Margaret Mary McClaren
Executive Director, Program Coordinator, PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor
From a very young age, Margaret Mary learned the value of giving. Raised by a U.S. army veteran and a special education aide, she saw her parents devote their lives to causes much greater than themselves. As a result, Margaret Mary pursued a career in education after graduating from Marquette University as an Evans Scholar. Over the years, she worked for both private and public schools, teaching students in rural areas while also tutoring young women from inner cities.
Throughout her experience teaching, Margaret Mary was introduced to individuals and families who benefited from equine-assisted activities and therapeutic riding, and because of their positive testimonials, she began volunteering at a nearby PATH Member Center. Margaret Mary immediately fell in love with the program, its horses, and their efforts—so much so that she decided to make a life change and professionally commit to the nonprofit sector.
She says, “It’s amazing how one experience can change the trajectory of your life. Volunteering at a therapeutic riding facility absolutely changed mine.” As an active member of PATH International, she received her Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Fund Development from the University of Notre Dame, while earning her MBA in Leadership & Management from Aurora University. In 2016 she co-founded the nonprofit, therapeutic riding center Heaven’s Gait Ranch, Inc. as a PATH Intl. Member Center. As the Executive Director & Program Coordinator of Heaven’s Gait Ranch, she is also a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Needless to say, HGR has become her home away from home.
PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Certified PATH Intl. Mentor
PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Certified PATH Intl. Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning
With a deep love for children and education, Beth has worked with individuals with special needs for over 20 years. Having grown up with horses, Beth says they are still a big part of her life, and she knows firsthand the benefits of how a horse can heal the spirit of a human being.
While she has a degree in Human Services from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Beth is not only a PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Instructor, but she is also a Certified PATH Intl. Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning. Teaching with the care of the whole person in mind, she instructed at Free S.P.I.R.I.T Riders, Inc., a Premiere Accredited PATH Intl. Center, until it closed in 2018. However, her personal mission to “show God’s love through her actions and inspire others to believe in themselves” continues to be evident in all that she does.
For a number of years, Beth has worked at Cristo Rey Ranch in Mt. Calvary, WI, creating and facilitating programs focused on helping adults reduce their stress and increase their quality of life. Not to mention she is also employed as Preschool Director of Hope Lutheran Church, where she developed a Nature Classroom which is an outdoor education area for ages 3-6. For all these reasons and more, our team at Heaven’s Gait Ranch is better because Beth is part of it.
Beth and her husband Richard, a Member of the Retired Reserve US Army and an OIF II Veteran, were married in 1987, and they have three adult children, one of whom has autism.
Volunteer Coordinator, Equine Manager, Active Member of PATH Intl.
Maggie Robertson grew up in a small town in Ontario, Canada on a Canadian Sport Horse breeding farm. After high school, she attended the University of Guelph for a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, and today, she fondly recalls memories of working with and learning from her grandparents on their family farm. Shortly after immigrating to Wisconsin in November 2017, she began volunteering at Heaven’s Gait Ranch as a side walker and lead walker. She says, “I began volunteering at HGR because I wanted to give back to the community and meet new people.”
By fall of 2018, Maggie officially joined our team as volunteer coordinator & facilities manager.
Aside from working with horses at HGR, Maggie enjoys gardening and canning, working with any animals, and baking. She states, “I am so excited to work with a great group of volunteers and staff, making a difference in the lives of many veterans and individuals with disabilities.”
From Northwest Indiana, Ben was first introduced to horses while attending Boy Scout camp, where he earned his equestrian merit badge. Growing up in rural Indiana, he developed an affinity for the outdoors and activities similar to his work on the ranch. As a proud graduate of Boone Grove High School, Ben chose to serve his country after graduation in 2002. He is a U.S. Army veteran and Noncommissioned Officer who obtained the rank of Staff Sergeant. He served in a variety of capacities, including as an Infantry squad leader. A large portion of his responsibilities were enforcing safety standards, maintaining readiness, and risk management/analysis. Undoubtedly, these skills have influenced his work at the ranch, especially assisting its team to mitigate dangers and prevent emergencies.
Separating from the military in 2009, Ben moved to Boulder, Colorado where he attended college while not only working for a maintenance company but also on a local farm. Returning to the Midwest in 2014, Ben now operates a solutions-based handyman company, assisting people with home maintenance needs, large and small. He strives to bring excellent communication, organization, problem solving, and interpersonal skills to his work in Cedar Grove.
Ben first learned about Heaven’s Gait Ranch through his involvement with the Milwaukee Veteran’s Center, and he began riding through HGR’s Equine Services for Heroes program in November 2018. By January 2020, Ben joined the staff. Looking forward to enhancing the experience of every participant, volunteer, staff member, and donor, he understands firsthand the benefits of one’s quality time at Heaven’s Gait Ranch. He says, “If other riders can feel at home here as I do, I’ll feel like a success.”
Never one to be idle, Ben is also an active member of the Milwaukee veterans community, enjoying time spent with veterans and elders. In January 2018, Ben started taking part in peer counseling at the Healing Warrior Hearts program in Milwaukee. In his leisure time, he enjoys fishing, movies at the Oriental theater near his home on Milwaukee’s Eastside, beachcombing, and visiting small Wisconsin towns. He is also an active member of the Milwaukee Rugby Football Club and serves on their Board of Directors. In 2019 he was named there “Rugger of the year.”
