Home » News » Moonlit Meadows provides outlet for veterans, first responders, kids through classes, programs

Moonlit Meadows provides outlet for veterans, first responders, kids through classes, programs

By Kat Halfman
Staff Intern

BROWN COUNTY – Mandi Mincheski, owner of Moonlit Meadows Performance Horses, LLC in Denmark, said there’s something special about equine therapy.

“You have to be in the moment when you’re with horses,” she said. “They don’t care what happened yesterday, and they don’t care how busy you are tomorrow. Everything has to be in the moment.”

Mincheski said her passion for horses is lifelong, but only recently did she discover how helpful horses can be to veterans and service members.

In 2012, Moonlit Meadows partnered with Horses4Heroes to provide free/low-cost horse-related services to active-duty service members, veterans, caregivers, first responders and their families.

“There’s some (veterans) that would tell you without a doubt, they come here to decompress,” she said. “They need to be in the moment and bypass what’s going on, especially when there’s a new conflict.”

Mincheski said Horses4Heroes’ four core values are responsibility, independence, discipline and empathy.
“Those (values) go hand-in-hand with horses, and animals in general,” she said.

For some veterans, Mincheski said, life after they’ve returned home from service can be challenging.

“We have one specific veteran who’s retired – he’s too old to go back to combat, but he wishes that he could and he feels guilty that there’s nothing he can do,” she said. “So, he comes here to get comfortable and focus on something else for a while.”

Mincheski said the program is also open to other “heroes,” as well, including nurses, special education teachers, victims of domestic abuse and violence, at-risk teens and youth and recovering addicts – through a $25 family membership.

She said the program is open to all ages, riding levels and disciplines, and aims to promote healthy living while strengthening the community.

Mincheski said several years ago, she also trained the Green Bay Police Department mounted patrols.

“We have police officers that come out on a pretty regular basis, so we get them and their kids involved, and sometimes it’s a situation where they come out to decompress – they literally just need country time,” she said. “And sometimes they want a riding lesson, so it works out with whatever they need.”

Moonlit Meadows
Opening in 1999, Moonlit Meadows offers solo and group lessons, horse boarding, clinics, open arenas and obstacle challenges.

Moonlit Meadows is currently home to a total of 30 horses, as well as six foals, some as young as three weeks.

Mincheski said Moonlit Meadows currently has a total of 30 horses – along with six foals, some as young as three weeks.

She said many of the horses on site are being boarded by their owners, who in turn volunteer to help teach lessons, as well as maintain the animals and the property – all pitching in to keep things running smoothly.

Mincheski said Dr. Tracey Gilbert, who has worked as a veterinarian at the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park for nearly 30 years, volunteers some of her time to provide veterinary care to the horses at the facility.

In addition, Mincheski said Moonlit Meadows also offers a weekly yoga class on the property, where the many barn cats are likely to wander up and give participants a loving nuzzle while stretching and taking in the view.

She said certified yoga instructor and equine massage therapist Jaime Ehmer leads the classes, which include pre-ride warmups for people and horses alike.

Continuing to be involved
Despite being the owner of the facility, Mincheski said she still finds time to teach riders of all ages.

“As a young girl, I was horse-crazy,” she said. “I had my own horses, and I still would go to the local stable and hang out there, clean stalls and horses and exercise. I would do anything that I could, just to get more horse time. So, if there are kids that show me that interest, I am happy to work with them.”

Mincheski said her teaching philosophy centers around forming a bond with the horse and learning to read their body language before ever saddling up.

“As far as our lesson program, it is from the ground up,” she said. “Safety is number one – they’re taught how to approach the horse, they’re taught how to put the halter on the horse. I’m talking about all of the tack and equipment that goes with the horses. There’s no showing up for a lesson with the horse already tacked and then you get on and ride – that’s not how our lesson program works.”

Part of the overall lesson also includes teaching students how to carefully and thoroughly groom the horses.

“They know they have to get that horse clean,” Mincheski said. “I always tell them to just envision I sprinkled the whole horse with baby powder. You have to get all the powder off. They have to get them good and clean. They have to scratch any itchy spots and find any injuries or other issues that the horse might have each day. In addition to grooming, it’s good for the circulatory system for the skin and to get the juices flowing. So grooming is a really important part of our lesson program.”

She said students are also taught how to approach and handle a horse – which includes placing one hand on the horse while grooming them with the other.

“That way the horse always knows where you are in relation to them,” Mincheski said. “They know what to expect.”

As part of the lessons at Moonlit Meadows, students learn how to carefully and thoroughly groom the horses.

She said students also learn how to lead the horses safely and properly.

“They learn how to stand and contain their horse safely and properly,” she said. ”And then how to tack up their own horse, all before they’re allowed to ride.”

More information on Moonlit Meadows, its involvement with Horses4Heroes, as well as the many other programs offered can be found on its Facebook site.

Facebook Comments
Scroll to Top