activity they do, so it’s crucial for them (and their families) that they keep coming to remain mentally sharp, socially engaged and physically active.”

But this is not the only significant reason behind their ongoing programs. “For some of our Veterans with anxiety or post-traumatic stress, November through March can be particularly painful; holidays can be difficult, and it’s depressingly dark for anyone that time of year, let alone for someone who may not work because they remain at home on disability. Heaven’s Gait Ranch becomes so much more than just a fun place to ride; it’s a home and a family that cares for your well-being—week after week, season after season, year after year. And our family is committed to you for the long-haul.”

For information on volunteering or registering someone to ride, contact Margaret Mary at 920-400-0628 or [email protected].


Winter 2020 Session: January 13 – March 19

Spring 2020 Session: April 6 – June 4

Summer 2020 Session: June 16 – August 27

Fall 2020 Session: September 14 – December 17