Dr. Peggy A. Houglum
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Peggy A. Houglum graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BS in physical therapy in 1971. She went on to graduate from Indiana State University with a MS specializing in athletic training and adaptive physical education, and she became a certified athletic trainer in 1975. Working as an instructor in ISU’s graduate and undergraduate Athletic Training Programs, Peg also served as the head athletic trainer for women’s sports. In 1978 she moved to Ames, Iowa to serve in a similar position at Iowa State University. She was lured to Los Angeles in 1981 where she worked in sports medicine clinics and hospitals for the next 15 years. After a brief return to the Midwest, Peg decided to leave the Chicago area to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Virginia and in 2001 completed her PhD in Sports Medicine.
Throughout her professional career, Dr. Peg Houglum has worked in a variety of settings including acute and rehabilitation hospitals, sports medicine and orthopedic clinics, as well as industrial settings. She has treated a variety of patients from six to 90 years old. Over the years she has additionally served on several professional committees at the district and national level. Her international service includes volunteering as an AT for USA teams at World University Games in Kobe, Japan, a member of the Olympic Organizing Committee for the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles, and an AT during the Olympics for events such as the Modern Pentathlon, Opening Ceremonies, and at the Polyclinics. Peg has written articles on sports medicine, co-authored an athletic training assessment text, and is sole author of a comprehensive athletic training therapeutic exercise text.
Her professional expertise lies in rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise, a topic for which she has delivered several regional, national and international presentations. She has been recognized for her service to sports medicine with various awards and in 2002 she was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame.
Now Dr. Houglum generously donates her time and talent to Heaven’s Gait Ranch, volunteering to assist our staff during rider registration. By conducting a simple mobility test during a rider’s intake assessment, Dr. Houglum helps our PATH Intl. instructors determine how much assistance a rider might need, given his or her areas of strength. In addition, she offers guidance on appropriate goals and exercises, which makes Heaven’s Gait Ranch grateful of her continued support.
Certified Equine Ttouch Practitioner & Certified Centered Riding Instructor
Lynn Pfundtner was first introduced to horses at the age of three, and since then her love of horses has never faded. Although she usually had a horse in her life, she did not show or compete. She simply loved horses, being with them, grooming, pleasure riding and training. In 1999, the Tellington Equine Awareness Method caught Lynn’s eye and then her heart. Shortly after, Clicker Training and teaching made sense. The methods complement each other by encouraging the horse to learn how to learn.
After organizing several open clinics in Elkhart Lake, WI, Lynn became certified as a Centered Riding Instructor in 2012, taking the required Instructor’s Course with the renowned Susan B. Harris, protégé of the late Sally Swift, creator of Centered Riding. In 2014, Lynn achieved Certification as Equine Ttouch Practitioner. She now implements both Ttouch and clicker training into her methods while training the therapy horses at HGR.
Aside from equine training, Lynn has spent many hours working as a therapeutic riding volunteer. Her jobs have included side walking, leading, and re-training the horses when needed. She has not only helped re-train horses claimed “untrainable” by other professional trainers, but she has also helped riders overcome fear of riding after severe trauma while on horseback. She specializes in helping both horse and rider become confident so that together they can reach goals within a safe learning environment.
Facilities & Grounds
Jeremy Ebert is the proud owner and talented operator of EZ Signs and Lawn Service, LLC. He has been a resident of Sheboygan County nearly all his life. He grew up in Sheboygan Falls and currently lives in Sheboygan with his wife, Rebecca.
Mr. Ebert has been in the landscaping and lawn-care business for the past seven years, starting in the industry with another company. Nevertheless, when the opportunity to establish his own business presented itself, Jeremy knew that was the right move for him. He began with a few customers and since then has earned the trust and business of many others.
Jeremy has been maintaining the grounds at Heaven’s Gait Ranch for several years now and has assisted the owners with a few new landscaping projects this spring. However, all year long, anyone who visits Heaven’s Gait Ranch can recognize that Jeremy is extremely considerate of the facility’s needs, especially as the seasons change. Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, and whether he’s working in the indoor arena, outdoor arena, or out on the trails, Jeremy thoughtfully and proactively ensures our program horses have safe footing and our riders have safe walkways, which is much appreciated by our staff and volunteers alike. Heaven’s Gait Ranch is very fortunate to have Jeremy on their team, as his work enables individuals with special needs and veterans with disabilities to enjoy riding year-round.
As a perfectionist when it comes to the look, health, and maintenance of his customers’ lawns and grounds, Jeremy says, “I know what I want mine to look like, and I work hard to provide that for them too.”
When Jeremy is not on the job, he loves to be on the water fishing.
Matt Jones has been around horses for the last 28 years and got his first job breaking colts at age 22. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Matt moved to Texas as a young man to work with cutting and reining horses. In 1994 he returned to the Midwest and began working for a stock contractor. During this time, he participated in bareback riding and speed racing rodeos, and after four years of rodeoing, he apprenticed with Farrier Red Renchin for the next eight years.
In 2002 Matt started his own farrier and shoeing business and now travels to his clients to serve their hoof care needs. His job ranges from managing the shoeing needs for as many as 30 horses at a show barn in Illinois to trimming one horse’s feet in someone’s back yard in Wisconsin. As a resident of Cedar Grove for the last 15 years, he immediately began taking care of our therapy horses in the summer of 2016 at Heaven’s Gait Ranch, and we’re blessed to have such talent and expertise right in our local area.
Despite the fact farriering is physically demanding – and particularly strenuous for someone who is 6’5” – Matt says the most rewarding part of his job is corrective farriering, alleviating a horse’s pain and improving his or her condition so that the horse is safe, sound, and happy. Because our therapy horses carry riders with a variety of needs, quality hoof care is essential to our programming needs at Heaven’s Gait Ranch.
Matt states, “There’s a saying that’s true: no hoof; no horse. You have to take care of their feet because it all starts on the ground.”
Matt lives in Cedar Grove, WI with his wife, two kids, two dogs, two cats, and four horses.