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I'm a small town Wisconsin girl with six-decades of loving horses. In fact, my sisters and I blackmailed our father into getting our first horse. Yup, you read that right. It was sort of by accident, but worked all the same.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a storyteller and a kid with a big dream—owning a horse ranch with my sister Jan. ​That wish nearly took a sharp left turn after I accidentally startled our father in an innocent late night encounter.

At nine-years-old, my dad was larger than life to me, but he was chased by the demons of survivor’s guilty and PTSD after serving 20 years in WWII.

One evening, I tip-toed up behind him to give a good-night hug, scarring him to death. Dad spun off his stool, slammed me to the floor, putting me in a choke hold. ​That turned out to be my first of hundreds of encounters with post-traumatic stress disorder. Little did I know, that one explosive night, along with my love and respect for horses paved my purpose in life some thirty years later. 

I first heard that Jesus loved me and wanted a life-long relationship when I was 13-years-old sitting on a hay bale in my best friend’s barn. A decade later I married my best friend Bill, and three years after, gave birth to Alexi Rae, our first child. Six months after, we lost her. 


It was a really tough time in our life, but in the midst of it all, I realized God set me on a journey of transforming my grief into gratitude. And in 2002, Bill (an Air Force veteran) along with our two sons, Ian and Taylor, and my sis, Jan, bought the horse ranch of our childhood dreams. 


We named the ranch - Trinity Equestrian Center to represent our three founders and our faith. Trinity is our home, the heart of our ministry, and where I spent thousands of hours learning the value of a connection, relationship, and trust by one of God’s greatest teachers - the horse.

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I knew horses were more than just a “good ride” and set out to discover how to partner with them to help people. Traveling the country to be certified and advanced trained to serve veterans with PTSD, I launched Trinity’s Veteran Wellness Program in 2009—one of our region’s first. 


Since then, our team has provided thousands of free therapy hours and encounters to hundreds of veterans and their families, and has been recognized as the Midwest leader in Equine Assisted Therapy. And in 2020, I broke all norms by taking my team and horses behind prison walls to work with incarcerated male veterans. 

As I travel the country and beyond, speaking and telling our story, I’m asked countless times why horses, why veterans, and why God? 

I share our devotion to veterans is to honor our father and how he struggled with PTSD. Why horses—because of our deep love and respect for them, and because of the remarkable teammates they are. And why God—because only He can truly transform hearts and minds. Only He can forgive and redeem souls that are often so lost and broken. And only God… can reshape and remake a person into what He needs them to be…what He created them for.


Today, I’m blessed to begin to step back from my normally very full Trinity schedule into the evolution of my life’s purpose while Ian, and his wife Rachael, have begun stepping into my boots—leading, developing, and continuing our legacy of changing lives. 


So if you’re looking for me, most days you’ll find me in my favorite worn-out Levis and flip flops, working on either my next podcast episode, a message for an upcoming speaking gig, another chapter in my book, or connecting with you, my precious herd. No matter which, I’m basking in the blessings and love of God as I encourage and empower women to live the life God created them for while forever sharing the remarkable things that happen when we connect people, horses and God.

Toni's Bio

Toni Mattson's story is one of passion, resilience, and a deep-seated belief in the power of hope. For over 15 years, she has dedicated herself to working with veterans battling PTSD, a journey that has not only shaped her path but also deepened her understanding of the crucial role hope plays in healing and transformation. Her experiences have taught her invaluable lessons about the strength of the human spirit, the healing power of connection, and the transformative impact of faith.

Now, Toni is taking those lessons and channeling them into new ways to reach out and touch lives more broadly. She's the driving force behind Live the Life Podcast, spreading messages of hope and encouragement far and wide. Through her podcast, speaking engagements, and her heartfelt writing, Toni is more determined than ever to ensure that no one feels alone in their struggle.

Her latest work, "Unlikely Recruits: How God Recruits Horses to Heal Veterans," encapsulates her journey and the profound insights she's gained into how hope can emerge from the most unexpected places. This book isn't just a collection of stories; it's a beacon for anyone searching for a light in the darkness, offering proof of how hope can indeed transform lives.

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But Toni's commitment doesn't stop at a book. She's also diving into creating micro-courses and mini e-books, aiming to share the essence of what she's learned about hope, healing, and the remarkable journey towards transformation. Her approach is real, grounded, and utterly relatable, making her insights accessible to all who seek them.

In this season of her life, Toni's mission is clear: to spread hope like wildfire, to reach out to those in need of it most, especially veterans, and to share the message that transformation is possible, no matter where you are in your journey. Her work, her voice, and her spirit are all aligned towards lighting up paths for others, showing that with hope, the journey towards healing and living the life God intended for us is within reach for everyone.

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